Saturday, April 23, 2022

REVIEW: 'Heartstopper' - Charlie and Nick Must Believe They Are Deserving of Happiness Together in 'Boyfriend'

Netflix's Heartstopper - Episode 1.08 "Boyfriend"

As the boys and girls schools meet for a Sports Day, Charlie's on the brink of breaking it all off with Nick while Elle and Tao share a special moment.

"Boyfriend" was written by Alice Oseman and directed by Euros Lyn

Hi. The emotional climax of this season shouldn't work. So much of it is built on developments that happened in the previous year for Charlie. And yet, it shockingly does because the creative team has such a strong command of tone and character. The audience feels every emotional development. It's genuinely heartwarming and informed with every move made. It's breathtaking honestly. Charlie was bullied after he was outed. His first relationship with Ben made him feel inadequate and destructive. He projects those feelings of doom onto his new relationship with Nick. He believes he is ruining Nick's life. In actuality, Nick's life before meeting Charlie was terrible. His friends are mean. They embody the pressure to fit into the heteronormative version of society. Playing sports leads to popularity. Anyone who disagrees is a social outcast who deserves absolute torment. They are the ones failing to adapt to what's normal. No one should ever diminish their light just in order to fit in with other people. That wouldn't be authentic. It would only case more pain and heartbreak. Charlie has so many people he can confide in about his emotions at every turn. It's devastating when he tells Tori he feels people would be better off without him in their lives. That's a cry for help that can signal much deeper issues. Charlie wants to project a sense of everything being okay. He has accepted the bullying he endures as a gay person in society. It's simply something he must bear. It's not worth it for Nick to get into fights defending his honor. It still forces Charlie to be small. He is asked to just sit back and take it. Others hate themselves and feel good lashing out at someone they perceive as being lower on the social ladder. It's not right. These characters exist in an environment that doesn't know how to be welcoming. The people who matter are completely accepting. However, the school still prioritizes sports. No one can blame Charlie, Tao and Elle for wanting nothing to do with this Sports Day. It seems absolutely agonizing. Instead of being a celebration, it's an epic display of physicality for the students to judge one another. It's not a supportive environment. It's much easier when Charlie and Nick can break free. Their time together on the beach is absolutely magical. Their connection was magnetic the first time they met. The season did a phenomenal job in presenting the agony of wanting to be together. They second guessed every glimpse, every verbal exchange, every text message, and every physical gesture. Anything could indicate something beyond friendship. Everyone deserves the freedom to figure themselves out. It can still be hard when facing the pressure of the world.

Charlie and Nick believe they continually have to apologize to one another. It's not necessary. It's the way they have been conditioned to behave though. Charlie fears the worst. He believes Nick will ultimately resent him for ruining his life. He's turning his back on his friends and the sport he has dedicated his life to. Rugby means so much at this school. It's insane because the actual game is complete nonsense. It doesn't matter if anyone understands the rules. It's simply meant to be a show of support for the central group of friends. It's not where Charlie belongs. He was filling space. He was there to make Nick more comfortable. It still took so much pressure for Nick to ultimately see the greatness standing in front of him. It's better to spend time with Charlie. His mother saw that. She knew her son was more like himself when he was around Charlie. She may not have known they were dating. However, she gives the absolute perfect response to the news. She's happy. She wants Nick to be able to tell her anything. She sees how important this friendship is. It has blossomed into so much more. Of course, a relationship can't come at the expense of friends either. Tao has really struggled from Charlie being more enamored with Nick. He saw it as a fantasy relationship. One that couldn't actually happen. It did. Charlie was scared to tell Tao about it. The queer clique celebrates one another. They can have meaningful conversations about what this coming out process is like. They never pressure each other to be something they're not. They are supportive no matter what. Friendships are ultimately mended. It simply takes work. Charlie has to prioritize that as well. He can be so self-defeating. He wants to protect people from being with him. He is deserving of so much more. Nick wants him to believe that. He is willing to showcase that to the world too. He is willing to come out. It's not something he is pressured to do. It's necessary simply for others to acknowledge his relationship with Charlie. It will change things. And yet, the relationship can grow stronger because it leads with confidence from both individuals. Ben can't let his misery infect Charlie. The bullies would love to tear others down. Charlie and Nick only got stronger. They were tested. It was never something teenagers couldn't handle though. This show is so grounded in this experience. It champions a community and ensures their stories are being seen onscreen. It's so empowering. It's emotional too. This visibility will save lives. The characters are still complex. They are strengthened by the events of the season. That forges greatness and builds to a solid yet emotional conclusion. Bye.