Is Heartstopper Based on a True Story?

Image Credit: Rob Youngson/Netflix

Created by Alice Oseman, Netflix’s romantic series ‘Heartstopper’ follows Charlie Spring, who has a crush on his schoolmate Nick Nelson. Charlie and Nick develop a bond as they attend a class together as deskmates. The teen show progresses through Charlie’s moving affection for Nick, who begins his journey of self-discovery. The two of them share love and intimacy while facing their school community’s homophobia. As the astonishing tale of the two young lovers succeeds in conquering the viewers’ souls, one must be getting curious about the possible real-life origins of the same. If that’s the case, consider us your ally!

Is Heartstopper Based on a True Story?

‘Heartstopper’ is partially based on a true story. The show is based on creator Alice Oseman’s eponymous graphic novel, published in four volumes, adapted to the TV show by the author herself. Oseman was inspired by her own life as a student in a single-sex grammar school, situated in a conservative English town, to conceive the premise of the novel’s narrative. The lives and experiences of the people she encountered in the school became the foundations, rather than outright models, of the characters of ‘Heartstopper.’ Charlie and Nick first appeared in Oseman’s novel ‘Solitaire’ as minor characters, only for the author to expand their story as the eponymous webcomic, which became the graphic novel.

As an aromantic asexual, Oseman’s familiarity with the challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community influenced her in the creation of ‘Heartstopper.’ The author’s real-life experiences, which reflects in the novel and the show, make Charlie and Nick’s story authentic and relatable. “I do believe things have improved even since I started writing Heartstopper, but definitely since I was in school myself. There’s still a lot of homophobia, transphobia, and bullying out there though, so I’m sure some people will relate [to ‘Heartstopper’],” she told Buzzfeed.

As Oseman mentioned, the narrative of ‘Heartstopper’ addresses several alarming concerns faced by the LGBTQIA+ community of the 21st century, especially in educational institutions. As per a November 2020 report, gay, bisexual, and transgender students studying in English schools suffer from bullying due to the homophobia and transphobia present in the institutions. Charlie and Elle’s experiences in the show are not drastically different from the reality we live in. The challenges Nick faces to question and explore his sexuality can also be connected to the homophobia present in our society.

While adapting the novel to a television show, Oseman expanded the storylines of numerous characters to take advantage of the scope of the medium. “One of the big things we did which is different to the comics is expand the supporting characters, in particular Tao, Elle, Tara, and Darcy. They have so much more to do in the show!” she added to Buzzfeed. In addition, the creator excluded Aled and Oliver, two characters present in the novel, while conceiving the narrative of the show. Oseman also created two characters, Isaac and Imogen, exclusively for the show’s narrative.

Adapting her work to a TV show was a challenging experience for Oseman. She also mentioned that the pacing of the story varied quite a bit from its literary counterpart due to the difference in the mediums. While problems could be “resolved pretty much immediately” in the comics, the TV show features more angst and other issues to really flesh out a well-written script. Still, Oseman succeeded in incorporating the soul of the comic into the show incredibly.

Read More: Where is Heartstopper Filmed?