Heartbreak High (Season 1) – Review, Recap & Ending, Explained: Heartbreak High was an Australian teen dramedy series that was quite popular in the 90s. Netflix announced a reprise of the same, except this take is a bit more robust on contemporary issues. While we have Sex Education to go gaga over, Heartbreak High too takes on issues such as sexuality and sexual abuse head-on. What Netflix gets right every time is how they have managed to be the paradigm shift in teenage shows. We can ignore Riverdale, and maybe that can be an exception. Still, Netflix has pretty much been pathbreaking when it comes to showing teens deal with mental health issues, body image issues, sexuality, drugs, abuse, and toxic parenting, to name a few.

Heartbreak High (Season 1) Recap: 

Harper and Amerie are two high schoolers in Australia who have been friends since their kindergarten days. They share everything with each other and are like sisters. The two draw up graffiti in one of the abandoned alleys inside their school. They name it ‘The Incest Wall’ and have names of everyone’s sexual escapades. There are mentions of people’s sexual preferences and even their genitalia. After a music festival night out, Harper doesn’t attend school for a week, and when she returns, she avoids Amerie and is sporting a new haircut and a new wardrobe.

Meanwhile, someone discovers ‘The Incest Wall,’ and it reaches their Principle. She puts them all on a ‘Sexual Literacy Tutorial’ after the news reaches the local news channels and even the politicians. The Principle reprimands Amerie and tells her that she knows it was her who was behind it. Amerie doesn’t mention Harper’s name and attempts to talk to her. But Harper attacks her physically, and eventually, the whole school finds out that Amerie is behind the ‘Incest Wall.’

Heartbreak High (Season 1), On Netflix: Review, Recap & Ending, Explained

She becomes a social pariah as many students discover secrets about each other; they even end up outing many students and leaking secret affairs. Dusty, a jock who Amerie has been in love with for five years, discovers about her, but it is soon revealed that it is Harper who he has hooked up with and likes her. Malakai, a new student in the High School, takes a liking to Amerie. There’s Darren, who is dealing with his parent’s divorce and his sexuality but is having an affair with another student, Cash.

Quinni is another teen who is Autistic and queer and also shamed for her eclectic choices and sex life. The students are clearly not interested in SLTs classes, as they believe they know more about sex than being taught by their liberal and woke English teacher named Jojo. To their horror, they are shown one film where a woman shares her noodles forcibly with others, thereby hinting at sexually transmitted diseases. The students are quick to label it misogynistic.

As the story proceeds, Amerie finds herself at a loss as to why Harper is avoiding her. To make matters worse, she discovers Harper has hooked up with Dusty, and the two are now officially dating. Amerie soon finds herself attracted to Malakai, who is bullied by other jocks in the gym class. To her dismay, Malakai talks about his sexual escapade with Amerie to the other boys, which enrages Amerie. On the other hand, Harper starts falling for Dusty seriously. Darren starts working at a burger joint and finds out that his father was disappointed when he didn’t turn out to be a macho-hyper masculine son and that his choice of pronouns irritates them.

While things seem to be going fine between Amerie and Malakai, one night after a rave, Harper finds herself in a threesome with Malakai and Dusty, who is now revealed to be bisexual, unbeknownst to Amerie, of course.

In a surprising turn of events, Malakai starts daydreaming about his threesome, specifically about Dusty, whilst dating Amerie. Dusty distances himself from Harper, starts flirting with Amerie and ends up in bed with her.

Harper finds out that she has Chlamydia and finds it hard to muster up the courage and come clean with Malakai and Dusty. During one of the SLT lectures, it is revealed to the class that Harper had a threesome with Malakai and Dusty, and Amerie vows never to speak to her again. In her defense, Harper says that she thought Malakai and Amerie had broken up and hence slept with him. But Amerie is in no mood to listen to her, and even slut shames her in front of everyone. Soon, it is Harper who becomes a social pariah as she stands up on the seats and announces in front of the entire school that she has a consensual threesome. It does not go down well with the Principal of Hartley High, and she threatens to suspend Harper.

One fine day, the class is shocked to see that their school has become a crime scene and the Principle and cops want to talk to Amerie. They find out that someone has written, ‘Miss Ogah (Jojo) had sex with Amerie. Jojo is fired immediately, but the students who have grown fond of the SLT lectures lock the Principal and other teachers out of the school and demand that the school reinstates Jojo. Amerie finds out that it was Dusty who has carved out about her and Jojo because he was tired of taking the SLT lectures and missing out on engaging in other things. Jojo returns as the students hold the entire school hostage. Amerie realizes that Dusty was playing on both her and Harper and that he wasn’t really interested in either of them.

Heartbreak High (Season 1) Ending, Explained

What happened to Harper during the Music Festival?

Harper goes home to find her father in a disoriented state and that he has no idea who she is. Amerie, who visits Harper, finds her covered in blood and an ambulance outside her house. She then tells her that it has happened again.

Cut to the day of the music festival, Amerie and Harper are seen enjoying themselves at the Summer Riot’s music festival; the two girls encounter Spider (another student), and Harper warns him to stay away from Amerie. The girls lose each other in the crowd, and Harper passes out due to a drug overdose. She wakes up in a car with Cash, Chook (a ganglord), and their friends. She realizes they have taken her a hostage and plan to assault her sexually. However, Cash unlocks the door, and Harper escapes from them. She soon returns to meet Amerie, who is having a good time with Spencer, and she sends her away in a drunken state. Harper returns home and finds her father in a disoriented state, refusing to recognize her. She is rescued by the cops, temporarily placing her in foster care. This incident leaves a mark on Harper, who decides that she doesn’t want Amerie in her life, who she thinks is childish and juvenile.

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Sex Education (Season 3): Recap & Ending Explained

As Harper finishes narrating this incident to Amerie, Amerie realizes how much her actions hurt Harper and how she couldn’t be there for her friend when she needed her the most. Amerie, Harper, and Amerie’s mother go to the police station to file a report. The female cop intimidates Harper and Harper walks off without naming the boys who tried to assault her. However, Amerie picks up a fight with Cash, who says he did what he had to do for money and that Chook is a really powerful person to mess with. Chook doesn’t end up in jail as the cops are unable to find his face on the footage that they extracted from the night of Harper’s kidnapping. Cash, who has a grandmother who has accepted his relationship with Darren and is clearly in love with Darren, wants to mend his ways.

Amerie and Harper burn Chook’s cars and smash the windows as the ultimate revenge. The finale ends with Amerie, Harper, Darren, Quinni, and Malakai going for a swim together.

Heartbreak High (Season 1) Review: 

While we agree that Heartbreak High is no Sex Education, but some of the storylines, especially regarding drug abuse and casual sex, are carved out with a lot of sensitivity and nuance. The characters in the show are fleshed out, and every character, even the ones with the grey shades, has a backstory of how they get to be the way they are. We witness a lot of teenage angst on the screen from the characters, as they all are dealing with real issues. From being thrown to the wolves to being accountable for their actions, in 8 episodes, we see some of the characters grow up. While the episodes are almost 50+ minutes long, which can be a buzzkill for those looking for a shorter series. This series is bound to stay with you for a long time.

Will there be a Heartbreak High Season 2?

The idea of the ‘Incest Wall’ is quite reminiscent of the 90s teen movies and shows, where secret affairs and romances of people were expressed via diary notes or wall graffiti. The central mystery in the series, related to Harper’s traumatic night, is dealt with by the end of episode 1, and some other characters get their ending. It leaves minimal scope for another season.

Heartbreak High Season 1 | Official Trailer | Netflix

Heartbreak High Season 1 External Links: IMDb
Ayesha Madon, James Majoos, Chloe Hayden, Asher Yasbincek
Where to watch Heartbreak High

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