Binged through ‘Heartstopper’ and in need of a new fix? Ellie Muir offers seven suggestions
It’s no surprise that they’re already asking for a second season.
Like a PG-appropriate Call Me by Your Name crossed with Netflix’s Sex Education, Alice Oseman’s graphic novel adaptation follows the unlikely budding romance of two British schoolboys: self-identified nerd Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and popular rugby star Nick Nelson (Kit Connor).
The eight-episode series has been applauded for its heartwarming depiction of unwavering friendship, affection and LGBT+ youth, as well as meaningful conversations about coming out and mental health.
The reaction of Nick’s mother, played by Olivia Colman (which fans can’t get over), to her son coming out has been commended by viewers for being a glowing example of an earnest and supportive reaction a parent can have in such a conversation.
And while sports-mad Nick is still figuring out his sexuality, Heartstopper doesn’t revolve around this narrative but portrays coming out as a way of sharing your sexuality on your own terms.
Many shows that have come before have focused on the trauma of the queer experience but Heartstopper found a perfect balance between romance and adversity – and has helped young queer people feel comfortable with who they are.
If you can’t wait until a prospective second season to get your next fix, wel, there are plenty of uplifting queer films and series on Netflix that will fill your Heartstopper void.
Netflix’s Young Royals is a gay high school drama that navigates schoolboy Prince Wilhelm of Sweden’s (Edvin Ryding) first same-sex romance. In comparison to the wholesome Heartstopper, Lisa Ambjörn’s TV drama features more drugs and alcohol in depicting the indulgent lifestyle of the prestigious Swedish boarding school where the series is set. When Wilhelm is sent to the school to save his reputation, he meets his alluring classmate Simon (Omar Rudberg) and their relationship blooms.
The Half of It
Another tender high school romance flourishes in Alice Wu’s Netflix teen rom-com. In Half Of It, the film’s bookish queer protagonist Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) – with a geekiness similar to that of Heartstopper’s Charlie Spring – comes up against her true feelings when she is tasked to ghostwrite love letters on behalf of the high school jock, Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer). Aster (Alexxis Lemire), his crush, soon becomes Ellie’s crush too.
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While the sweet longing of Heartstopper is not as present in this series, it’s similarly a tale of self-acceptance and high school romance.
The Dutch series revolves around 20-something author, Anne (Hanna van Vliet) who is set to pack up her life in Amsterdam and move to Montreal to be with her long-term girlfriend Sara (Jouman Fattal), who wishes to be polyamorous.
Still figuring out what she wants, Anne meets non-binary drag artist Lou (Thorn de Vrie) who lets her into their world, and changes her perspective on love, life and sexuality, all while Anne is on a mission to finish writing her book. Aimed at an older audience than Heartstopper – this is less of a PG romance – self-discovery and sexuality are crossover themes between the two.
Almost identical to the set-up of Heartstopper, Netflix’s Handsome Devil focuses on the friendship between a popular rugby player and his quiet boarding-school roommate. Set in a prestigious Irish school, John Butler’s film is an exploration of an unlikely friendship-cum-supportive alliance.
Andrew Scott plays an inspirational but aggressive English teacher, En, who urges the boys to be themselves, as he coaches them through the challenging stages of adolescence. Another coming-of-age moment for schoolboys bumbling their way through teenhood.
High school class president Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny) is in love with his girlfriend. He’s ready to seal the deal and lose his virginity until he develops a relationship with Elliot (Antionia Marziale), a charming and openly gay friend from the other side of town.
Elliot unwittingly takes Alex on a whirlwind journey of sexual discovery, adventure and love. Alex’s confusion about his sexuality seems to follow him everywhere, as even the logos on his morning cereal boxes start signposting his dilemma (his “crispy cakes” morph into “gay flakes”). The big question around his sexuality haunts him throughout the series.
I Am Not Okay with This
After losing her father, a scruffy and babyfaced 17-year-old Sydney Novak (Sophia Lillis) tries to remake her world, navigating loss and adolescence in this angst-ridden, zit-prone coming of age series. Based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel, I Am Not Okay with This is the second television adaption by Jonathan Entwistle – the first was The End of the F***ing World – and their collaboration once more produces a chaotic, relatable and cathartic look at teenhood.
As Sydney comes to grips with her sexuality and the telekinesis-like powers that she possibly inherited from her dad (not forgetting the zits on her thighs), sexuality refuses to be put on a pedestal. In plaas daarvan, it’s portrayed as just one of the inevitable parts of teenhood.
A Secret Love
Away from the halls of high school, A Secret Love is a Netflix documentary following a former baseball player who kept her lesbian relationship a secret from her family for seven decades.
The dramatic reflection is an uplifting yet bittersweet insight into the relationship of Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, as the pair move into a nursing home, becoming the first same-sex couple in the residence. This educational documentary tells the story of courage, secrecy and difference in changing times.
‘Heartstopper’ season one is available to stream now on Netflix.