‘Heartstopper’ gives Netflix audiences hope for more queer content

Love is love is love, and you will LOVE ‘Heartstopper’

Image by: Amna Rafiq
Nick and Charlie bring to life the most pure form of love.

With an abundance of heteronormative romance movies and shows dominating Netflix, Heartstopper’s queer focus is a breath of fresh air.

Based off Alice Oseman’s graphic novels of the same name, Heartstopper follows the life of Charlie, an openly gay boy in high school. Early into the show, Charlie falls for Nick, an apparently straight boy in the year above him. As Charlie and Nick become close, Nick begins to struggle with his own identity as he questions his sexuality.

This first reason to adore this show is its sense of innocence and ignition of hope in young viewers’ hearts—and those of older viewers like myself. 

From adorably animated doodles floating around the screen during intimate moments to stolen glances and overthought text messages, Heartstopper gives the audience love at its most innocent between two young boys struggling to accept themselves. 

Charlie and Nick share small moments on screen that indicate their affection while they try to understand it themselves—the small “hi,” followed by a flush of red on their faces, tells more than the grand monologued “I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU” moment in nearly every popular straight movie.

These small yet affectionate moments are so important to younger viewers who may still be trying to understand their identity.

 In one episode, Nick googles, “am I gay.” For many people, the Internet may be the first place to try to understand who they are, and that’s okay.

While shows like Sex Education also provide education on queer relationships, they are far too progressive and sexually graphic for younger viewers.

Heartstopper is a great reminder for younger queer viewers that their feelings are normal. Its strict focus on the emotional bonds built between Charlie and Nick—the most important, yet least physically intimate, aspect of relationships, is incredibly important for young viewers to see.

This is not only a much stronger message for younger viewers—that relationships aren’t strictly physical—but it eases younger viewers’ possible fears about starting queer relationships. Nick and Charlie act as the perfect template for what love should be for younger audiences, something few other shows provide.

Another one of Heartstopper’s admirable aspects is its active work in breaking stigmas in Hollywood.  

 In many popular romance shows and movies depicting heterosexual relationships, producers attempt to ‘get with the times’ by adding a funny queer side character to compliment the straight lead. Heartstopper breaks this norm by giving viewers a show with multiple queer leads.

As our two leads navigate the stigmas around queer relationships, Nick and Charlie show viewers that their love is just as normal as a boy and a girl’s love.

Unfortunately, Heartstopper’s popularity and normalization of queer love is a rarity. Hollywood has largely failed the queer community in delivering relatable and inclusive media on large streaming platforms. Popularity still lies with heteronormative shows with straight leads, rather than LGBTQ+ media. 

We need more stories about queer youth. We need more shows like this that give hope to viewers and present self-questioning as completely normal.


love, Netflix, Queer, Relationships, shows

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