Heartstopper Season 1 Review – A beautifully written romance

Season 1

Episode Guide

Meet -| Review Score – 4/5
Crush  -| Review Score – 4/5
Kiss  -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Secret -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Friend -| Review Score – 4/5
Girls -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Bully -| Review Score – 4/5
Boyfriend -| Review Score – 4/5


Heartstopper is not like other teen dramas and it’s all the stronger because of it. We’ve seen a whole wealth of titles in recent years come along and throw the same old clichés in. Teen gets drunk; teen slips into a drug addiction; a big love triangle embroils three people who should perhaps just communicate better – the list goes on. Even in Korea, we’re seeing titles like Extracurricular and You Are My Spring move these teen-orientated shows into much darker and more adult territory. In that respect, Heartstopper could not have come along at a better time.

The story here is simple, straightforward and likely to melt the heart of even the most icy of critical watchers. Our setting is an all-boys secondary school in the UK called Truham. Year 10 student Charlie finds himself having a hard time. He’s bullied, he has the usual trials and tribulations with his outcast friends and even engages in a private romance with fellow student Ben.

When Charlie learns Ben has a girlfriend and he’s only been using Charlie, our protagonist finds himself falling for Nick Nelson, the star rugby player.

Despite being “the straightest guy you’ll ever meet”, Charlie and Nick soon strike up a friendship that looks like it could grow to more. Is Nick really gay though? Or are these two destined to become tragic “almost-were” besties? This question encapsulates the whole show and across the 8 episodes – each clocking in at 25 minutes – Heartstopper does a great job balancing its drama and romance with a lovable group of supporting characters.

It would have been very easy just to write in a bunch of stereotypical teens and with the exception of school bully Harry, who doesn’t have much depth at all, everyone else here has a lot going on and that contributes toward Heartstopper’s appeal. You have Charlie’s best friends Tao and Isaac, while there’s also Elle, who’s now moved to an all-girl’s school and whom they meet after-school. Elle also makes some new friends in Darcy and Tara who hold their own secret. (No spoilers here!)

These characters have some great moments together, although if we’re being super nitpicky, it’s perhaps a shame that Isaac is sidelined a bit and doesn’t have much of an arc. The plot also isn’t super complicated or chock full of surprising twists, instead focusing almost exclusively on the main romance. While I personally think it elevates the material, others more critical than myself could point out that this makes for an overly simple story that doesn’t have a lot of depth.

What Heartstopper lacks in deep storytelling, it more than makes up for with its visual flair, including whimsical cartoon animations overlapped in different scenes across the 8 episodes. Whether it be lightning crackles when Charlie and Nick almost hold hands or little love hearts after a flirty bit of dialogue, these moments are great and actually feels quite reminiscent of the artistic direction in Life Is Strange.

Overall though, Heartstopper is a solid and well written romance. It’s a heartwarming journey of acceptance and love, wrapped up in a ball of feel-good warmth and enticing visual flair. This is definitely not one to miss and easily one of the best shows of the year.

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  • Verdict - 8.5/10

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