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A Heart-Stopping Season Two

(TW: Article contains mentions of eating disorders and self-harm.)

The critically acclaimed and beloved Netflix show Heartstopper returned on August 3rd for its second season, and you can bet that I watched the entire thing in one sitting the day it came out. The series, based on the beloved graphic novel by Alice Oseman that goes by the same name, centers around teens Nick, Charlie and their friendship group as they navigate relationships, mental health, bullies, and love. While season one is very much a “figuring out who you are” story and learning to accept yourself, season two delved far more into the whole idea of having to “come out” as a queer person, addressing mental health much more head-on, and how having a good support system can be vital to one’s identity.


In this season, Charlie stands up for himself against small-minded people and Nick reiterates the fact that he is bisexual a multitude of times as people try to gloss over that detail. Bi-erasure is not tolerated and the two boys become more confident in their relationship as the episodes progress. The relentless homophobia from Nick’s brother, David, and constant harassment from fellow student, Ben, are not tolerated as they are swiftly put in their place multiple times, whether it be from Tori (Charlie’s sister), Sarah Nelson (Nick’s mom), or Nick and Charlie themselves. Each time these two character’s remarks are shot down, it is more satisfying than the last. Nick stands his ground as an absent father is addressed and Charlie becomes more vulnerable than ever due to his struggles with mental health. All in all, this chapter of Heartstopper definitely covers a lot more than the last but it does so in a phenomenal manner.

As the season begins, we’re welcomed back into the world of Heartstopper with a montage of quite a lot of kissing between Nick and Charlie. It almost feels like you’re watching something that should be private between the two which just goes to show how incredible the chemistry is between actors Joe Locke (Charlie) and Kit Connor (Nick). The honeymoon phase is definitely in full effect with the kick-off of the season and, honestly, it’s pretty adorable to watch the two be so comfortable with each other now after the cute awkwardness of season one.

This season is definitely more of an intimate one than the first, whether you want to define that as more making out or more heart-to-heart talks. Nick and Charlie are learning to trust each other and that is portrayed through the serious and quiet discussions they have. One quieter plotline is Nick’s anxiety, especially with coming out to others. He’s scared that he won’t be able to keep his promises and that he is going to let everyone down, nervous that he is going to fail his GCSE’s (General Certificate of Secondary Education), and terrified by the fact that he may hurt Charlie by keeping their relationship a secret. And yet, Charlie instead is gentle with him, caring for him and showing that he understands what he’s going through. He stands up for Nick and comforts him every step of the way, only wanting to be there for him and nothing more. It’s a subtle but brilliant way to touch on panic attacks, how they can be detrimental in some cases, and how just having that one person there to pull you out of it can make the world of a difference.

One of the bigger plot points is Charlie’s struggle with food. Slightly sprinkled throughout season one, it is much more evident in this chapter, especially in episode 5 when the group visits The Louvre. Charlie passes out due to lack of eating and awakes to a concerned Nick and friends. Later, when he is sat down, he explains to Nick that it is something he feels he can control and apologizes to him, folding in on himself a bit. Subsequently, Nick reassures him that there is no reason to apologize; he “wants to understand” and be there for Charlie. He offers Charlie a croissant he had saved him from that morning, they have a little laugh over how stale it is, and they slowly get back into the groove of things on their school visit to Paris. But, Charlie’s lack of eating is much more prevalent in the rest of the season now that Nick is hyperaware of it. He truly cares for Charlie and wants to make sure that he is okay. Heartstopper presents this battle with food in such an important light: it is not glorified, nor made a joke of, which tends to occur in media frequently.

One of my favorite parts of this season lives in the very last moments of the final episode. It’s a quiet scene between Nick and Charlie but a meaningful one. It takes place after prom, what you would think is quite literally a perfect day, especially for Charlie, who has always dreamed of getting to be “out” with his boyfriend. But, for Nick, there’s still this nagging voice in his head that’s worried for Charlie, mainly since he doesn’t know just how bad the bullying was when Charlie first came out. So, Nick pushes slightly for Charlie to open up about what happened, and when Charlie starts to go quiet, Nick moves from his bed to his floor to sit with him. He reassures him that he “doesn’t have to be perfect” around him and gives him all of his attention. Feeling safe, Charlie finally opens up about what occurred for the first time. He tells Nick how people would call him disgusting to his face, how he couldn’t fathom the terrible homophobia in this day and age, and how much he started to believe what others would say about him. It’s heartbreaking, especially when Charlie reveals that he used to cut himself. Charlie even apologizes again, telling Nick that he doesn’t want him to see him as this “fragile and broken mess that needs to be fixed”. But, Nick is right there, ready to let him know that he is not a burden, he has no reason to apologize, and he wants to hear about all of these thoughts and feelings. He even lets Charlie know that he’s been scared to do certain things recently, but it hasn't been so frightening since he’s had Charlie by his side. They both make promises to each other, with Nick saying he will always be there for Charlie and Charlie promising to tell Nick if he ever feels this way again. It’s an emotional moment to leave the season on but a very heartfelt one at that. As author Alice Oseman stated, this was not originally in the graphic novels but something that was added for the show. This tiny bit conveys how important it can be just to talk about something rather than keeping it balled up inside of you and I, personally, am incredibly thankful that it was put into the series. It sheds light on what a positive queer relationship can look like, something that is not shown very often in media.

One of the best things about Heartstopper, besides the positive queer exposure, is that it doesn’t forget that there are other characters in the story, giving them room to grow as well. We see Tao and Elle’s relationship bloom, the romance finally taking firm root in the second half of the season. But, we also see Tao’s insecurities bubble to the surface and Elle’s desire to be somewhere where she can fully express herself arises. We experience Isaac’s navigation through his sexuality, his confusion and pain when he isn’t able to have “crushes” or feel romance like his friends do, and his euphoria when he discovers what aromance and asexuality are. We watch as Tara frets over, having said “I love you” to Darcy, especially since the three words are not reciprocated. We then learn Darcy’s side of the story, her homophobic mother, how she has to be someone else at home, and why she couldn’t say those words back to Tara immediately. We learn that this friendship group is her true family and her only real support system. We witness Imogen standing up to Ben and realizing that she wants to focus on herself after his poor treatment of her. Plus, we get an adult relationship between the two teacher chaperones for the Paris trip, Mr. Ajayi and Mr. Farouk. Including these two can be quite cathartic for those who missed out on being out of the closet in their teenage years. For a show that only has 8 episodes per season, they manage to put so much love and heart into each character without ever seeming too crammed or rushed.

Having been a fan of the graphic novels since 2018, this series, the topics they address, and the representation in it mean so much to me. The fact that the adaptation is so incredibly faithful to the source (thank you, Alice Oseman!) makes my heart BURST with joy since everything mentioned in the novels is so important and deserves to make it onto the screen. While characters like Oliver and Aled are deeply missed, the addition of new individuals, like Imogen in last season and Felix and Naomi in this season, is brilliantly done. Not only that but additions to the story itself are always implemented in the most exceptional ways, expanding upon the narratives originally written in the graphic novels. This season especially has done that spectacularly: showing the date between Tao and Elle, Darcy’s backstory, more discussions between Nick and Charlie, and, of course, prom! I could discuss this series and, more specifically, the implications of season two for hours on end. This show, these characters, mean a significant amount to many, especially those in the queer community, and season two has only solidified its standing as one of the most fantastic LGBTQIA+ and/or coming-of-age shows in quite a while. Heartstopper truly has something for everyone, and I cannot wait to see how the next parts of this story are tackled in the upcoming season three.

Heartstopper Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix! Check it out!

Written by Ashley Lavalle

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