A heart-stopping summer rom-com for the girls, gays, and theys

Netflix original adaptation of the graphic novel series, “Heartstopper,” is everything fans wanted and more


K. Alvarado

“Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love.”

By Kate Alvarado

Alice Oseman’s graphic novel series “Heartstopper” has had the bookish side of TikTok and YouTube in a frenzy since it was published in the spring of 2019. But even before that, Oseman decided to digitally publish the comics on platforms such as Tumblr, Tapas, and WebToon. Currently, her online fanbase has amassed over 52.1 million views on her content. 

With the amount of love surrounding this story and its characters, Netflix knew they needed to handle this project with care. Luckily, Oseman agreed to jump on board and became an executive producer of the show. Because of this, they were easily able to capture the heart and spirit of the graphic novel. 

The diverse representation and inclusivity that so many readers were drawn to is amazing to see in a live-action film, especially one as wholesome as this adaptation.

“Heartstopper” follows the relationship between two teenage boys, Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson, as their unlikely friendship turns into something more. Charlie, who has just survived a year of severe bullying after being outed in an all-boys school, finds himself consumed in a toxic relationship. That is until he is sat next to Nick Nelson, the popular rugby all-star a year older than him, who has taken him under his wing.

As the two become closer, Nick realizes that his feelings for Charlie are more than just platonic. The depiction of Nick coming to terms with his bisexuality is beautiful, but the way Charlie is supportive of him taking his time before coming out makes it sweeter. 

The show also puts a bigger emphasis on Elle, a transgender girl who was also bullied at Charlie’s school and has recently transferred to a nearby all-girls school. They show her struggle to make friends, acclimate to a new environment, and explore a possible romance. Most importantly, they actually casted a transgender actor to play the role, ensuring the representation is accurate.

While most scenes are taken right from the graphic novels, there are some significant changes any diehard readers would recognize, most of which have to do with characters. For example, an important part of Charlie’s trio, Aled, was replaced with Issac. 

Aled is also the main character of Oseman’s beloved YA novel “Radio Silence,” so it is possible they are saving that character for a separate adaptation instead of having crossover characters. 

Also, Nick’s rugby friends Sai, Omar, and Christian are not directly referenced and instead mostly focus on Harry, the homophobic one of the group. However, they are not necessarily significant characters, so the plot is not affected.

Readers have also noticed an extra character, Imogen, that does not exist in the novels. While her crush on Nick at first seems like a nuisance, her character seems to have much more potential. 

Even so, the impact is the same. Having the representation of healthy LGBTQ relationships is a privilege past generations wish they had. For fans of “Love, Simon” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” this indie-feeling romance is the perfect summer watch.