With sharp writing, an optimistic outlook, and an excellent cast, Heartstopper is a superb television show which places a positive spotlight on the LGBTQ+ community. The series – based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alice Oseman – stars Joe Locke and Kit Connor, and since making its debut on Netflix has become a smash-hit with audience of all ages.
If you’ve already worked your way through the show, you’ll know how good Heartstopper is. But if you’ve only watched the series once, there’s a very good chance you’ve missed some key details.
In this post I am taking a look at all of these key details through a rundown of 20 things you might have missed about Heartstopper. From nods to the original graphic novels to a quick cameo from the show’s creator, these are all the things to pay attention to on your next rewatch.
Charlie’s wish list
First up, let’s focus on something truly wonderful. I’m calling this, Charlie’s wish list.
During the first episode of Heartstopper, Charlie is on the bus with his sister, Tori, as they both travel to school. Moments before they got on the bus, Charlie revealed to Tori that he had broken up with his (sort of) boyfriend, Ben – a fellow student who made Charlie keep their relationship a secret.
Knowing that Charlie is having a difficult time, in light of the break-up of the secret relationship, Tori asks her brother what positive characteristics he would like from a future boyfriend. Charlie responds by saying: “…someone I can have a laugh with, and, …and who’s nice. And kind. And likes being with me. I’d probably just settle for someone who is tall.”
During an initial watch of the show, Charlie’s comments appear to be just wishful thinking, and something which may not come to pass; but this wish list is far more important than it first appears. Why? Because all of the qualities that Charlie seeks in his dream guy is what he eventually finds in Nick, including someone who is taller than him.
In many LGBTQ+ dramas, the lead characters state what they want in a partner, but often don’t get the relationship they seek. Heartstopper bucks the trend by giving Charlie exactly what he asks for.
Next up is Heartstopper’s inclusion of an important queer symbol throughout the show, which you may have missed, but you’ll certainly be looking out for on your next viewing. That symbol is the rainbow.
Amongst the queer community, the rainbow (or the rainbow flag) has come to represent inclusivity and acceptance. Many gay-friendly venues fly a rainbow flag to inform customers they are entering a safe space, while many queer people will often demonstrate their place within the community by wearing rainbow pins, badges, or clothing.
The rainbow is an easily identifiable symbol, which crops up time-and-time again within queer stories, and yep, if you’re eagle-eyed enough, you can see it placed throughout Heartstopper. On most occasions, the rainbow crops up quite subtly, usually as part of a lens flare.
If you paid attention throughout Heartstopper, you will have noticed Charlie’s friend, Isaac, always has a book in his hand. Almost every scene involving Isaac includes a novel of some sort, as the character loves to read.
I’ve previously published a list of all the books Isaac reads throughout the show, but one that needs to be flagged up is the book Radio Silence. And it needs to be flagged up because this is an in-joke, as it is a book written by Heartstopper creator, Alice Oseman.
And sticking with Alice Oseman for a moment leads onto a neat little cameo from the creator/author, which takes place in episode 8. If you look closely enough, Oseman can be seen (very briefly) sat on the same train that Charlie and Nick take when they head off to the beach.
Oh, and when you spot the cameo, you’ll also notice a rainbow on Oseman’s bag.
Don’t just look out for Alice Oseman on the train, also pay attention to the background in this scene. In particular, look above Charlie, Nick, and Alice where you will see paintings of leaves.
As fans will now, cartoon leaves appear across the Heartstopper series, and feature heavily in the original Heartstopper graphic novels too. Leaves are used to add a degree of whimsy to the Heartstopper story, and to create the understanding that Charlie and Nick’s journey is natural – just as natural as any other love story.
With Nick and Charlie getting together in a more open way in episode 8, it seems only appropriate the characters should be surrounded by these leaves as they head off toward their happy ending. So, look around and you will find them!
Tree of life
And speaking of the leaves, the idea of nature is also put into play in scenes set in the art room – specifically via a mural of a tree, which is painted on the floor and can be seen in a couple of episodes. In episode 7, Charlie is sat on top of the mural, conjuring up the idea that in this moment he is rooted to the spot, held back, and not as carefree as he should be.
If you’ve read the Heartstopper graphic novels, then you will know the show sticks pretty closely to the original source material. One such example is the recreation of Charlie‘s bedroom.
Charlie’s ‘MUSIC’ sign, which hangs on his wall, is directly lifted from the comics.
And it’s not just the sets that are replicated from the comics, various scenes are adapted very closely too, including a scene where Nick gets covered in blue ink. This scene is taken directly from the comics.
Darcy & Tara in the music room
Let’s move onto a couple of Heartstopper characters now, beginning with Tara and Darcy. These are two characters who develop a relationship in the show.
But did you know, that while Tara and Darcy play a significant part in the series, the characters don’t feature that prominently in the early graphic novels. However, they do get their own side story in the Heartstopper Vol 2 graphic novel, in the form of a mini-comic titled ‘The Practice Room’.
This mini-comic was adapted into the series, to flesh out Tara & Darcy’s story on screen. The events depicted in this mini comic feature in episode 6, when Tara & Darcy temporarily get locked in the music room.
Someone not to look out for in Heartstopper is the character, Aled, who – along with Tao and Elle – is one of Charlie’s best friends in the original comics. However, in the series, Aled is replaced by a character called Isaac.
Why is Aled replaced with Isaac? Because Aled’s story plays out in the novel, Radio Silence, and Alice Oseman wanted to respect his literary journey by not making changes to his character for the Heartstopper TV series. Instead, Oseman introduced Isaac as a new character into the show, in order to have free reign over his journey moving forward.
Say my name
While Heartstopper is a beautifully crafted show, which is praised for its attention to detail when it comes to its characters and story, there is at least one noticeable mistake in the show, which slipped into the final edit. Did you spot it?
The mistake takes place in episode 7, in a scene where Charlie is sat in his dad’s car, just before he meets Nick at the cinema. During the scene, Charlie and his dad are talking, with his dad reassuring Charlie that he’s there for him when needed.
But during this scene, Charlie’s dad mistakenly refers to Charlie as Joe. Joe is of course the name of actor Joe Locke, who plays Charlie in the show.
This little slip-up somehow went unnoticed when filming and ended up in the final cut. Although it is worth noting that if you watch Heartstopper with the subtitles on, the onscreen text on Netflix replaces the name ‘Joe’ with ‘Charlie’ to (sort of) undo the mistake.
Somebody’s watching me
Sticking with episode 7, and you will recall a tense moment toward the end of the episode, where Charlie is confronted by his ex-boyfriend, Ben. During the confrontation, Ben says that he saw how Nick and Charlie were acting around each other in the cinema, leading him to believe the two are an item.
What’s worth noting here is that Ben’s words are not just empty lines written into the script. Go back and watch the cinema scene and you will see that Ben is positioned directly behind Charlie and Nick, meaning he has the perfect view of the pair throughout the film.
So, when he says that he saw them, he really did. Not only was he watching a movie, he was also keeping a close eye on Charlie and Nick.
The voice of authority
You may have spotted this one, you may not; but does the voice of Charlie’s headmaster sound familiar to you? He should!
The headmaster of Truham Grammar School, who is occasionally heard but never seen, is that of openly gay actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry. Fry provides vocals for the show as a voice of authority.
The art of teaching
And sticking with familiar teaching staff, if you recognise Charlie’s art teacher, Mr. Ajayi, that’s because he is played by Fisayo Akinade. You may know Akinade from the role of Dean in the excellent British LGBTQ+ drama, Cucumber.
One actor that audiences instantly recognise in Heartstopper is Olivia Colman, who pops up in multiple scenes across the series, playing Nick’s mum, Sarah. But did you know, that while Colman appears in various episodes, all of her scenes were filmed in just two days?
It’s true! Colman had to cram in her scenes in a limited timeframe.
The sounds of Heartstopper
When putting together Heartstopper for television, the production team enhanced the story with the use of music. Dotted throughout the show is an excellent assortment of songs which reflect the tone and mood of the story.
One such tune is ‘Why Am I Like This?’ by Orla Gartland. The title of this song is perfectly suited to a story about LGBTQ+ teens who are questioning their sexuality and place in the world, because it essentially asks the question: ‘Why am I the way I am?’
The title also closely lines up with a phrase that both Charlie and Nick say in the series. At different points in the show they both ask each other the question: ‘Why are we like this?’
Now onto something a little darker, and a scene in episode 8 when Charlie talks with his sister, Tori, about problems which have occurred since he started seeing Nick. As fans will recall, the scene is an emotional sequence, with Charlie making it clear he believes the world would be a better place without him.
Of course, this isn’t true, and Tori convinces her brother this isn’t the case, but for a brief moment it seems as if Charlie is struggling with his mental health. And he is.
Fans of the graphic novel will know this isn’t the first time Charlie has had mental health issues. In the comics which are set after this series, it is revealed that Charlie has struggled with mental health issues in the past, and he battles with an eating disorder.
The scene in episode 8 not only makes it clear that the negativity and bullying has impacted Charlie’s mental state, but also foreshadows deeper mental health discussions to come.
Location, location, location
Live in the UK and recognise some of the locations in Heartstopper? That’s not all that surprising, because the show was filmed in various places throughout England, including Slough, High Wycombe, and Essex.
If you’re wondering where the beach scene in episode 8 was filmed, that was Herne Bay. Herne Bay High School also doubled for Truham Grammar School in the series.
Follow your heart
Heartstopper is filled with key moments which are guaranteed to reduce audiences to tears. One such moment is during episode 8 when Nick abandons an important rugby game to confess his full feelings to Charlie.
The scene is cute and truly delightful to watch as it plays out in a positive way, but there is a little bit more to the scene than Nick simply walking away from a game on a whim. He walks away from the game because this is the first moment in which he has seen Charlie all day, and therefore this is the first opportunity he has to speak to him.
Prior to the match, Nick and Charlie had no contact. Charlie was struggling with his mental health, and Nick was unable to speak to him in person, which was a cause for concern.
As Nick knows that making sure Charlie‘s mental health is more important than a game, he feels compelled to go and speak to him as soon as possible. Leaving the rugby game in episode 8 isn’t just a romantic gesture, it is a moment where Nick puts Charlie first over everything else, to ensure that he is OK.
And finally, while you’ve been getting caught up in the drama of Nick and Charlie’s relationship, you may not have noticed that every episode of Heartstopper is directed by Euros Lyn. Lyn will be familiar to those who love British drama, as he has directed episodes of Black Mirror, Sherlock, Torchwood, Broadchurch, Cucumber, and Doctor Who, including the fan favourite episode, The Girl in the Fireplace.
If you’re a fan of Alice Oseman’s books or you are just getting started with her stories, then you may wish to know that all of Oseman’s books are currently available to buy, including the Heartstopper graphic novels.
The first book in the Heartstopper series is the appropriately titled Heartstopper: Volume 1.
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this post about Heartstopper. I hope it has proved useful and has encouraged you to embark on a complete rewatch of this truly delightful show.
If you want more Heartstopper posts, or more content about the LGBTQ+ community, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.
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