Spoilers for Heartstopper, including the last episode
I just finished watching Heartstopper! People had said it was delightful and adorable, and that's true, it made me grin and clap happily a bunch of times. But it was also really stressful! There's bullying, stress about being outed, and there's a scene in episode 8 that made me cry (where Charlie is saying he thinks he just makes everyone's life worse and they're better off without him - ouch my heart).
But I'm glad I watched it. I love how intense all the romantic emotions are, and how viscerally it depicts the tension before and during a touch of the hand or a first kiss. I love the animated electricity when their hands touch! I love that the show uses the word bisexual, I feel like that's still weirdly rare on tv.
One weird thing is that my wife missed the one line that indicates that Elle is trans, and so had no idea for the rest of the show. Like, she was super confused - why did Elle used to go to an all boys school? Or is it a mixed school? It seems like there's no girls there?? - Basically I liked that the show didn't make a big deal about Elle being trans, but maybe it was TOO subtle. (Side note, my wife is trans, so it wasn't obliviousness on her part lol.)
One thing that dampens the happy ending for me is that they had made clear via Tara's story that coming out can be extremely stressful, and they end with Nick deciding he's going to come out. And he and Charlie are so happy about that decision, and I can see why they ended it that way, but I can't help thinking their next year is going to be so hard. But it just wouldn't be believable if they showed Nick coming out and had everything be great. Not sure how/if I would do it differently.
I had been thinking for years now that I'm no longer interested in coming out stories, or about young people figuring out that they're queer. I feel like I had seen a lot of those kinds of stories in the past and I was tired of them. But the trailer made it seem really sweet and cute, and I'm glad I watched it. It was well done and I enjoyed it very much. :)
Spoilers for Heartstopper, including the last episode
@mustbetuesday Nice to read what you thought of it! I agree with almost everything!
It's true that there's only 2 or 3 lines about Elle being trans in the show so it's easy to miss it. But I do like that it's normalized in a way? They're not making it a big deal?
Also I have a theory that Isaac will come out as nonbinary in the next season so maybe they'll talk more about gender then?
I was also a bit stressed with the whole bullying thing. Also Charlie's lack of confidence stressed me out a bit too sometimes, like how people constantly had to repeat him that they cared.
I'm re-reading the comics but I'm only at the movie theater scene so I don't remember how their coming out goes. I think it's a fair point about how Tara said it was stressful and yet their happy ending is deciding to coming out 🤔
re: Spoilers for Heartstopper, discussion of trans representation in general
@ikol I didn't actually realize it was based on a comic! That's good to know. Is Isaac nonbinary in the comic?
I also really like that they didn't make a big deal about Elle being trans. I think my main issue is just that like, my wife is always complaining that any time there's a trans woman character on tv, she passes so well that you wouldn't know she was trans, and often there's transphobia that's a little hard to believe because like, how do the transphobe characters even know?? And it makes her feel a little bad I think, comparing herself to these characters who seem effortlessly feminine and have great voices and stuff. But yeah, none of that stuff is the fault of the show, it's just part of a pattern that we've been noticing.
I looked it up and it seems like a season 2 isn't confirmed, but I would definitely watch more!
re: Spoilers for Heartstopper, discussion of trans representation in general, long post
@mustbetuesday Oh yes I hadn't thought about this problem with trans representation, now I understand better! That's very true 🤔 I guess at least in this show the transphobia makes sense because people saw her transition & she was in an all boy's school.
And yes it's a comic! It's available for free online (webtoon among other places), as well as a physical book. The show is extremely comic accurate (most scenes & dialogues are the same) so it's quite fun to read the comic after seeing the show.
And about Isaac. It's complicated 😅 The author of the comic also wrote 4 novels (which I highly recommend except maybe the first one Solitaire) and some of those are based on characters of Heartstopper. In the comic, Isaac's character is named Aled, and Aled has his own novel Radio Silence. In it he doesn't come out as non binary but there are BIG gender vibes, and the author always draws "future Aled" (so post Radio Silence) as very androgynous. It is heavily implied that he would come out as non binary in the future, even though it's not canon yet. Even his wiki page says something like he/him male (heartstopper, Radio Silence), they/them nonbinary (possible future).
Now, in the show the character is named Isaac and not Aled (although they are clearly the same person when you compare the comic and the show) because the author said they wanted to be more free to alter his story, and that Aled's story is set in canonical stone because of Radio Silence. Aled/Isaac is not a huge character, and what happens in Radio Silence is that he makes a podcast & has a boyfriend & some mental health struggles as he starts university, aka years after heartstopper. This wouldn't prevent the author from doing much with the character in heartstopper unless... they want to make him nonbinary.
And the cherry on top of this theory I would say, is that throughout the whole show, Isaac is seen reading books about trans stuff, eg interviews of trans kids (Gender Explorers) etc. I thought that was a big hint towards that.
Also I don't know if the author is nonbinary, but they use she/they pronouns at least.
There, this was my novel about it, I hope it's ok I wrote so much
re: Spoilers for Heartstopper, discussion of trans representation
@ikol Thank you for sharing all this! Yeah, I agree that on it's own, this show's trans representation is great!
Ohh yeah I noticed Isaac reading those books and thought it was interesting, your prediction makes sense to me now with all this context!
Definitely ok that you wrote so much, I appreciate it! :D
Heartstopper adjacent (no spoilers)
@mustbetuesday About the author's other books, I wanted to talk a little bit about them if you're interested in queer YA.
Solitaire is about Tori, Charlie's sister. I didn't like it because it's the story of a good friendship which ends up in a romance which feels extremely forced. The author is aroace and I think maybe they felt forced to transform it in a romance or something? It doesn't work for me.
Radio Silence is about Aled, a suburban white queer kid who makes a podcast quite inspired by Welcome to Night Vale, and he realizes his neighbor (a black queer girl) is the fanartist of the podcast that he loves online! When Aled goes to University, he starts to struggle with mental health a lot and his friend has to go rescue him.
I was born for this is a story about fandoms, where hijabi girl Fereshteh loves a One Direction-like band, where the singer is a trans guy. Following a series of events, the lead singer and Fereshteh end up on an adventure together.
Loveless is about Georgia and her journey to discovering that she's aroace, to accepting it despite loving romantic stories, and to find queer joy with her friends!
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