Heartstopper | Webtoon vs. Netflix
Webtoon (⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2) vs. Netflix (⭐⭐⭐1/2)
Boy meets boy in this heartwarming love story full of LGBTQ+ representation.
With the drop of the Netflix adaptation of this webtoon by Alice Oseman, I thought I would use this opportunity to not only reread this but also compare how well the adaptation stands up. If you want to know my thoughts on Vol.1-3 of the series, you can fine my review for it here.
I will first go over my overall impression of the series. I think the adaptation did a good job, for the most part, at capturing what made the Webtoon so special, but it does fall a bit short for me for a few reasons. Some choices were made that diverged from the source material that I did not like and I thought that not only did they only serve to infuse unnecessary drama into the story, but it ruined a very important message the story depicted.
In terms of the casting, I give my standing ovations to Kit Connor as Nick and William Gao as Tao. Their portrayals were absolutely bang on and they perfectly captured the characters. I wasn't the biggest fan of Joe Locke's portrayal of Charlie though as his performance felt a bit stilted to me. Bonus points are awarded though for casting Yasmin Finney, who is trans herself, as Elle.
Now, as this is a comparison, I am going to be going into spoilers past this point. If you have not read the webtoon or watched the show, do not read past this point as there will be spoilers. This will also just be bullet points comments about what I thought about each episode.
As the first episode, it did a good job taking frames shot for shot from the Webtoon, and they used the same lines of dialogue as well
The show added an extra scene where Ben confronted Charlie before Nick asked Charlie to join the rugby team
While the show did add some extra scenes, you still do get more interactions between Nick and Charlie in the Webtoon
We also have an addition of a new character in the show, the art teacher, who helped Charlie with his bullying and who Charlie goes to get away
I do like how they added little CGI elements that sometimes looked odd and out of place, but worked really well to show Charlie's internal state
One thing webcomics have over other media is that they give you specific contents warnings before the chapter, which Netflix kind of does if you pay attention
With the webtoon as well you can exaggerate emotions a bit to make them more impactful and obvious, while with a live-action it is all on the actor to make it look believable
I love the addition of Olivia Coleman as Nick's mom, it was unexpected but perfect
Things were changed a bit in this episode, with it actually showing how Ben and Charlie got together instead of Charlie telling Nick over text
What was also changed was Ben and Nick's friendship, as in the show they were friends until he met Charlie, but in the Webtoon Nick knew Ben wasn't a good guy
Another change was that you get a bit of Elle's perspective as well as she gets used to her new school
Tori is spot on, I would love to have more of her in this
The show also mixed the timeline around a bit by putting things that should have happened earlier to later
The show did end up toning down any confrontation scene by getting rid of any swearing and I don't think I liked that because I liked how Nick really laid it on Harry for being homophobic
I also have found that, while the actor did a great job, Tao is annoying me a lot more in the show compared to the Webtoon because of his attitude
One addition I did like was when, at the party, Nick stood there smiling because Tara and Darcy were being open and happy
Really awkward dancing scene at the party though...
I haven't made a comment about this yet, but I thought that Nick's actor did a fantastic job at showing Nick's vulnerability and confusion about what he is going through
We get to the kiss scene and there was some real shaky camera work which sucked
From this episode on though we do see how the adaptation chose to dramatize things which I did not like
In the Webtoon, when Nick confronted Harry he ended up backing out by saying he was having a bad day and all was forgiven and while I get he was conflicted, what Harry was doing was not okay
You get a sense of how the adaptation messed with the timeline a bit when Charlie's mom acts all casual with Nick but, unlike the Webtoon, they didn't actually show Nick meeting his family beforehand
It also completely skipped over the discussion between Nick and Charlie about their sexualities, which was a really important discussion to have now rather than later
For some reason, the adaptation changed Aled's name to Isaac and just had him in the background already when he wasn't introduced yet in the Webtoon
The show also, for some reason, decided to add more drama with Imogen wanting to date Nick which was not in the Webtoon
At the rugby game too, when Charlie ends up getting hurt Nick just stands there instead of immediately going to help him
They changed the day of Charlie's birthday so that it coincided with Nick's 'date' with Imogen
Sorry in advance if Tao says anything rude to you...that is not a good sign my friend
Not much really happened in this episode besides Nick coming clean about Imogen
Now we get Nick looking up what being bisexual entails, which should have happened probably before he started dating Charlie as it did in the Webtoon
Rather than being late, Elle admitted that she likes Tao in this episode which does not happen for a while in the Webtoon
We also get the delayed sexuality talk between Charlie and Nick in this episode
Not much else happens in this one besides Nick slowly getting used to the idea of possibly being bi and also telling other people they are together
Now we are back on track with them going to the movies together
For some reason, the show added in an unnecessary scene where Ben shows up at the movies to insult Charlie
The show also lets things stew a bit to increase the drama which does end up ruining the whole 'healthy communication' thing the Webtoon had going for it
It also added in an 'oh all this is happening because of me so let's break up'
We have arrived at the final episode for the season, assuming that Netflix doesn't cancel the show before season 2
We've got Tao ignoring Charlie and Charlie ignoring Nick, joy
Nick is now more comfortable with his sexuality and his relationship with Charlie and he feels ready to come out
It ends with Nick talking to his mom, who is nothing but supportive