Why Netflix’s adaptation of Heartstopper Season One removed Aled and added Imogen and Isaac even though they are not in the original books.
Warning: this article contains spoilers for Heart stroke season 1.
Heart stroke season 1 makes some subtle plot changes to the original comic, including the addition of two characters not from the books or comics. Netflix’s new queer coming-of-age show is based on the hit webcomic of the same name by Alice Oseman, with Doctor Who and Torchwood director Euros Lyn appearing as director during the whole course of Heart stroke season 1. Overall, Heart stroke was very faithful to the original content, following the plot of the webtoon comic, however, some changes were made to further push the storytelling suitable for the Netflix adaptation.
Heart stroke follows British schoolboys Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) and Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) as they explore their sexuality and develop a relationship with each other; with help and hindrance from their close friends and the teachers at Truham Grammar School for Boys. While the writing and filming of the series follows the plot of the comics incredibly well, there have been subtle changes and minor differences in the adaptation that those who have read the comics can spot. One of the main differences within the Netflix adaptation is the absence and addition of certain characters.
One of the biggest differences between the adaptation of the Netflix show and the comic book series is the removal of Aled and the addition of Isaac (Tobie Donovan) and Imogen (Rhea Norwood). In the webtoon series, Aled is one of Charlie’s closest friends. Alice Oseman said on Twitter that Aled isn’t on the show, it’s because he”would certainly involve having to change major elements of the history of Radio Silenceanother of Oseman’s stories. However, in Aled’s place is Isaac, the fourth member of Charlie’s group of friends, who was apparently added to balance the Heart stroke season 1 hunted. Similarly, Imogen’s role in the Netflix adaptation serves to add additional drama to the plot, making the show slightly different from its illustrated predecessor.
Isaac is an introverted and quick-witted friend of Charlie Spring who, though quiet, surprises the audience with insightful and pointed comments towards the group. What makes Isaac such a great addition to the friendship band and adaptation of the Netflix show is that he balances out the characters and adds a new dimension of personality that wouldn’t have been there if Isaac had not been included. Tao (William Gao) is the most confident and extravagant member of the group, and Elle (Yasmin Finney) is the level-headed friend who gives the best advice. Adding someone from the opposite side of the personality spectrum to balance the personalities of Tao and Elle, while being a protective and loyal friend to Charlie, Isaac was a perfect and needed additional character.
Imogen, who is also a brand new character for Heart stroke season 1, becomes the vital conflict in Charlie and Nick’s relationship in the Netflix show adaptation. Imogen is a very bold and determined personality, but can be a bit insensitive at times, and this personality trait is what causes conflict for Nick. Imogen and Nick are great friends, but when Imogen begins to develop a serious crush, Nick begins to feel uncomfortable and questions his sexuality, which further develops apprehension around Charlie and Nick’s relationship. . In an interview with HELLO! MagazineOseman said: “I chose Imogen because I wanted Nick to have a friend who wasn’t one of the guys. We knew we needed a little more drama and angst in the story and Imogen is the one bringing the drama mid-season.”. Although short, Imogen has a great character arc in Season 1, understanding why Nick rejects her, accepting Nick for who he really is, and standing up for him when his friends upset him. Yes Heart stroke season 2 is ordered, Imogen will no doubt be a great character to explore further.
The addition and removal of characters in the first season of Heart stroke are not the only differences between webtoon comic and Netflix comic book tv show, but they may be the most significant. Isaac and Imogen fit perfectly into the story of Heart strokecreating conflict for the main characters while simultaneously balancing the strongest personalities to create perfect stability for the series, and poses character development for potential Heart stroke season 2.
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