Heartstopper (TV series)

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Heartstopper
A pink hand-written text reading the series' title
Genre
Based onHeartstopper
by Alice Oseman
Written byAlice Oseman
Directed byEuros Lyn
Starring
ComposerAdiescar Chase
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Production
Executive producers
ProducerZorana Piggott
CinematographyDiana Olifirova
EditorSofie Alonzi
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time26–33 minutes
Production companySee-Saw Films
Release
Original networkNetflix
Picture format4K UHDTV
Audio formatSurround
Original release22 April 2022 (2022-04-22) –
present (present)

Heartstopper is a British coming-of-age romantic comedy streaming television series on Netflix, adapted from the webcomic and graphic novel of the same name by Alice Oseman. Written by Oseman herself, the series primarily tells the story of Charlie Spring (Joe Locke), a gay schoolboy who falls in love with classmate Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), whom he sits next to in his new form. It also explores the lives of Tao (William Gao), Elle (Yasmin Finney), Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell).

The television rights for the series were purchased by See-Saw Films in 2019, and Netflix acquired distribution rights in 2021. Euros Lyn was enlisted as the director. Filming took place from April to June that year, with teasers released throughout the timeframe. Various pre-existing songs were used as the series' soundtrack, in addition to an original score by Adiescar Chase. The cinematographic styles and colour grading were planned ahead to give the series atmospheric elegance, amplified by the use of traditional animation adapted from the source material.

Heartstopper was released on 22 April 2022. It received critical acclaim, particularly for its tone and pacing, as well as its representation of the LGBT community. It gained instant popularity, being among the top 10 English series on Netflix in just two days. It also increased the popularity of the graphic novels as well as the series' songs. On 20 May 2022, it was announced that Heartstopper was renewed for a second and third season.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Kit Connor as Nick Nelson, a popular year 11 rugby player at Truham Grammar School seated next to Charlie in form class
  • Joe Locke as Charlie Spring, a year 10 student at Truham Grammar School who was recently outed
  • William Gao as Tao Xu, Charlie's protective best friend
  • Yasmin Finney as Elle Argent, Charlie, Tao and Isaac's friend who transferred to Higgs Girls School after coming out as transgender
  • Corinna Brown as Tara Jones, a Higgs student who befriends Elle
  • Kizzy Edgell as Darcy Olsson, Tara's girlfriend and a friend of Elle's
  • Tobie Donovan as Isaac Henderson, a quiet member of Charlie, Tao, and Elle's friend group
  • Jenny Walser as Tori Spring, Charlie's older sister
  • Sebastian Croft as Benjamin "Ben" Hope, Charlie's first, clandestine relationship
  • Cormac Hyde-Corrin as Harry Greene, a boy on the rugby team who is a homophobic bully
  • Rhea Norwood as Imogen Heaney, one of Nick's friends who has a crush on him
  • Fisayo Akinade as Mr Ajayi, an art teacher who looks out for Charlie
  • Chetna Pandya as Coach Singh, the rugby coach who looks out for Charlie
  • Stephen Fry as the voice of Headmaster Barnes, the head teacher of Truham Grammar School
  • Olivia Colman as Sarah Nelson, Nick's mother

Recurring[edit]

  • Araloyin Oshunremi as Otis Smith
  • Evan Ovenell as Christian McBride
  • Ashwin Viswanath as Sai Verma
  • Georgina Rich as Jane Spring, Charlie and Tori's mother
  • Joseph Balderrama as Julio Spring, Charlie and Tori's father
  • Momo Yeung as Yan Xu, Tao's mother
  • Alan Turkington as Mr Lange

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"Meet"Euros LynAlice Oseman22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Truham Grammar High School student Charlie Spring is in a secret relationship with Ben Hope. In his new form, Charlie is assigned to sit next to Nick Nelson, a rugby player for whom he develops feelings. They become friends, though Charlie is unsure of Nick's sexuality. Nick invites him to join the rugby team, and he accepts. After seeing Ben kissing a girl and realising his own unhappiness in the relationship, Charlie tells Ben he does not want to meet up anymore. Later, Charlie reluctantly meets with Ben again, who forcibly kisses him but is fended off by Nick. Meanwhile, one of Charlie's friends, Elle Argent, moves to Higgs Girls School after coming out as a transgender girl.
2"Crush"Euros LynAlice Oseman22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Charlie vents to Nick about his relationship with Ben, whom Nick condemns. Charlie's friend Tao Xu assumes that Nick is heterosexual and tells Charlie to abandon his feelings, but he refuses. Tao tells him that Nick has a crush on a girl named Tara Jones, whom Elle soon learns is in a same-sex relationship with Darcy Olsson. While hanging out at Charlie's house, Nick tries to hold Charlie's hand while he is sleeping and begins to question his sexuality.
3"Kiss"Euros LynAlice Oseman22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Nick is invited to his friend Harry Greene's 16th birthday party. He invites Charlie, who accepts. Tao is unhappy that Nick has been causing his and Charlie's friendship to become more distant. At the party, Harry and his group try to set Nick up with Tara. Tara comes out to Nick, who tells off Harry after he makes fun of Charlie. Imogen Heany, one of Nick's friends, tells Nick she likes him. Charlie tells Ben to leave him alone. Nick and Charlie go to a secluded room, where they kiss; Nick is dumbfounded and leaves after he hears Harry looking for him. Though heartbroken, Charlie is surprised to see Nick at his doorstep the next day in the pouring rain.
4"Secret"Euros LynAlice Oseman22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Charlie apologises to Nick for what happened the previous day. Nick kisses him, explaining that he is still closeted and confused; Charlie says he does not need to publicly declare anything. At school, they spend more time together while eating lunch. After a rugby game, Nick visits Charlie in the sick bay and is briefly interrupted by Isaac. Tao and Elle overhear Nick reluctantly agreeing to a peer-pressured date with Imogen.
5"Friend"Euros LynAlice Oseman22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Nick is about to cancel the date with Imogen when she reveals that her dog died, and Nick reverts his plan because he feels sorry for her. Charlie invites Nick to his 15th birthday celebration, which happens to be on the same day as Nick's date, but he decides to be with Charlie. Tao tells Charlie about Nick and Imogen. Nick overhears the two of them, later clarifying to Charlie before explicitly admitting his feelings for him, which Charlie reciprocates. The next day, Nick explains to Imogen that he does not like her romantically. Imogen thanks him for his honesty.
6"Girls"Euros LynAlice Oseman22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Nick thinks he might be bisexual; Charlie tells him to take his time. Nick comes out to Tara and Darcy, who suggest a double date. After Elle reveals she has feelings for Tao, the group then secretly make it a triple date, hoping to set the two up. On the date, Elle notices their intentions and confronts them, saying she does not want any more change in her life and wants to protect her friendship with Tao, though she is happy for Nick and Charlie. That day, there is an orchestral concert with Truham and Higgs. Tara angrily leaves after hearing homophobic comments; Darcy calms her down and they go back to perform.
7"Bully"Euros LynAlice Oseman22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Nick invites Charlie to the cinema with his friends, reassuring him that Harry and Ben are not coming. However, they both turned out to be there, and Harry bullies Charlie about his sexuality. After Charlie leaves, Nick tells Harry to stop the bullying. Harry calls Charlie a fag, and a fight ensues. At the car park, Ben tells Charlie that Nick does not care for him and that no one could. Tao feels guilty for unintentionally worsening Charlie's situation by verbally attacking Harry, but as Charlie continues to ignore him, he gets into a fight with Harry and confronts Charlie for not telling him about his relationship with Nick.
8"Boyfriend"Euros LynAlice Oseman22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Harry is suspended for the fight and Charlie's friendship with Tao is still strained. Depressed, Charlie quits rugby and ignores Nick. Tao and Nick bond and find common ground on wanting Charlie to be happy. Tao reconciles with Charlie, who also confronts Ben for being abusive. Nick tells Charlie that he does not want to break up and they kiss. On a date at the seaside, Nick reveals his plan to come out and to tell their friends, which makes Charlie happy. Later that day, he comes out to his mother, who accepts him.

Production[edit]

Writing and pre-production[edit]

Alice Oseman (pictured 2022) wrote the screenplay based on her webcomic and graphic novel of the same name.

In 2016, Alice Oseman started a webcomic titled Heartstopper which later expanded to a graphic novel after gaining a cult following.[1] Sometime in 2019, See-Saw Films asked Oseman if she could try writing a screenplay.[2] The production firm had been suggested[3] by See-Saw executive producer Patrick Walters,[4] who helped with Oseman's Kickstarter campaign in 2018.[3] She expressed interest in doing it, noting the lack of wholesome, teenage LGBT representation in television, hoping that this could potentially assure LGBT youth "that they can find happiness and find romance and find friendship". She wrote a screenplay based on the first two volumes of the graphic novel. See-Saw Films liked it[2] and optioned the television rights later that July.[5]

On 20 January 2021, it was revealed that Netflix had ordered Heartstopper as an eight-episode half-hour series.[5] It was deemed the best platform by Oseman and Walters due to its global availability.[3] Euros Lyn was enlisted as director and executive producer. He had not read the original source material and called the screenplay riveting.[6] Netflix "Kids & Family content" director Patrick Wheeleer said that the story "deserves to be told" due to its relatability among the young demographic.[1] Also serving as executive producers for the series were Patrick Walters, Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Iain Canning, and Emile Sherman, with Zorana Piggott as producer. Production design was done by Tim Dickel, series set decoration by Maxwell Fine and props by Zoe Seiffert.[7] During production, the programme had a working title of Evergreen.[8]

Casting[edit]

To provide an authentic depiction, Oseman wanted actual young people to portray the characters.[2] Daniel Edwards-Guy served as casting director. An open casting call went out in January and February 2021 for five of the main characters as well as three of the recurring cast.[9] Oseman explained that the character Aled would not appear in the adaptation to respect his story in another novel within the Heartstopper universe, Radio Silence. After over 10,000 people auditioned via Zoom, she announced the first round of casting decisions in April 2021, with Kit Connor and Joe Locke starring as Nick and Charlie respectively.[2][10] Heartstopper marked Locke's acting debut. Connor initially auditioned as Charlie, and the producers immediately changed his role to Nick.[11] After agreeing that Locke suited Charlie's role, Connor was auditioned and the production team found a chemistry between the two;[12] the actors themselves recalled only taking a few hours to bond.[11]

The rest of the cast were announced days later and included Yasmin Finney, Sebastian Croft, William Gao, Corinna Brown, Kizzy Edgell, Cormac Hyde-Corrin, Rhea Norwood, and Tobie Donovan.[13] Jenny Walser joined in the cast in May 2021.[14] The final audition was conducted face-to-face.[2] Having worked with her previously, Lyn reached out to Olivia Colman after Oseman expressed an interest in a notable actress to portray Sarah; Colman accepted the offer. It was also noted that fans of the webcomic and graphic novel agreed that Colman was suited for the series.[15] Lyn said that Colman's "instinctive" and "warm" character fit Sarah as Nick's mother.[6]

Filming[edit]

This scene in "Meet" where Ben forcibly kisses Charlie utilises hand-held cinematography to evoke the documentary genre. The blue-yellow colour palette was chosen to give the series a lighthearted atmosphere, but the school interior's colours were controlled not to be overdone.

Filming began on location throughout the United Kingdom in April 2021 and finished that June.[16] It mostly took place in Burnham, Buckinghamshire. The now-derelict E-Act Burnham Park Academy was used for the interiors and exteriors of the Truham Grammar School.[17] Harry's party was filmed at the Hampton Court House in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.[18] A Hollywood Bowl bowling alley in High Wycombe was used for filming. The rugby match shown in the episode "Secret" was filmed at the Thames Valley Athletics Centre. The railway station from where Nick and Charlie depart to the seaside is North Weald railway station in Essex, but the scene on the seaside was filmed in Herne Bay, Kent. After milkshakes, Charlie and his friends are seen walking along the River Thames in Windsor, Berkshire, before their concert.[19] Colman filmed all her scenes in two days.[20] In the episode "Boyfriend", during a scene where Nick and Charlie take a train, Oseman decided to give herself a cameo as a passenger; she is drawing the couple offscreen.[21] The scene near the end of the episode featuring a merry-go-round was filled with crew members.[22]

Diana Olifirova was enlisted as cinematographer. She was immediately presented with challenges in visually depicting "love and emotion and tenderness". Using an Arri Alexa Mini LF with Canon K35 spherical lenses, she used hand-held cinematography to give the cast space and to achieve an effect that resembled the documentary genre. With production designer Tim Dickel, they conceived a lighthearted colour palette of orange, yellow, turquoise, as well as a mix of pink and blue. Olifrova employed colour gel for the lighting, which she had previously done for We Are Lady Parts. The colours of the school building was controlled to not be overdone but at the same time to be vivid. The scenes during Harry's birthday party were filmed in daytime, and thus the production team had to shut the windows and use artificial lighting to resemble outdoor lights. Transitions between seasons were achieved through lens flares.[18] The opening scene was achieved in two takes; in the first, the depth of field for Nick achieved through the Contrazoom was deemed overdone; they later managed to reshoot the scene to make it more minimalistic.[6] As Tara and Darcy kiss in "Kiss", Nick is bathed in bisexual lighting (pinks, purples, and blues) symbolising him realising his sexuality; this was suggested to Olifirova by the series' creative team.[23]

As production designer, Dickel worked with set decorator Maxwell Fine, who used his experience in past art lessons to create a realistic representation of British classrooms.[22] Dickel, meanwhile, asked his friends to photograph their kids' rooms, creating a mood board which was reviewed by the cast.[24] Some of the set objects also changed as the characters progressed and grew. At the geography classroom, Nick's seat was located to have him in front of images of rocks; Fine correlated this with metamorphic rocks forming under pressure, symbolising Nick and Charlie's romantic development. Nick has his room littered with items representing his complicated life. Elle's room is "more refined" and artistic, Tao's room was designed to reflect his cinephilia, and Tara's is awash with teddy bears per the screenplay. With respect to the source material, several set objects were given a hand-drawn style. Reflective of the characters, Charlie's room is wide and chaotic, while Nick's is tidier. Oseman drew murals to be depicted in the series; they were inspired by the works of Hokusai and Julian Opie.[22]

Post-production[edit]

In the series, traditionally animated leaves float around during moments of love, a direct copy of the visual motifs in the webcomic. In Nick and Charlie's first kissing scene, sparks of electricity come out as Charlie tries touching Nick's hand. Animated seagulls and lovebirds are also seen. Oseman said that the animations represent a "feeling of magic" they intended to evoke. She had already thought of using such effects while writing the screenplay, conceiving that they would appear primarily during the intimate scenes between Nick and Charlie, which she dubbed "Heartstopper moments". Eventually, Anna Peronetto was chosen to create the animations, using a storyboard by Oseman. Peronetto had been a fan of the original source material and was chosen when Oseman made an Instagram post looking for traditional animators. She discussed with Lyn and editor Sofie Alonzi to see what kinds of animations fit in a certain scene. For the lovebirds, she analyzed London feral parakeets.[18][25][26]

Using DaVinci Resolve, Olifirova worked remotely with colourist Toby Tomkins, working for the company Cheat, to create a 3D lookup table (LUT) that resembled the shots' colour palette, as well as "add[ing] a hint of turquoise in the shadows and warmth to skin tones". Lyn had told them he wanted the colour intensity to increase as the story progressed and as seasons changed. They talked about how to create a proper Dolby Vision high dynamic range for the series, establishing colour and tonal limits. Then, the LUT's brightness was stopped down by one so that Olifirova could create additional light in the shadows and experiment with the colour grading. Tomkins worked on the first two episodes for two days before working on individual remaining episodes for a day-and-a-half.[18][27]

Adiescar Chase composed the score and employed electronic riffs to give it a contemporary feel.[28] Heartstopper marks her first project after graduating from the National Film and Television School. She read the webcomic prior to composing and was given direction to have her music complement the pre-existing songs used. Some of the tracks, including "Heartstopper", aided the "Heartstopper moments" by further emphasizing the feeling of electricity and excitement.[29]

Release[edit]

The series's episode titles were released on 19 April.[30] The series was released on 22 April 2022.[31]

When asked whether there would be a second season, Walters said that they were looking forward to it, seeing that the executives of Netflix seemed to "understand" the series.[21] Locke and Connor had also expressed anticipation for a renewal, noting the narrative progression in the series' source material.[11] On 20 May 2022, following Netflix's review of the 28-day viewing figures, it was announced that the series had been renewed for two more seasons.[32]

Soundtrack[edit]

A selection of songs used in the soundtrack for the series were released digitally on Spotify under the title Heartstopper: Official Mixtape to coincide with the series' release on 22 April 2022.[33] Chase's score was also released on the same day.[34] A single by British artist Baby Queen, "Colours of You", was released by Polydor Records in conjunction with the launch.[35] Other popular songs featured in the series include "Girls" by Girl in Red and "Tired" by Beabadoobee.[36]

Heartstopper (Soundtrack from the Netflix Series)
Soundtrack album by
Adiescar Chase
Released22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Length32:59
LabelMaisie
ProducerAdiescar Chase
Heartstopper (Soundtrack from the Netflix Series) track listing
No.TitleLength
1."First Sight"1:09
2."Déjà Vu"0:57
3."X"0:44
4."Head in the Clouds"1:00
5."On the Move"1:02
6."Angst"1:25
7."Off to Nick's"0:41
8."Just Friends"1:26
9."Milkshakes"1:24
10."Falling Leaves"1:03
11."Electricity"1:03
12."The Lads"1:10
13."Misconceptions"1:11
14."Kisses"2:05
15."Possibilities"2:04
16."Clash"1:07
17."Rugby Match"3:24
18."Wanna Go out Sometime"0:55
19."Happy Complications"0:50
20."New Best Friend"0:44
21."Embrace"1:02
22."Exploration"1:56
23."Sports Day"0:48
24."Heartstopper"2:32
25."Encore"0:57
Total length:32:59
Heartstopper: Official Mixtape
Soundtrack album / Mixtape by
various artists
Released22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)
Length2:05:00
Singles from Heartstopper: Official Mixtape
  1. "Colours of You"
    Released: 22 April 2022
Heartstopper: Official Mixtape track listing
No.TitleArtist(s)Length
1."Colours of You"Baby Queen4:15
2."Want Me"Baby Queen4:18
3."Lovesick"Peace2:13
4."Dover Beach"Baby Queen3:38
5."Don't Delete the Kisses"Wolf Alice4:35
6."Sappho"Frankie Cosmos1:52
7."Girls"Girl in Red3:18
8."Dance with Me"Beabadoobee3:54
9."Angel"
  • Lava La Rue
  • Deb Never
3:56
10."Why Am I Like This?"Orla Gartland3:32
11."My Own Person"Smoothboi Ezra4:42
12."Telephone"Waterparks2:33
13."Lucid"Rina Sawayama3:38
14."Don't Leave Me (Chapter 1: Despair)"HMLTD3:32
15."Clearest Blue"Chvrches3:53
16."Alaska" (Toby Green remix)
3:05
17."What's It Gonna Be?"Shura3:34
18."Heart"Flor3:42
19."Nothing Else I Could Do"Ella Jane2:50
20."UrbanAngel1999"Thomas Headon3:12
21."If You Want To"Beabadoobee3:43
22."Buzzkill"Baby Queen3:24
23."Fever Dream"Mxmtoon3:16
24."Paper Mache World"Matilda Mann2:59
25."I Want to Be with You"Chloe Moriondo2:59
26."Knock Me off My Feet"SOAK3:08
27."Flirting with Her"Sir Babygirl3:50
28."Bang Bang Bang"Lauran Hibberd2:22
29."Tired"Beabadoobee3:19
30."Any Other Way"Tomberlin3:22
31."Smokey Eyes"Lincoln3:15
32."Our Window"Noah and the Whale5:48
33."Because I Love You"Montaigne3:37
34."Close to You"Dayglow3:14
35."Moment in the Sun"Sunflower Bean3:09
36."I Belong in Your Arms"Chairlift3:27
Total length:2:05:00

Reception[edit]

Audience viewership[edit]

During its debut week, Heartstopper ranked at number seven on Netflix's Top 10 TV English titles just two days after its release. Based on Netflix's methodology of measuring a programme by the number of hours, the series generated 14.55 million hours viewed.[37] The following week, the show climbed to number 5 with 23.94 million hours viewed.[38] In its third week, the show dropped to sixth position with new viewership numbers of 14.97 million viewing hours.[39][40] Variety reported the series had reached Netflix's Top Ten list in 54 countries as of 20 May 2022. The series also topped the publication's Trending TV chart for over five weeks, judging by the 1.3 million Twitter engagements.[41]

Critical response[edit]

The series received critical acclaim. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a "Certified Fresh" 100% approval rating with an average rating of 8.6/10, based on 49 critic reviews. According to the website, critics agreed that the season is "An inclusive romance told with striking sensitivity, [...] so effortlessly charming that viewers won't dare skip a beat."[42] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 85 out of 100 based on nine critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[43]

Reviewing the series for The Guardian, Rebecca Nicholson gave a rating of 4/5 and said, "Heartstopper may not quite live up to the dramatic promise of its title, but this adorable teen romance is a heartwarmer, at the very least."[44] Saloni Gajjar of The A.V. Club gave the series an A− and said "Thankfully, Heartstopper subverts notions by keeping its protagonist proudly gay: It's the love interest who has to sort through his unexpected feelings, not the other way around. Nick's attraction to Charlie catches him by surprise (but not disdain)."[45] Digital Spy's David Opie gave a rating of 5/5 and said, "Heartstopper centres queer love, affirming the feelings of young people watching who might be unsure or afraid to speak their truth."[46] Jonathan Wilson of Ready Steady Cut gave a rating of 4/5 and stated, "Heartstopper might lack some edge and feel as if it's speaking to a younger demographic than the usual teen drama, but its deeply uplifting portrait of young love is very difficult not to get swept up in."[47] For Paste Magazine, Emily Maskell gave a rating of 8.8/10 and said, "An open-armed embrace for queer youth, Heartstopper lays the strong foundations of what you can only hope will be the uplifting and inclusive depictions of queer characters for the next generation of viewers."[48] Ezelle Alblas for The Upcoming gave a 5/5 rating and said, "Heartstopper feels like a show everyone needs to see. It's sweet without the cheese and quietly radical without the shock factor of shows like Sex Education, Euphoria or It's a Sin."[49]

Impact[edit]

Following the release of the series, the first volume of Oseman's Heartstopper graphic novel became the top-selling children's bestseller in the UK.[50] Songs featured in the series received large increases in chart sales and streams. Songs on the soundtrack that received a surge in chart sales when compared to the previous week included "Want Me" and "Dover Beach" by Baby Queen, "Why Am I Like This" by Orla Gartland, and "I Belong In Your Arms" by Chairlift.[51]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Results Ref.
2022 National Television Awards New Drama Heartstopper Longlisted [52]
Rising Star Kit Connor Longlisted
Joe Locke Longlisted
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Musical Moment "Dance with Me" Won [53]
Dorian Awards Best TV Drama Heartstopper Pending [54]
Best LGBTQ Show Pending
Best TV Performance Kit Connor Pending

References[edit]

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