Netflix’s original series “Heartstopper” featuring Kit Connor and Joe Locke. The show is a queer coming-of-age story creating a safe space for the misrepresented community. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Netflix’s hit queer show “Heartstopper” was confirmed for two additional seasons at the end of its successful first season with a 100% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 97% audience rating. Alice Oseman, the writer of both the webcomic and the television adaptation, announced the news herself in a post on her Instagram account.

“Heartstopper” is a British queer coming-of-age story about two high school boys, one of whom is an openly gay student, who become close after being seated next to one another in a class. Unlike typical queer films and series, the show depicts LGBTQ+ characters and their stories in a realistic and positive light while simultaneously creating a safe space for the often misrepresented and underrepresented community.

“We really have tried our best to be as inclusive and representative as possible but at the same time, everyone’s experience in life is different,” Kit Connor, who plays lead character Nick Nelson, said in an interview with NME. “We very much tried our best to portray that and create a safe space for the queer community in particular.”

The show changes the dark queer narrative that is prevalent in film and replaces it with a coming-of-age story of acceptance, young love and exploration while placing LGBTQ+ characters at the forefront.

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While there have been an increasing number of LGBTQ+ storylines in the mainstream media, including major titles like “The Boys in the Band” and “Call Me By Your Name,” they are only some of the many films that depict dreadful backdrops or tragic endings, which furthers the idea that leading an LGBTQ+ lifestyle is wrong and that their stories are lesser than that of heterosexuals.

“Our show, what it’s done so greatly in season one, is show issues that have previously been portrayed as a dark and scary thing from an optimistic way,” Joe Locke, who plays the secondary lead role as Charlie Spring, said on a podcast episode of Reign with Josh Smith.

“I’m so happy that a show like this exists for the teens out there who need a show that makes them feel like they’re a part of a community that’s well represented in media, and not just as little add-ons to a very heteronormative TV series for representation,” Ashley Valenton, a student at Stony Brook University, commented.

The series serves to provide a sense of pride for the queer community but also to support those within the community who may struggle to gain acceptance. A viewer of the show posted a tweet about how they used Nick’s coming out scene to help them come out to their own parents.

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“That is such an unbelievable thing: to be able to have that kind of influence on a person’s life and give them that kind of confidence,” Locke said in an interview with NME. To be able to say that I had any kind of part in that is wonderful.”

Show creator Oseman set out to produce a work that could entertain as well as build “experiences so many queer people can relate to.” There is a lack of representation for bisexual characters in many shows. Accurate representation of bisexuality is important, as society is more accepting of this orientation for women as opposed to that of gay men, lesbians and especially bisexual men. 

Lily, a student at SUNY Albany, recently discovered her identity as bisexual. “I felt a connection with the show and to Nick, [especially] the way he was battling with sexuality and finding himself as a person.” Lily declined to give her last name.

Season two of the show is set to begin filming Sept. 13, 2022 in London, U.K. and is expected to wrap up filming “before the holidays in December.”

“I’m honestly pumped. Given the fact that the first season exceeded my expectations, I’m interested to see what they have in store,” Valenton said. “I hope that they target other aspects of LGBTQ+ relationships and LGBTQ+ in general other than just the perception of the public and themselves.”

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