Netflix’s Heartstopper is a wholesome, uplifting series based on the comic books by English author Alice Oseman. Oseman is also the writer behind YA novels Solitaire, Loveless, Radio Silence, and I Was Born for This. Heartstopper‘s main characters find their origins in Solitaire, and the TV adaptation expands on the story even more. Nick (Kit Connor) and Charlie (Joe Locke) are students at Truham Grammar School for Boys who meet when they’re put in the same form class. Openly gay Charlie is shy and anxious, while Nick is a popular rugby player whose friends are always trying to set him up with a girl.
When Charlie gushes about Nick to his friends, he insists that Nick isn’t like the other rugby players; he’s nice. Nevertheless, Charlie’s skeptical best friend Tao (William Gao) is unhappy when Charlie joins the rugby team and befriends Nick. Even though it strains Nick and Charlie’s relationship, Tao stands up to the bullies, while Charlie prefers to avoid aggravating people. Meanwhile, Tao and Charlie’s friend Elle (Yasmin Finney) is settling in at Higgs, the girls’ school across the road. After struggling to put herself out there, she eventually befriends Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell), who have just come out as a couple. Tara has been finding the new attention difficult to deal with, especially when her peers are expecting her to get together with Nick, who she once kissed at a party.
Despite dealing with some dark character traumas and insecurities, Heartstopper is a joyful and optimistic celebration of queer youth. The characters’ chemistry is palpable and infectious thanks to their teasing rapport, as evident in these great quotes from season 1.
- Charlie: How do I stop liking someone? Specifically a straight guy.
Mr Ajayi: Ah, a question for the ages. I thought you had a boyfriend.
Charlie: No. No, he was horrible; this is someone else.
Mr Ajayi: Wow. Being a teenager is terrible.
- Tao: As your token straight friend, it’s my duty to remind you that sometimes people are straight. It’s an unfortunate fact of life.
Isaac: But we don’t know if [Tara] actually likes Nick back.
Tao: Isaac! I’ve already warned you about encouraging Charlie’s crushes on straight boys.
Isaac: But I want to believe in romance!
- Tao: Can we promise that, like … no matter what changes, we always, always put our friendship first? We’ll still go bowling and watch creepy documentaries and we’ll always stay up to watch the Oscars, and we’ll always be able to talk about deep stuff, like this.
Charlie: So you don’t have a crush on anyone at the moment?
Nick: Well, I didn’t say that.
Charlie: What’s she like, then?
Nick: You’re just gonna assume they’re a she?
Charlie: Are they not a girl … Would you kiss someone who wasn’t a girl?
Nick: I don’t know.
Charlie: Would you kiss me?
- Darcy: Tara literally kisses her girlfriend at a crowded party and people are still asking her if she’s dating a guy she kissed once when she was thirteen?
Imogen: So that girl is her girlfriend?
Darcy: ‘That girl’? I’m right here!
- Imogen: I’m not, like, homophobic. I’m an ally.
Darcy: We thank you for your service.
- Tao: Is Harry Greene picking on Charlie?
Elle: Maybe they’re friends.
Tao: That’s even worse. Next thing you know, Charlie will be bringing the whole rugby team to our film night and making us watch—Avengers or something.
Elle: Is that your nightmare scenario? Watching a movie you hate with people you don’t like very much?
- Nick: I said I’d go on a date with this girl…
Sarah Nelson: Oh, do you like this girl?
Nick: Well, uh, her dog died.
Sarah: Ah, not following.
- Tao: But if [Nick] is even slightly mean to you—
Charlie: Yeah, you’ll murder him, I know.
Tao: I was gonna say I’d send him a strongly-worded DM, but murder’s fine, too.
- Nick: Do you ever feel like you’re only doing things because everyone else is? And you’re scared to change or do something that might confuse or surprise people? Your real personality has been buried inside you for a really long time. I guess that’s how I’ve been feeling recently.
- Tara: Everything’s changed.
Darcy: Since we came out?
Tara: Yeah…I just wasn’t prepared for things to change. I didn’t think so many people would suddenly think I’m a completely different person … I’m not loud and confident about being a lesbian. I could barely say the word ‘lesbian’ when we started going out … You’re so confident about your sexuality and I still feel like I know nothing.
Darcy: I don’t know anything, either. I don’t know anything about anything.
Tara: I just want to live my life.
Darcy: We can do that.
- Mr Ajayi: Don’t let anyone make you disappear, Charlie.
Charlie: You don’t get to have an opinion about anything I do.
Ben: Do you want me to go around telling people about you and Nick?
Charlie: Do you want me to go around telling people about me and you? That’s what I thought. Except, I wouldn’t do that, because I’m a decent person. I understand that you’re figuring out your sexuality, but you don’t get to make me feel like crap anymore just because you hate yourself. So leave me alone. Just leave me alone.
- Nick: You’re my boyfriend! I’m your boyfriend! We’re boyfriends!
- Nick: He’s my boyfriend. Charlie’s my boyfriend. I still like girls, but I like boys, too. And me and Charlie—we’re going out. And I just wanted you to know.