“Heartstopper” review: is it good representation?

For one of the first times in mainstream television history, the new show “Heartstopper” features queer love along with many other diverse relationships.


Photo courtesy of Netflix

“Heartstopper” has become one of the most popular shows on Netflix

Alice Oseman started writing and illustrating the webcomic “Heartstopper” in 2016 and uploading chapters onto a site “WebToons.” It quickly gained traction, and in 2018, the first volume was published as a graphic novel. Oseman continued to write, and three more volumes were published: the second in 2019, the third in 2020 and fourth in 2021. She continues to write and uploads a new chapter the first, 11th and 21st of each month. The fifth volume is expected to be released in graphic novel form in February of 2023.

In 2021, it was announced that the widely read webcomic would be turned into a TV-show, which fans have been highly anticipating all the way until the release April 22.

The graphic novels and TV-show very similarly follow the same plot. Teenager Charlie Spring, who is openly gay, finds himself having a crush on the star rugby player of the school, Nick Nelson, who everyone assumes is straight, so he thinks he doesn’t have a chance. Charlie joins the rugby team, and Nick and Charlie start to become very close “friends,” and through following the show and the graphic novels, we get to see them turn into more.

The show has quickly become a fan favorite, accumulating a 100% “Tomatometer” score and a 98% audience score from “Rotten Tomatoes.” People have claimed to have loved both the representation and the way the show stayed relatively accurate to the graphic novels. 

“Heartstopper” manages to include all different kinds of characters allowing for a large amount of representation. It features Black, Asian, gay, queer, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and various different body types in the main cast. Not to mention, most of the characters have their own developed storyline rather than just the main characters being the stars of the show. 

“‘Heartstopper’ is my favorite show at the moment,” said Sophomore Emersynn Fair. “Not only does it have a great storyline but the amount of representation and diversity was amazing. It also touches on so many important topics such as mental health, homophobia, bullying, coming out etc. Overall it was just a great and comforting show, and I would definitely watch it again and recommend it to my friends.”

Junior Stephanie Kraska agrees.

“I absolutely loved ‘Heartstopper.’ By far my favorite LGBTQ+ content,” she said. “The representation was phenomenal. They hit everything you could ever ask for. Most LGBTQ+ shows, movies or even books don’t put very much emphasis on homophobia or even the fear of coming out but they did just that. I would recommend to everyone, not just members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

This show is one of the first of its kind to enter into the mainstream of any streaming service. Because of this, it has received a fair amount of criticism from people across the world who believe that the LGBTQ+ community should not be featured on television for millions to see. However, the supporters of the show hope that Netflix will combat these criticisms by renewing the show for a season two. 

One of the special things about the show is that it doesn’t exploit the downsides to being queer. Like many other television shows that feature a sappy love story between a straight couple, “Heartstopper” simply is about the love story between two queer characters. It manages to display the hardships that come with being queer without making them the whole premise of the show. Being able to juggle the beauty of queer relationships and the hardships that come along with being in the community is a difficult thing to do especially when the goal of creating a show like this is to please the queer audience. For once, the show offers a glance into a simple queer relationship similar to many straight relationships in mainstream television.