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The Importance of Hugs in ‘Heartstopper’

Charlie and Nick hugging in Heartstopper
©Netflix

There’s a myriad to adore when it comes to Netflix’s Heartstopper and the budding relationships, but it’s how this series underscores the importance of hugging that’s worth screaming on roofs for. I was taken aback by the tenderness when it first happens, and then each moment afterward continues to be a gift that keeps on giving for the characters and viewers alike. 

When it comes to the romance genre or any relationship interwoven into the narrative, we don’t talk about the significance of hugs nearly enough. There’s something indescribably tender and warm about holding someone, no matter the occasion or the reason. For Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring, six various hugs showcase the progression in their relationship while openly revealing how healing each of these moments are. And they aren’t the only ones either because this show is full of huggers, which makes the connections much more evocative in the warmth they consistently exude.

The first time Charlie and Nick hug in Heartstopper, Nick initiates it after vocalizing aloud how cuddly Charlie looks at the moment. (He’s not wrong, either.) But there’s something about the way both Joe Locke and Kit Connor touch on the novelty of their closeness, coupling the comfort they feel with a sense of surprise and ease. Nick didn’t expect to thrust forward into Charlie’s arms, and in the same way, Charlie didn’t think he’d have the opportunity to hold his crush for more than a few seconds. And sure, friends can hug for an extended period too, but everything changes for Charlie here as he realizes that this could mean far more because Nick’s likely never hugged another person, a boy, especially with this much vehemence. It’s in that quiet moment where we can see how healing the hug is for the two of them and why they gravitate towards embracing even while they aren’t entirely sure where they stand.

©Netflix

A good hug, specifically in a moment of vulnerability, could be indescribable. Whether it’s between friends or people who’d like to be more, there are so few ways to describe the magic that comes to pass in those quiet beats. It’s why their second hug after Nick vocalizes his uncertainties hits like a gut punch while simultaneously adding a bandaging layer we know we’ll heal from. Despite the sadness that lingers in the air, the audience is right back at the crux of their attachment, watching two boys showcase without words how inexplicably safe they feel around each other. Charlie quietly initiates holding Nick, followed by Nick going in for a second round, thus revealing the intensity of their compassion through a gesture that tells us that they’re desperately trying to keep these moments going.

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Through each hug, Charlie and Nick give pieces of themselves to the other, slowly and quietly shedding the parts of themselves they might be afraid of or doubt. With every tug, they pass on strength; with every clutch, they take what the other gives them. Every time they get closer, they continue to cement their burgeoning adoration and unyielding needs, openly promising one another that their arms can be a permanent kind of home. There’s also an innocence to the hugs that looks into one of the most tender ways human beings could reassure one another of their adoration. Thereby, this second embrace tells us that without a shadow of a doubt, no matter what happens, they’re going to be okay.

We rightfully scream about first kisses frequently, but we don’t spend sufficient time excavating how every embrace captivates in unspeakable ways. In the romance genre, these quiet moments often lead to the most revealing pieces of a love story because they show us how people operate and what they need to feel adored. Charlie and Nick are huggers, and in their desires to consistently embrace, we watch the unfolding moments of young love through an incredibly natural pathway. Many of us grew up with TV shows like One Tree Hill that jumped straight into first kisses, but Heartstopper showing us all the quiet, more tender beats resonates much more deeply because it highlights the importance of a different kind of intimacy. It allows viewers to reflect that hugs are just as crucial as kisses and that there’s tremendous healing uncovered in an embrace between two people who care for each other.

Heartstopper knows how to tug where it matters with a development that’s both slow and somehow still perfectly paced. There’s a beautiful love story here, and much of it can be seen in every gaze, every hand lingering by another’s, and every hug. The connection between Charlie and Nick is palpable from the first moment we see them interact, and every scene after that improves upon it all beautifully. Whether their first hug at Charlie’s house or their last one of the season at the beach, the two boys authenticate the innate, indescribable warmth that promises protection. Intimacy is critical in all its forms when it comes to a love story, and the show highlighting it this keenly deserves admiration.

Heartstopper is now streaming on Netflix. Which of Charlie and Nick’s hugs is your favorite? Is it even possible to choose? Let us know in the comments below.

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Gissane Sophia View All

Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.

She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.

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