A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Supportive friendships are hugely important, and true friends accept one another's quirks. Themes of integrity, communication, and empathy are strong and central.
Positive Role Models
Charlie is an out gay teen, and he's accepted and loved by most people around him. Nick is true-hearted, kind, and supportive, and he becomes a loving romantic companion to Charlie. Their core friend group is loyal and caring. Some of those who bully or put others down ultimately make progress and demonstrate learning and positive change. Adults are present and caring: Charlie has a teacher he can relate to who gives him good advice about being honest with others and accepting of his own feelings. His parents are caring and hug their son and comfort him when he's distressed; Nick's mum is also present and supportive (his father and brother are much less so).
Main characters Charlie and Nick are both White; several of their friends are people of color. Charlie is gay, and Nick is bisexual. Their fellow students (as well as the teachers at school) are of many different races, ages, body types/sizes, sexual identities, gender identities, and ethnicities. One important character is transgender; another is asexual. A minor character uses a wheelchair.
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Violence & Scariness
In one episode, Charlie is subject to sexual violence at the hands of a "boyfriend" who kisses him and pushes him up against a wall as Charlie says "Stop!" Charlie was also subject to bullying; we see him pictured in a dark room as critical messages appear on-screen (i.e. Charlie was "asking for it," and someone says they'd "rather be dead than gay"). Arguments/sharp words.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of romance, flirting, kissing, dating. More attention is paid to feelings than sex, and romance largely consists of gentle kissing and hand-holding, but there are some passionate embraces (one leading to a prominent hickey) and the suggestion that sex might happen, but nothing graphic is discussed or shown. Teens who are dating lie in bed together with their clothes on. It's implied that two teachers have a sexual hook-up.
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Some use of "s--t" and "d--k." British slang: "knob," "piss off." The word "ass" appears in a text, and "f-g" is used.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens at a party hold plastic cups, but it's not shown what they're drinking, and no one acts drunk. During a school trip, teens have a large hotel room party and pour each other big drinks; at least one character drinks to the point of getting sick.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Heartstopper is a romance between teen boys that's set in England and based on the webcomic and graphic novel series by Alice Oseman. Since a romantic relationship is central to the plot, expect flirting, dating, and kissing. There's lots of emphasis on liking others: who has a crush on whom, who's texting whom, etc. But sexual content is mainly confined to kisses (though some get pretty passionate), hand-holding, and teens lying together in bed with their clothes on. In one scene, a boy who was bullied when classmates found out he was gay is depicted as a lonely figure while voices and written messages on the screen taunt him. One character tries to forcefully kiss another; a third character pulls him off and shoves him away. Language isn't frequent but includes "s--t," "d--k," and a use of "f-g"; "ass" appears in a text, and there's British slang like "knob" and "piss off." On a school trip, teens drink, one to the point of throwing up. Characters are supportive of one another and largely kind, friends and family members hug and are honest with their feelings, and themes of integrity and empathy are strong.
Is It Any Good?
This teen romance is as sweet and lovable as a puppy, drenched in wholesome emotions and stocked with good-hearted characters trying, and usually doing, their best. Nick and Charlie share a palpable chemistry and look and feel like real teens; their slowly realistically building friendship-turned-romance is simply lovely, and the hand-drawn graphics that appear on-screen during the most intense moments feel true to the heart: bubbling hearts and flying leaves twirling around the pixilated boys, golden light and sparks that emanate when their hands get close together. It's simply beautiful, whether or not you've been lucky enough to experience those same emotions at the same tender age.
Beautiful, too, are the relationships between the show's characters, teen pals who tease each other gently and support each other stout-heartedly and are transparent about their feelings. When Charlie outlines what his dream man might look like to his quirky sister, Tori (Jenny Walser), his list of qualities is delightfully healthy: "Someone I can have a laugh with. Someone who's nice and kind. And likes being with me." Group hugs are frequent, and support is unconditional between friends. These are characters who are easy to love in a romance that's so gentle and relatable you could watch it with your grandma or your own true love, and everyone would sigh exactly the same.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.