Nick and Charlie first meet when they are assigned seats next to each other in form / Photo Credit: Netflix
We have seen people like call me by your name, Cucumber and even Love, Simon released over the past few years, telling the stories of unique and bizarre characters who face their own internal turmoil and struggles with differing endgame outcomes and conclusions. So when Alice Oseman’s graphic novel Heart stroke was picked up by Netflix for an original series, those involved knew they had to do everything in their power to stand out from the crowd.
Luckily, they found that by rooting the story in realism and heartbreaking content, they didn’t have to do much more to ensure it was an eight-episode experience that would live on in the story. Oseman wrote a story so incredible that all the team had to do was bring it to life on the small screen and, they do it with incredible precision, lifting scenes and dialogue straight from the pages of the comic.
Heart stroke tells the story of high school teenagers Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor). Charlie is a gay 10th grader and Nick is assumed to be a straight 11th grader by everyone who knows him. The two have adorable hairstyles, and when they are assigned seats next to each other fit for the new school year, quickly strike up an unlikely friendship that leads to sudden romantic feelings between the two. Nick realizes he may not have fully figured out exactly who he and Charlie are? Well, he’s glad there’s a boy in his life now who treats him with kindness and respect.
An unlikely friendship blossoms between the two, who quickly realize their feelings for each other / Photo Credit: Netflix
As the couple visit each other’s house, play video games and catch snow falling on their tongues, their hormone levels hit an all-time high, leaving them confused and nervous, but excited about what their future may hold. book them. Locke and Connor do an amazing job of describing that inner conflict that all teenagers experience at one point or another (and even some adults), whether in a traditional sense, like when to pick up on social cues, or more technical modern communication skills, like typing the perfect private message on Instagram. Their chemistry is absolute fire, and you can cut through the lust-fueled romantic tension with a knife every time they have some quiet time together.
Props must also of course be given to the incredible supporting cast, including Yasmin Finney and Will Gao whose performances as Elle and Tao respectively, will go a long way in giving young people who watch the series confidence in themselves, shamelessly. Corinna Brown is also notable as Tara Jones, with instantly adorable Kizzy Edgell as Darcy Olsson.
Oseman also confirmed that new character Isaac – played by Tobie Donovan – is both aromantic and asexual, otherwise known as Aro/Ace. Although a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s not a term I was familiar with and I think it’s probably very likely for many others who fall under the rainbow umbrella. Seeing Isaac’s backstory and identity explored further in future seasons would be a welcome education, exploring how some people can fall in love, even if it’s not romantic or sexual for the most part.
Judgment from other high schoolers means Nick isn’t immediately open to how he feels / Photo Credit: Netflix
With so many layers, Heart stroke a… well, a lot of heart! It delivers in every way and opens the door for many more stories to be told through charming and relatable characters who help form a pillar of support for young people who may have nowhere to go. A real treat and one that I will definitely watch again and again.
Heart stroke is available to stream now, exclusively on Netflix.
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