Netflix’s Tore Is the Ideal Companion to Heartstopper

Netflix’s grim and cynical LGBTQ+ Swedish import, Tore, pairs nicely with the sunshine and rainbows of Heartstopper.

TORE. William Spetz as Tore in TORE.
Photo: Netflix

This article contains spoilers for Tore season 1.

When it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, just seeing queer people on a TV screen is no longer sufficient for young people who are looking for answers. The way different shows depict the non-straight experience feels more vital than it did even 10 years ago due to an influx of streaming options and the variety of places and people the shows originate from. In the past, it often felt like LGBTQ+ characters received demeaning story arcs, such as being resigned to the villain role or being abruptly killed off in genres such as horror or crime dramas. This created a yearning for a delineated utopia of gay life, and Netflix’s Heartstopper thoroughly fulfilled that prototype. 

The adaptation of Alice Osman’s graphic novels is a sugar rush, a righting of all the wrongs queer people have undergone both through media and in the real world. And while the show broke viewership records in its first two seasons for LGBTQ+ programming, the romanticizing of homoerotic teenage fervor might never come to fruition off the screen. Gay folks sometimes feel dejected watching a fantastical imagining of queer life, instead hungering for a show that gets gruff and edgy with the debilitating materialities of being part of the community. 

Netflix’s newest Swedish import, Tore, defects from the candy-coated planet of soft “hi’s” and pastel animations in Heartstopper, engaging in a grim, tragic, and sometimes darkly comedic look at a gay man who doesn’t get a happily ever after. Created by and starring a relatively unknown William Spetz, Tore is a one-man ensemble, a character study with an unflinching desire to peel back every layer on a 27-year-old gay man who has experienced very little excitement in his quarter-century of life. 


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