It’s me, hi, the person obsessed with media for teenagers. One day, I’ll psychoanalyse myself and discover why this is, but for now, I’m reaching out to my like-minded people.
I’m here to tell you exactly why you should watch Heartbreak High on Netflix.
This Australian show has taken social media by a storm, and built a fanbase across the world. It covers all the usual goodies of a show for teenagers (heartbreak, sex, friendship, parties and detention) while being so much more. Heartbreak High is the show that I wish I had as a teenager, and I know that I would’ve loved it as much then as I do now.
Fair warning, it’s very Gen Z. People are described as having “pick me energy”, and everyone is far more woke than when I was in high school. But this isn’t a bad thing, this is a chance for us to get a sneak peek into the culture of today. I’m glad things have changed.
So here are all the reasons you should watch Heartbreak High, including representation, amazing outfits, hilarious slang and accurate sex scenes. Let’s get started.
Image created by author using Netflix promotional image.
I had to put this in the top position. I really didn’t have a choice. And once you watch Heartbreak High, I have no doubt that you’ll agree with me. The Australian slang is the true start of the show, the top of the call sheet. I want an Emmy nomination just for the slang of the show.
Given that the show is about Australian teenagers, it makes sense that their vocab would differ a little, but the extent to which it does is incredible. If anyone reading this is Australian, can you confirm whether people really say things like this?
It’s the insults that get me the most. It makes me realise how uncreative we are with insults in British English. Australians use the most vivid imagery and metaphors to correctly tear someone down.
Enough foreplay, here are some examples of the Australian slang that makes this show knee-slappingly hilarious:
You can find more of these Shakespearean terms and their translation here.
From the hilarious to a little more serious, it’s important to address the incredible representation present in this show. We’ve been working towards better representation in the media, and these efforts are encapsulated perfectly in Heartbreak High.
Firstly in LGBTQIA+ representation, as there are non-binary characters, queer characters and asexuality. Yet their storylines and romances are not focused on this fact. It’s not just coming out stories, but rather them living their life as everyone else, being loved and loving in return. In particular, I found the portrayal of asexuality fascinating, and many in the community applauded the accurate representation of it.
Many are also impressed with the character of Quinni who has autism. Quinni was played by Chloe Hayden, who is autistic herself and helped greatly in building the character to be realistic. She is a chance for us to see one of many, many faces of autism. A notable moment is when she tells someone she is autistic, and they respond by saying she doesn’t seem it, referencing how limited the view of autism is. What I loved most about Quinni is that it gave viewers the chance to see how people can correctly and incorrectly support someone with autism. Her friendship with Darren showed how someone can help their neurodivergent friend, while her relationship with someone else showed how people quickly feel inconvenienced by it. But Quinni’s neurodivergence wasn’t her only storyline, as we also got to see her as a fully-rounded character.
Finally, there was representation in terms of race. There were many non-Caucasian characters, and it showed the diversity of Australian culture. I found it particularly interesting to learn about the racism towards First Nation individuals and how this differed from other people of colour.
The costume designer and make-up artists definitely understood their assignment. This was one of the most colourful shows I have ever seen, and so much character was expressed through how they dressed. Was it realistic for teenagers to be going to school like this? Most certainly not. Did I love it nonetheless? You bet!
It may be the Clueless of this generation. There were a lot of 90s references, as a homage to the original series. Each character was dressed so differently, and in the case of Harper, it was an outward expression of her journey of identity.
Check out the best outfits from Heartbreak High.
At its core, Heartbreak High is a show about friendship. That might be surprising given the name and number hook up scenes throughout, but I stand by this claim.
The core of the show is the dissolution of Harper and Amerie’s friendship. It drives the entire plot and is a focus throughout each episode. I love this because it’s vital to acknowledge how painful a friendship breakup is. We never discuss this as much, and yet I remember fights with friends in high school far more than relationships. At that age, your friends are your entire world, and it made me empathise so much with those characters.
As mentioned previously, Darren and Quinni’s friendship shows us how to correctly support your neurodivergent friend. Darren sends Amerie away when Quinni needs help, they also go to Quinni’s house when she had a meltdown, and they’re always rooting for her. When Quinni asks Darren if she is “Too much?”, Darren responds that she isn’t too much for them. They are each other’s constant support, and that’s never threatened by their romantic relationships.
Even characters in times of trouble find solace in their friendships, not their relationships. Harper can’t fix her pain through a newfound romance, and Malakai can’t run from his hurt either. It’s through friendship that they are both ultimately helped.
I think this focus makes this show vital for teenagers, and people of any age. It’s too easy to forget that friendship is a driving force in our lives.
But as mentioned, there are a few sexy scenes throughout the show, and I love how accurately awkward they are. As a teenager, I watched the steamy scenes in Gossip Girl or The Vampire Diaries, and it set me up to be disappointed when I started having sex. We only heard of sex as being completely amazing or painful, there was nothing in between those extremes.
Watching sex scenes on film, it always frustrated me that they’d for nothing to everything. I mean, I didn’t need to see the foreplay in detail, but it was always clothes off and immediate penetration. It set up unrealistic standards as much as porn does.
But in Heartbreak High, we get to see those awkward in-between moments. We see female characters telling their partner how actually to finger them. We see a male character unable to stay hard as he’s been drinking a lot. We see sex start out awkward and uncomfortable but then they find their own rhythm.
These moments are so important as they show the truth of sex. They can feel a little painful to watch, I’ll admit, but we need to know that they exist.
Everyone I forced to watch this show ended up finishing it within a maximum of two nights. Partly because of how enjoyable it was, and partly because they were desperate to find out what had happened between Amerie and Harper. This question is a running theme throughout, as we’re slowly given more and more of the puzzle pieces.
The writers managed to pique our curiosity perfectly, as by the finale you’re desperate to know what happened. Everyone had their own theories, and I didn’t see a single person get it right.
Despite the fact that these characters don’t look like teenagers, wear the most incredible outfits and have rampaging sex lives, I feel like I can relate to them. Not just when I was a teenager, but now in my twenties.
There’s the beautiful awkwardness that makes up this time of your life. There’s saying the wrong thing, over and over, and then complaining to your friends about it. There’s being obsessed with other people’s sex lives when you don’t have one yourself yet.
In episode 1, we see Amerie cut her own bangs in an attempt to reinvent herself. Don’t lie, we’ve all desperately hit the internet in a midnight bout of angst. I tried to cut my bangs on the morning of my twenty-first birthday, and I have too many photos to remind myself of it.
Another moment of relatability is the fake feminist bro, Dusty. We’ve all had some guy trying to out-feminist us and turning out to be the biggest misogynist of them all.
The list could go on, but I’m cautious of not spoiling too much! So if you really want to know why you should watch Heartbreak High, go find out for yourself. It’s available on Netflix and consists of eight episodes of about fifty minutes each. Heartbreak High has been renewed for a second season, so get up-to-date before that comes out!
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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