Netflix 'Heartstopper': Joe Locke on the Show Being the 'Anti-Euphoria'

heartstopper joe locke
Courtesy Netflix 2022

Since Heartstopper season 1 dropped on Netflix in April, fans have gone crazy for the adorable queer teen show — and for good reason.

Based on the webcomic of the same name by Alice Oseman, the series follows Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and Nick Nelson’s (Kit Connor) budding romance as Nick discovers his newfound bisexuality. It also follows their group of friends, which includes a newly-out lesbian couple and a post-transition trans girl.

Naturally, fans are comparing the show to its contemporaries, namely HBO’s Euphoria.

While the two shows have wildly different vibes, they do deal with some of the same themes, namely queer teen romance, post-transition trans life, and high school friendships.

In fact, viewers have even dubbed Heartstopper the “anti-Euphoria”, a nickname that star Joe Locke totally agrees with.

In an interview with The Independent, Joe said,

“There are opposites in our story. Our story is not so based on sex, because our characters are turning 15 and 16 in the series, so it’s more about relationships and love. It’s a more optimistic piece. It shows the really nice things about being queer.”

(It’s worth noting that the Euphoria characters are only *slightly* older than those in Heartstopper with Rue Bennett and her friends mostly 17 and 18 years old.)

heartstopper cast nick and charlie
Courtesy Netflix 2022

Joe added that another major difference between the two shows is that Heartstopper hopes to show queer teens a potential path to happiness. He explained,

“I think a lot of queer people growing up feel like they don’t deserve love because they don’t have access to the same dating pool or support as straight people do. And so Heartstopper is so lovely in that it gives that to queer characters.”

Joe is also the first to admit that while the show is a positive representation of queer teens, it’s also a bit of a fantasy. Unfortunately, LGBTQ acceptance in high school is not nearly as far along as many people might think.

The actor said,

“A lot has changed in recent years but there’s still a long way to go. Difference is seen as a bad thing in a lot of schools and to other teenagers because you don’t fit in with a certain norm that’s seen to be acceptable. I know from my own experience that that makes some things a bit difficult.”

heartstopper cast season 1 nick and charlie
Courtesy Netflix 2022

Despite the difficulties that many queer teens still go through in school, Joe hopes the show will serve as a beacon of hope to anyone struggling.

“I want it to say to young queer people, You deserve to have this story. This happiness is not out of your reach. You don’t not deserve the things in a classic heterosexual love story because you happen to be queer.”

You can currently watch Heartstopper season 1 on Netflix. The streaming giant has yet to renew the show for season 2.

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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and The Challenge. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her taking an absurd amount of photos of her tuxedo cat Tom.