Skip to content

Heartstopper, based on the graphic novel series of the same name by Alice Oseman, centres on a heartwarming romance between two secondary schoolers, and has been praised for its depiction of young love in the LGBT+ community.

The series begins by introducing us to Charlie (Joe Locke), an openly gay year-10 student attending Truham Grammar School for Boys, as well as his friend group: Tao (William Gao), Isaac (Tobie Donovan) and Elle (Yasmin Finney), who recently transferred to Higgs School for girls. We also meet Nick (Kit Connor), a popular rugby player in the year above who has been seated next to Charlie in form time. They instantly hit it off and we get to see the beginning of a beautiful friendship… or perhaps more?

It’s soon revealed that Charlie has been in an ongoing situationship with Ben, a closeted year 11. However, Charlie realises that Ben actually has a girlfriend and feels uncomfortable with being someone’s secret. A confrontation ensues, but Nick bravely comes to Charlie’s aid, cementing their friendship. In the next few episodes, the friendship between Charlie and Nick begins to blossom outside of school. After playing in the snow and cuddling up to watch movies, we witness Nick’s internal struggle as he considers whether or not to hold Charlie’s hand. 

Back at school, rumours fly about which of the girls Nick might fancy, sending Charlie into a spiral of self-doubt. Elle, who has recently become friends with ‘gal pals’ Tara and Darcy, is tasked with finding out whether Tara is interested in Nick. Tara and Darcy confide in Elle, revealing that they’re actually gay and in a relationship.

Heartstopper then offers us a heart-wrenching yet relatable scene for many – we watch Nick confront his fears around his sexuality, diving into the confusing and sometimes terrifying experience of ‘Am I Gay?’ quizzes and articles, claiming to document the queer experience.

School bully Harry’s birthday blowout marks a turning point for Charlie and Nick. We witness Tara and Darcy go public with their relationship, kissing in a joyous scene illuminated by rainbow lights. What follows is a sweet yet intimate scene between Nick and Charlie. Away from the peering eyes of their classmates, the two boys exchange a much-anticipated kiss. However they are quickly interrupted by Nick’s ‘friends’, causing Nick to flee. 

The next morning, he turns up on Charlie’s doorstep, soaked with rain, apologising for running away the night before. He admits to having a “proper full-on gay crisis.” They decide to keep their newfound relationship a secret until Nick is ready, and the two boys share a second kiss in a beautiful moment of passion.

In a relatable moment, Nick watches Pirates of the Caribbean, and realises that he is attracted to both Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. Though he is now wrestling with a new term – bisexual – this seems to mark a new-found confidence in Nick, as he opens up more about his relationship status with Tara and Darcy, who are dealing with homophobia after coming out. We also see Nick punch Harry in the face, in response to his continued homophobic behaviour towards Charlie.

Meanwhile, Charlie deals with the apparent loss of his friend Tao, after a milkshake date turned sour and Tao realised he was the last to know about Charlie and Nick’s relationship. Angry at being excluded from the news, Tao picks a fight with his bully Harry.

The school Sports Day marks the reconciliation of Tao and Charlie and a new start for Charlie and Nick. We are treated to a heartwarming scene where Nick comes out to his mum as bisexual and she accepts him without question. The series ends tenderly, with a trip to the beach and an uplifting scene where two boys officially become boyfriends. 

Heartstopper is a much more lighthearted and uplifting watch than we, the LGBT+ community, are used to seeing on screen. Though the first series didn’t shy away from the homophobia and stereotypes that still exist in schools, it still managed to tell a warm and heartfelt coming-of-age story. 

The wait for the second series of Heartstopper will be over this year, and fans are hoping that it will be just as impactful as the first. The first series closely followed the plot of Alice Oseman’s first three graphic novels, so it looks as though the second series will treat us to a school trip to Paris detailed in volume four. 

What will a public relationship look like for Charlie and Nick? Will Elle and Tao’s obvious feelings for each other culminate in a relationship? And how much screen time will Nellie the dog get? Hopefully, a lot.

Zilla is an ambassador for Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity. If you’re LGBT+, age 18-25 and living in the UK, you can volunteer for the Ambassador Programme here.