Why ‘Heartstopper’ moving to the Children’s & Family Emmys was the right choice
Netflix’s move to campaign its beloved Heartstopper for the first annual Children and Family Emmys not only landed nominations for Outstanding Young Teen Series, for leads Joe Locke and Kit Connor and guest star Olivia Coleman, but also for supporting actors William Gao and Yasmin Finney, signaling the decision a successful one!
Altogether Heartstopper received 9 nominations, coming on the heels of the show entering production on its second season and on the same day star Joe Locke was announced to be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the WandaVision series spinoff Agatha: Coven of Chaos.
Netflix first announced that Heartstopper was vying for the Children and Family Emmys when keen eyes noticed the show missing from Netflix’s FYC pages. This was around the same time that GALECA, the Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics not only nominated it for Best LGBTQ TV Show but also Best TV Performance for Kit Connor and even Best TV Drama (competing against the likes of Succession and eventual winner, Yellowjackets.)
My first thought after the initial announcement was that it was somewhat of a diss – a step down from the Primetime Emmys, especially for a show that I considered worthy to compete amongst the likes of its darker, longer and yes, more adult peers.
I recently saw a tweet from a fan asking Heartstopper creator Alice Oseman if Nick Nelson, the character portrayed by new Emmy nominee (that does sound great, doesn’t it?) Kit Connor could say the “F” word. Alice’s response – “if he did we automatically get a higher age rating and therefore less people will get to watch it but the comic has lots of swearing and always will.”
Having delved into Oseman’s other works, including the more adult Solitaire, the Heartstopper graphic novels, and the Nick and Charlie novella, I began to understand that although we are dealing with teens here, in a world with Euphoria and Gossip Girl, the Heartstopper TV series is the most family friendly of the bunch and makes sense to be celebrated as such.
Heading into the nominations I wasn’t sure what might happen. Of course there was some fear. There’s always fear when you love a show this much and perhaps more so when the show is an LGBTQ show. And there was the question of how an LGBTQ show, even one as wholesome as this one, would fare amongst other Children and Family shows. “Is Heartstopper appropriate” was trending on Google for a time after all.
Once I saw Locke and Connor’s nominations along with the show, of course in retrospect it seemed ordained, but seeing costars Gao and Finney nominated for their roles as Elle and Tao was the moment I understood. Would they have made it into the Primetime Emmys? A question we no longer have to answer. Not to mention, the Children and Family Emmys in their very first standalone year have nominated an out transgender actor, something that took the Primetime Emmys decades to accomplish.
In addition to those already mentioned, Oseman received a nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Young Teen Program and the wonderful casting team at Daniel Edwards Casting which perfectly brought so many of the beloved characters to life, all while actively seeking LGBTQ actors/allies and actual teens to play the roles, was recognized.
Of course there could have been more, including many of the crafts in which the show wasn’t nominated. I would have very much liked to see the show’s Music Department recognized for the incredible use of songs in the show. In addition to Casting, the only other craft category represented with a nomination was Makeup and Hairstyling.
The most glaring omission though is the snub of Euros Lyn for directing the series. The tone he set (along with Oseman and producer Patrick Walters) is much of what makes the show great. I can’t help but think of the incredible moment where he brings Tara and Darcy’s first kiss to life as they are bathed in rainbow lights as Nick watches amidst his own bi-pride colors. Come to think of it, the lack of a cinematography nomination for that scene alone is a bit disappointing as well.
Heartstopper’s lessons may have had a different impact on its adult fans as many of us simply wished we could have had a dose of its innocence and joy in our own teenage lives. For today’s teens and children, perhaps they are learning along with the fictional characters the show portrays that coming out should be on your own terms and no one else’s. We only need to look at what happened with Kit Connor mere hours before he received his first Emmy nomination when he came out as bisexual after feeling forced to do so by toxic fandom for a real life example. Although the show belongs to all of us, it is clear to me that its greatest message, for some, is still to be learned.
The first season of Heartstopper is currently available to stream on Netflix. Season two is now in production.