Almost a year after the release of “Sex Education” Netflix Australia has brought another teen drama “Heartbreak High” that may look similar to the popular series. The series is a coming-of-age drama that attempts to provide knowledge of intimacy and female empowerment. The distinctive element is the on-going cold war between Amerie and her best friend Harper, which centers the major conflict of the story. The series entertains us with humor and a few heart-touching moments, and even will keep us hooked with a bunch of precocious teenagers’ love life, intimacy, and their up-and-down character development. So, let’s see what “Heartbreak High” has in it to draw your attention.
What Does The Stairwell Map Say? Is Harper Not Friend With Amerie Anymore?
At Hartley High in Sydney, Amerie (Ayesha A. Madon) first met her best friend Harper (Asher Yasbineck) when she was five years old. In school, they were like an irreplaceable duo that was difficult to separate. As puberty hits the two, their bonds become stronger and so does their mischief. They used to have every student’s history of love affairs at their fingertips. In fact, they even made a map on the school stairwell dedicated to those affairs. With different colored pens, those names stand out, shining on the wall. But problems arise when one day that map comes into view. The principal immediately calls out to Amerie, knowing that it is her doing, as she is the one seen there. However, Amerie doesn’t want to blame Harper because she is now a whole new person who now strangely treats her best friend. She said goodbye to her long blonde hair, and now she looks a lot like ‘Eleven‘ from “Stranger Things,” but along with her appearance, her love for Amerie has vanished and been replaced by hate, which is why she beats her best friend in front of everyone.
Meanwhile, on Stairwall’s map, Dusty (Josh Heuston), the childhood crush of Amerie, is connected to her via the Gold Line. He is also seen harboring some special feelings for her, but in front of everyone, they both avoid each other. Another supporting character in the story is Darren (James Majoos), whose pronouns confuse their family and whose boyfriend at school doesn’t recognize them at all. However, we see Darren, freed from conflict, seeks closure from their creepy boyfriend, but their sweet and compassionate childhood friend, Quinni (Chloe Haydon), accompanies them through all the ups and downs. Even after seeing Amerie rejected and bullied by everyone for the map, Quinni is the one who stands by her side, even though Amerie has made an obscene reference to her physical differences. When the reckless intimate relationship of the students comes into view, the principal, Ms. Stacy Woods (Rachel House) chooses to teach students about sex education, so she assigns English teacher Jojo the responsibility (Chika Ikogwe). Although Ms. Woods does not want to educate in Jojo’s way, she rather gives some explicitly wrong information about intimacy, bringing up an SLT class. One example of this is genital crabs or warts spread by touching hands. Although she wants to teach about contraception or protection, Jojo thinks that her technique is not very effective, but what else can be done? That’s what the principal said.
Amerie, attending an evening party at the graveyard, forms a strong bond with the school’s not-so-popular kid, Malakai (Thomas Weatherall), who has just been transferred to the school. But in the middle of it all, Dusty kisses Amerie, giving thousands of butterflies to her stomach. Amerie has every reason to be happy, but she is disappointed, as her best friend, Harper, has abandoned her. Harper tries to cancel every possible interaction with her. She believes that she has UTI, so she chooses to deal with her life distinctly where she doesn’t return home, but rather spends some time with another family. In flashback scenes, a festival night comes up, where something happened that led to Harper’s disdain for Amerie. But Amerie goes crazy trying to find out what happened that night, even though her mind is now bursting with a hundred balloons due to her romantic encounter with Dusty. The school teenagers’ illegal drug activities came to a horrific end when the police chase them home from their evening party. We see Dusty helping Harper to escape, but the scene ends with the stairwell map that has already been repainted by the school authorities. It appears that someone on that map is referring to Dusty and Harper, who are supposed to be sexually involved.
Whom Does Dusty Fall In Love With? Amerie or Harper?
Our idea is further clarified when Quinni sees a map of Harper and Dusty’s physical involvement drawn under a bench in the SLT class. She discusses this with Darren, but they both want to keep the truth away from their dearest new friend, Amerie. Meanwhile, the SLT class has already become the eyesore of the school, which they all blame on Amerie. So, Amerie feels all sorts of compulsions that lead her directly to meet Ms. Woods, requesting that this class be postponed. But Ms. Woods has made it clear that she will not be discontinuing the class in any way. Although Dusty invites Amerie to his gig tonight, Dusty’s friend Spider (Spencer) refuses to give Amerie a ticket (slap band) for the party, even though Amerie doesn’t want to miss any opportunity to be close to Dusty.
We see Quinni deepen her friendship with Sasha. She musters a lot of courage to confess her feelings to Sasha, who in turn offers her a dinner date proposal, but Quinni, who has autism, becomes anxious about going out, causing Sasha to think that she is not even interested in her at all. Darren’s mother gives their father the responsibility for their child, but their father asks them to pay the rent if they wants to stay at home, which humiliates Darren, who thinks their father made this decision out of embarrassment. But this is not the case; their father is actually a novelist, suffering from financial difficulties due to a lack of reputation. Darren struggles enough with a part-time job at a restaurant, but they help their father by raising money. We understand that Darren feels connected to Douglas, a student known as Cash (Will McDonald) from the same school. Finally, accompanied by Darren, Amerie arrives at Dusty’s house where, as she doesn’t have a slap band, she has to use Malakai’s help to cross the wall, which causes her to fall straight into the swimming pool, spraining her ankle bone. After Quinni finally confronts Sasha about her autistic symptoms, Sasha understands and apologizes for her misconception.
When Amerie reaches Dusty’s room, Dusty avoids her quite a bit and leaves the room for his gig. Poor Amerie still thinks that Dusty might be the one who wants her, but before the gig performance, Dusty clears all her doubts by singing a song dedicated to Harper in front of everyone, which breaks Amerie’s heart. Just as Amerie leaves the party and walks alone on the road, Malakai comes to her side. Malakai puts ice on Amerie’s broken ankle, talks to her, and makes her feel better, but Amerie arrives home with a broken heart and destroys all of her and Harper’s old memories.
What Is Cooking Between Amerie and Malakai?
We see Cash robbing a clothing store with some of his miscreant friends, a gang led by Chook (the Leader), running for their lives from the police. Even though Cash’s grandma lives with Cash, he undertakes to transfer the bag that he stole from the store, eventually entrusting the bag to her potential crush, Darren. Although Darren’s father is quite strict about this, he strictly forbids the bag to be kept in the house, which causes Darren to return the bag to Cash. We see both of them come closer to each other.
Meanwhile, Dusty repeatedly approaches Harper and fails to speak his mind, as Harper wants to apologize to Amerie to save her image. I don’t know how strong their friendship really was, but Harper has become a completely changed person. Dusty approaches Amerie, asking for a way to impress her crush, and Amerie tells him to walk the opposite track. In fact, Harper doesn’t like to talk too much at all, but Amerie asks Dusty to do just that. But poor Amerie’s plan goes awry as Dusty seduces Harper with his hunky good looks and sweet talk. Trying to cope with the heartbreak from Dusty, Amerie makes a new decision to slap herself whenever she has thoughts of intimacy, which she hilariously does everywhere. But finally, Malakai noticed it. Most likely, Amerie begins to fall for him, or maybe it’s just a coming-of-age infatuation. Amerie’s distance from Malakai slowly decreases, and they start having “Butterfly moments” between themselves. Meanwhile, Harper confronts Amerie to apologize for her meaningless hookup with Dusty, which Amerie forgives for the sake of friendship, but Harper is still rigid in her decision not to patch up their broken friendship, leaving Amerie confused as to what could be the reason for this hatred.
How Does Harper Take Malakai Away From Her Best Friend?
Besides the SLT class, an external class is also added where the principal calls some safety officers to take the defense class. The class is divided into two parts where the girls are taught “Rack Off,” i.e., a defense activity against an assault, which is quite questionable to all the students present. Meanwhile, boys are taught the need to work out because they each know the meaning of consent and contraception, which, according to them, makes them feminist enough. However, when Harper is called to demonstrate a demo in the Rack Off class, she defends herself by shooting the officer’s hand with a lighter. Harper’s discomfort indicates that she has been assaulted in some way before, which forces her to take such action.
Amerie and Malakai’s romance reaches its peak, but Amerie doesn’t really want to turn the relationship into a commitment. When she goes to tell her friends Darren and Quinni, she finds her “keep it chill” boyfriend, Malakai, proposing to her in front of the whole school. Shocked, Amerie keeps herself calm, but in an external class, she finds out that her boyfriend talks about their intimacy with his friends. In fact, Malakai falls victim to an unintended situation where his friends bully him about his personal life. Enraged, Amerie rejects Malakai, but Malakai doesn’t give up. He arrives at Darren’s room, where Darren, Quinni, and Amerie are preparing to attend an LGBTQ gig. Things between Amerie and Malakai are sorted out. Meanwhile, Cash loses his loot bag, which he hid on the roof of the school, with Darren’s help. As a result, Cash’s gang-lord presents him with a punch that changes the color of his face. We realize that Cash can’t get away with a crime even if he wants to, so he accepts his fate.
Finally, each with their own partner, arrives at the gig, where Quinni feels uncomfortable with Sasha taking drugs with her ex-girlfriend, but Sasha melts her, proposing her love. Darren and Cash finally get involved romantically, while Malakai still doesn’t get an answer to his proposal from Amerie. Finally, when the police arrive, a cop misbehaves with Malakai beating him from the back, which is videotaped by a boy. Amerie takes the video on her phone and posts it on social media, intending to expose the cop’s misbehavior, but Malakai’s ego is hurt. He screams at Amerie and runs away, but Amerie cannot stop him. Finally, Harper and her boyfriend, Dusty, take Malakai to their room, where the three of them become drugged and intimate with each other.
Who is Diagnosed With Chlamydia?
A few days after Harper, Malaki, and Dusty become intimate, the real conflict begins. The video of Malakai’s assault by the cop spreads throughout the school, resulting in him being traumatized. Even so, his insecurities with Amerie escalate to a cliffhanger, where at the same time, Dusty begins to avoid Harper. The hesitant and traumatized Malakai cannot concentrate on any task. He is in doubt about his sexuality, and, as a result, he remains aloof even in his current relationship. But finally, the elephant gets out of the room. Activity in the SLT class catches Dusty and Malakai being intimate with Harper that day. Amerie is strangely forced to accept that Harper has taken her current boyfriend away from her as well. While almost everyone at school blames Harper, she doesn’t even feel guilty, even for Dusty avoiding her in front of everyone. She takes a massive step at the basketball game, where she announces her grief that the intimacy that has been exposed was initiated by Dusty, but he is now becoming egoistic seeing his girlfriend was having actual pleasure. But Harper doesn’t get away with that. She somehow saves her back from being completely suspended from the school. Meanwhile, Cash and Darren have been torn apart when Cash says he’s not ready to be intimate yet. Darren becomes impatient and is forced to leave him. Cash’s relationship with Darren eventually turns sour, causing them to go from lovers to each other’s only friends. But the twist in the story comes when Harper is diagnosed with Chlamydia. Harper realizes she needs to tell her former partner, Dusty, and Malakai, but cannot muster the courage to get up. Already, Quinni and Sasha’s differences and ill-matched vibes lead to their breakup. However, through all this trouble, Amerie organizes a themed party at her house, where she gets intimate with Dusty, completely ignoring Malakai. Meanwhile, Malakai tries to commit suicide but is saved by one of Missy’s friends. Harper arrives at Amerie and Dusty’s most intimate moment, but, letting Amerie escape, she closes the door and tells Dusty about her Chlamydia. It’s not out of jealousy, but she does so in order to save her best friend from the impending disease.
What Does Jojo Do With The Students? Who Defamed Her?
The next day, at school, when Amerie continues to blame her luck and Harper for that, the SLT classroom gets occupied by the police. They talk to Amerie in private, and Darren and Quinni find out the map of the class bench that says Jojo, the SLT teacher, assaulted Amerie. Ms. Woods, not standing by Jojo’s side, even forbids her from school for a few days. Amerie thinks that since Harper has lately become her worst enemy, she might make a fake call to the police about Jojo. When confronted by Amerie, Harper coldly blames it all on herself, which results in her being expelled from school. Harper may have made this decision on her own to stay out of trouble at school. Jojo returns to school but is forced to resign due to her extreme humiliation, which the principal grants. Knowing that she would lose the only good teacher in the school who wanted to guide the students in the right direction, Amerie started protesting. She unites all the schools and takes over the building by bringing out the principal and demanding that they will not come out until Jojo returns. Meanwhile, Darren continues their friendship with Cash, and Malakai goes to Missy’s country to divert his mind for a while. Amerie and Dusty come to each other when Amerie learns from Anthony that it was none other than Dusty who defamed Jojo. He clarifies that none of them wanted the SLT class to continue, so Dusty made a plan and tried to drive away Jojo by shaming her. In fact, this big truth also comes out on the night of the festival, since Harper and Amerie were separated. That night, Amerie was getting intimate with Spencer, aka Spider, but, as Harper came to her door, not even responding to her, she got Spencer out of her room. We can understand why Spencer grew hateful of Amerie since then. After learning the truth, Amerie confronts Dusty, puking her anger at him, but Dusty is forced to reveal that Harper gave her Chlamydia. Upon hearing this, Amerie runs to Harper without a second’s delay, but she is already sitting at home covered in blood, and their home is surrounded by police.
‘Heartbreak High’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Why Does Harper Begin To Hate Amerie? Do They Reconcile?
Eventually, Harper agrees to reveal the darkness to Amerie, revealing that at Summer Riot’s festival, Amerie lost her in the crowd, causing her to pass out due to an overdose. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in Cash’s gang-lord Chook’s car, realizing something bad was about to happen, but luckily since Cash was in the car, he unlocked the car door, and Harper escaped. Hiding from them, she got injured when she arrived at Amerie’s door. As Amerie spent time with Spencer, she didn’t allow Harper to enter, as she didn’t want her to be caught with him. Harper was traumatized by her bestie, so she returned to her room, where she saw her father’s alter ego. Harper’s father, drugged and brutal, refuses to even recognize his daughter. Harper was rescued by the police the next morning, after which his life took a drastic turn.
Amerie realizes how Harper’s actions justify this strange behavior toward her. She sympathizes with her best friend for what she has gone through. Harper and Amerie, erasing the memories of their fight and cheating on each other, become friends again and hang out at school as the perfect besties they used to be. But surprises await at school as well. Jojo is brought back to the SLT class, and the principal realizes her mistakes. But Amerie asks Harper to take legal action against Chook, which Harper refuses for her own safety. In Amerie’s words, she goes to the police, but even there, she is disappointed because the law system is not impartial at all. They cannot arrest him due to Chook’s power and lack of proper evidence against him. Finally, Amerie confronts Cash as she wants her friend to get the justice she deserves, so now Cash has to make the arrangements, so he tricks Chook’s friend Jayden’s phone and secretly sends the video of Chook’s car during the night of the festival to Harper’s phone, which doesn’t lack any proof for her alibi. As Chook’s face is not visible in the video, except for him, the other three, including Cash, are arrested by the police. Before Cash goes to jail, he tells Darren how much he loves them. Harper and Amerie finally, showing disgust at the present legal system, in Chook’s absence, set his car on fire, avenging their humiliation and long-lasting trauma. Harper and Amerie reunite, and now they have Quinni, Darren, and Malakai on their side.
Conclusive Criticism and Character Analysis
From the very beginning to this engaging end, with all the intimate moments and drug addiction endings, let’s talk about the pawns of the game. One has to endure Ayesha Madon’s overacting for almost 8 hours. Amerie seems to be a hot-blooded girl of a rising age who is a heavily inspired character by Devi (“Never Have I Ever“). She is very accident-prone and stubborn at the same time, but at one point, you’ll think of her as being the most logical character. Harper, on the other hand, is the most difficult character to evaluate, as she misunderstands her long-time friend and breaks up with her in seconds, even humiliates her by beating her up in front of everyone, where their small conversation in the last episode of the series clears all the misunderstandings. Harper was depressed from the beginning of her life as a result of her father’s feral behavior out of intoxication, but we still cannot consider her a forgivable character for what she did to her best friend. She takes responsibility for pulling Amerie’s loved ones away from her life, for which she is even unapologetic. Probably, it’s her burning heart and traumatized brain which might lead her in such a way. She even gets Chlamydia, though the end of the series doesn’t reveal the identity of the person from whom she received it. “Heartbreak High” Season 1 ends with a blur of everything about her. Chlamydia is a serious disease shown as a casually transmitted disease throughout the episodes, which is not at all commendable. The other teenagers’ desperate need to get laid and their lack of moral support put this series on the average list of pre-existing ‘woke’ teenage dramas, at least in our opinion. In the end, where both Amerie and Harper took responsibility to punish the bad guy, it seems quite empowering, but it also shows the poor law enforcement of our society, which is admirable as a happy ending. The end of the series doesn’t necessarily suggest whether there will be a next installment or not but if “Heartbreak High” season 2 ever comes, our advice would be to give it a shot without expecting too much.
“Heartbreak High” is a 2022 Drama Romance series streaming on Netflix.