Home / WorldWide / Despite Praise, Netflix Original ‘Heartstopper’ Isn’t The Queer Representation We’ve Been Looking For

Despite Praise, Netflix Original ‘Heartstopper’ Isn’t The Queer Representation We’ve Been Looking For

Though audiences love the television adaption of the graphic novel its supposed revolutionary queer representation sacrifices W-L-W characters to benefit M-L-M relationships.For the first time ever lesbians hold the largest share of LGBTQ + representation making up 40% of all queer characters portrayed on broadcast television in the year 2022. This number has doubled in size over the past five years In 2017 the same survey identified only 24% of LGBTQ+ characters as lesbians a fact that reaffirms the significance of the new lesbian plurality. But beyond just the growth in sapphic representation this achievement is notable for the queer community because historically speaking gay men tend to dominate queer representation within the mainstream media and that is no different in Netflix Heart-stopper.

So this is a good thing right Are lesbian characters finally getting the recognition they deserve Well not exactly. While the quantity of representation for lesbians and other sexualities is increasing the quality remains just as poor.

When looking at statistics its important to consider exactly what information is being gathered. In these annual reports on LGBTQ+ representation in television researchers consider the total number of queer characters across the medium but exclude details such as screen time or character development in their statistics. So while television might feature a recordbreaking number of lesbian characters at the moment that does not mean their representation is also at its peak.

The ill and underrepresentation of lesbian characters extends far beyond the reaches of broadcast television. In television and media of all forms trends continue to favor menlovingmen MLM relationships over womenlovingwomen WLW ones. Even in the best examples of queer media this injustice persists.

Netflixs new original series Heartstopper based on Alice Osemans graphic novels is often praised by fans as a revolutionary example of young queer love. Hollywood Insider writer and Heartstopper fan Anica Muñoz described the show as a lively and fresh adaptation that truly understands the curiosity of friendship and the LGBTQ+ experience. While reviews celebrating the shows depiction of queer joy are valid its important to realize that any claim of groundbreaking LGBTQ+ representation only applies to the G.

In internet circles Heartstopper is known for featuring a variety of supporting characters of many different queer identities examples of such representation include trans girl Elle Argent Yasmin Finney a trans actor herself and lesbians Tara Jones Corinna Brown and Darcy Olsson Kizzy Edgell. However despite the offscreen love shown for these characters there is no denying that the primary — and arguably only legitimate — representation within Heartstopper is its MLM relationship between schoolboys Charlie Spring Joe Locke and Nick Nelson Kit Connor.

Charlie and Nick could not be more different Charlie a dorky year 10 student with a small group of friends is an outsider while Nick a star rugby player and year 11 heartthrob is the most popular boy in school. The biggest difference though is that Charlie is the only openly gay student at school and Nick is not. Everybody believes Nick is straight — including himself — but after a seating chart miracle lands the two boys at the same table nothing can stop Nick from falling for Charlie just as Charlie falls for Nick.The distinction between the treatment of MLM protagonists Charlie and Nick and other supporting characters is simple but significant Heartstopper features a variety of queer identities but it does not represent them.

So why include other queer supporting characters if you dont plan on representing them In dramatic cases writers and producers might tokenize LGBTQ+ characters as a way to appear inclusive however considering the original source material such a situation is doubtful here. Rather the lack of development for supporting characters likely stems from cuts made to the story during the transition from text to television Heartstopper as a series of graphic novels has thousands of pages to introduce characters and develop relationships but Heartstopper as a television show has only four hours to tell the same story — and more. So to preserve the central plot side characters must make sacrifices.

WLW characters Tara and Darcy in particular make many of these sacrifices. In the Netflix show their relationship is used on multiple occasions as a plot device propelling forward the central MLM story of Nick and Charlie.When flashbacks of a kiss shared at a year 7 dance establish Tara as Nicks most influential crush it suddenly becomes vital to emphasize the impossibility of a future romance between their characters — after all Heartstopper is the love story of Nick and Charlie not Nick and Tara. So to stress the platonic nature of Nick an

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