page to screen

‘Young Mungo’ is ‘Heartstopper’ with an edge and could bring us our next favorite rising stars

On the book cover for 'Young Mungo' two young men passionately kiss
Young Mungo

As GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are On TV” report made clear, overall LGBTQ+ representation on television is decreasing, due in large part to to the major wave of cancellations in the past year, which overwhelmingly impacted queer programming.

And while that can feel bleak, the good news is that we know plenty new queer-centric stories are on the way. Among the most exciting is a television adaptation of the best-selling novel Young Mungo from gay author Douglas Stuart.

According to Deadline, indie powerhouse A24 (the studio behind the likes of Euhporia and this year’s Oscar behemoth Everything Everywhere All At Once) has optioned the book for TV. Notably, it will be their second collaboration with Stuart, as they’re already adapting his Booker Prize-winning debut Shuggie Bain for the BBC.

Set in Glasgow (where Stuart himself grew up) in the 1990s, Young Mungo is the story of a teen named Mungo, who comes to realize he has feelings for a neighbor boy named James, and the two eventually make plans to leave home together.

But before you clock it as another coming-out/coming-of-age Heartstopper redux, we should warn you that Young Mungo ultimately tells a story that is much more brutal.

For one, Mungo and James inhabit a hyper-masculine world, set during a time marked by street violence and general divisiveness. Mungo comes from a Protestant family, while James’ is Catholic—they should be sworn enemies, so even their friendship is taboo. And that’s to say nothing of the secret romance that blossoms between them.

Then there’s Mungo’s older brother, Hamish, who is a feared local gang leader, pushing his sibling to remain loyal. Their mother, Maureen, is dealing with alcoholism and demons of her own, and takes matters into her own hands when she discovers her youngest might be gay.

On the cover of 'Young Mungo,' a young man is seen floating, half submerged in water.
Image Credit: ‘Young Mungo,’ Grove Press

So, right, don’t expect romantic longing glances in the classroom, or heartwarming supportive speeches from parental figures. If anything, Young Mungo‘s harrowing perspective on the teen experience sounds more in line with Euphoria than Heartstopper.

Still, we’ve got high hopes for the series, especially since its source novel was highly acclaimed when it hit shelves last year. According to Deadline, it was named named “Best Book Of The Year” by the Washington Post, NPR, Time, and The Guardian, among others.

Considering the adaptation was just announced, it could be some time until we get to see the finished product. But we’ll be keeping a lookout for casting announcements as Young Mungo begins the pre-production process.

You never know: Heartstopper and Young Royals took relatively unknown young talent and made them into stars overnight, so maybe Young Mungo will introduce us to our next favorite rising stars!