Heart stroke debuted last week and became an instant hit. Almost immediately he jumped into the streaming giant Top 10 most watched shows. The teen rom-com was also the most-tweeted show of the weekend, according to Varietyand exploded in popularity on TikTok. It boasts an astonishing 100% Fresh rating from reviewers on review aggregator rotten tomatoeswhere it was described as “an inclusive romance told with startling sensitivity” and “so effortlessly charming that viewers won’t dare skip a beat”.
The show is almost unbelievably cute. Based on a webcomic turned graphic novel by Alice Osman, who also wrote the series, it centers on Charlie (Joe Locke), a lovable young teenager who was outed the year before but now finds his way as the only openly gay kid at an English all-boys high school. . He is friends with Tao (William Gao) and the introverted Isaac (Tobie Donovan), though they all miss their friend Elle (Yasmin Finney), who moved to the local girls’ school after coming out as transgender. Soon, Charlie falls for Nick (Kit Connor), an older, more athletic boy who looks like everything Charlie isn’t, but who may have more in common with him than they realize at the time. departure. (If this all doesn’t sound weird enough, Oscar-winning gay icon Olivia Colman presents herself in a small, secret cameo as Nick’s mother, which made me think I was having a gay fever dream.)
There’s been quite a bit of pop culture following young queer characters lately, and stories of coming out aren’t as rare as they once were. But what makes Heart stroke to feel unique is his shameless sentimentality. He delights in building the friendship between Charlie and Nick, then seemingly envelops them in a protective cocoon as they begin to feel something more than friendship. The show is less interested in the sentiment of its characters homosexual feelings for each other than there are in them feelings at all.
These children are about 15 years old; they are still picked up by their parents at night parties, but they begin to form relationships based on genuine love for each other. In a delightful nod to Heart strokeIllustrated roots, animated flashes and flowers seem to dance between the characters as they feel sudden heartbeats or see each other in someone else for the very first time. (Heart strokeThe actors are also real teenagers, instead of actors in their twenties pretending to be high schoolers, which only underlines the sincere naivety of the characters.)
Each actor is perfectly cast, but Connor (who appeared in 2019 Rocketman and voices Pantalaimon in HBO Its dark materials) is particularly strong as Nick, the popular rugby player struggling with his burgeoning bisexuality. It can deliver both charm and angst, sometimes simultaneously; when he receives an Instagram DM from Charlie, his shy smiles are tinged with both excitement and wistful confusion. Nick walks the halls with an easy confidence but also a kindness that makes him a more than believable crush on the sensitive Charlie. The character is described in the series as resembling a golden retriever, but Connor definitely looks like a combination of Princes William and Harry when they were young. Even on the rugby pitch, he sports impeccably blow-dried auburn hair that is somehow always lit with a glow, as if to emphasize the dreamy way Charlie sees him.
When, at the end of the second episode, Nick zooms in on a photo of Charlie, he smiles and fondly strokes his phone with his thumb. He then looks up, suddenly painfully aware of his new crush and all of its complications. So, like any teenager with Internet access, he turns to Google. He can barely bring himself to type the words “Am I gay?” in the search engine, but then, like the eponymous questions in the song “Why am I like this? by Orla Gartland ring, he gathers the courage to complete the search. The screen goes black, the credits roll and I’m in a puddle of tears on the floor.