Why did an animated LGBTQ+ love story break the internet

A month ago, Ringling School of Art and Design students Beth David and Esteban Bravo released their animated thesis film, “In a Heartbeat” and literally broke the internet.

This 4-minute short is the heartwarming story of a middle-school boy (Sherwin) falling in love (probably for the first time) with his handsome classmate (Jonathan).

When Sherwin sees Jonathan in the school yard, his heart literally jumps out of his chest and starts following Jonathan, completely outing Sherwin.

Surprising everyone, and especially its creators, the video has more than 28 million hits on the YouTube as we speak. It trended on Tumblr for days, leading way to a huge load of fan-art. The film and its unexpected success have been covered on nearly every major news site, and interviews with Beth and Esteban have already been published in The Guardian and The New York Times.

But why was it so successful? What makes it unique among hundreds of other student movies flooding the internet?

The Dot And Line writer Cara McKeown has a few explanations:

1- It’s a beautifully told story

It’s a great movie that audience can connect with the story. It has great 3D animation, little to no dialogue, a moving score and a sweet and personal message.

2- Sherwin’s “sidekick” is adorable

“In animation, the sidekick is typically a small animal or mythical creature, but in Sherwin’s case, it’s his very own (adorable) heart. When Sherwin’s heart squeals, your heart squeals. When Sherwin’s heart breaks, your heart most definitely breaks (and you maybe cry a little too.)” McKeown explains.

3- Kickstarter helped it out

Beth and Esteban crowd-funded almost $15,000 (more than four times what they initially sought to raise) for their movie. But why? Please see #5

4- It tells a defiantly optimistic LGBTQ+ love story

Representation matters. “LGBTQ+ roles are severely underrepresented in entertainment and especially in animation—especially love stories,” McKeown says. And if we are to infer a little how this one was received, people really want to see stuff like this.

If you’re interested in the rest of Cara McKeown’s comments, please visit The Dot and Line.