Season 2 of Heartstopper is finally here! Returning as the main characters are Joe Locke, who will be making his MCU debut in Agatha: Coven of Chaos, as Charlie Spring, and Kit Conner as Nick Nelson. While last season covered their budding romance in volumes 1-2 of the graphic novel by Alice Oseman, this season covers their established relationship in volume 3. Will this season be as entertaining as the last? Let’s find out.
More romance to come in Heartstopper season 2
If there’s one thing Heartstopper is known for, it’s fluff. The first season made a name for itself by being a romantic and wholesome queer show. This new season has that in heaps. If you tuned into season 1 for some heartwarming teen romance, you won’t be disappointed. Charlie and Nick are properly dating now and are very much head-over-heels. They send each other good morning texts, kiss in school closets, and exude the giddy young love energy from last season times ten.
The show’s other couples are equally adorable. Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell) continue to be a solid side pairing with plenty of moments of their own. Elle (Yasmin Finney) and Tao (William Gao), after plenty of romantic mix-ups that made me have to look away from the screen, finally get their own first kiss.
The build-up for the teacher’s love story in the graphic novels has finally begun. There’s even a surprise hint at another couple that didn’t make an appearance in the comics, which sparks exciting possible changes to the story’s existing character arcs. Imogen (Rhea Norwood), one of the token heterosexual characters of the comic, is in one scene implied to be developing feelings for her friend Sahar (Leila Khan).
It truly is queer romance all the way down, with all the classic hallmarks of a fun, self-indulgent romcom. The show embraces plenty of classic feel-good romance tropes, from prom to trips to Paris. It’s the good kind of cheesy, meant to make you smile.
Trouble arises for Charlie and friends
Despite the usual fluff, this season is not afraid to dig into the heart of much more serious topics. The second season begins with Nick’s struggle to come out, and his fears are mirrored by the people around him.
The group of friends deal with homophobia in a very real way, usually from their families. Darcy’s struggle with saying ‘I love you’ back to Tara is revealed to be tied to her unsupportive family. This culminates in Darcy’s mother kicking her out of the house after she refuses to take off her prom suit because it makes her look like a lesbian. She spends the night sleeping on a park bench.
Rather than being a wholesome queer escape, the cast is put into real danger due to their identities. Mental health issues are not off the table either. Charlie’s experience being bullied in season 1 has left him with a fair amount of self-hatred. This ends up expressing itself as an eating disorder in an attempt to get back some control. The show isn’t afraid to tap into queer trauma in a way that can deeply resonate with its audience. It’s not just escapism, it’s a reflection of real-world experiences.
However, the heartwarming nature of the show perseveres in the comfort the characters give each other. While other shows might find their drama in miscommunication tropes, Heartstopper actively embraces their characters talking their issues out at every turn. The relationships in the show, be it friendship or romance, are built on mutual support. It’s refreshing to see standard romance cliches, like running into an ex, be shown as an opportunity for the characters to understand each other better rather than an excuse for them to fight.
The good and the bad of Heartstopper season 2
Unfortunately, the things that make Heartstopper charming are often also its pitfalls. The supportive, feel-good atmosphere can be both reassuring and turn the show into a bit of a PSA rather than a piece of entertainment. Heartstopper carries the weight of being what many people consider “good LGBT representation” on its shoulders, a responsibility that the show clearly takes seriously for better or for worse.
It feels as though the show is constantly turning to the audience and assuring us that it’s alright. It’s okay to feel these things, it’s alright to be queer, it’s alright to be scared of coming out. While this is sometimes a very touching message to viewers, it can occasionally feel like you’re watching an educational video rather than being immersed in the lives of the characters. The characters become stand-ins for you-the-person-watching-this-who-might-also-be-going-through-this-right-now.
This season walks a fine line between cathartic communication and educational sitdowns, and whether it works or not mostly depends on what the viewer is looking for in a show. Sometimes it hits home and can be a deeply emotional watch. Sometimes it feels as though the characters matter less to the writers than the message they are trying to convey to the audience.
Heartstopper season 2 crosses this line a bit more than the first season, but is still ultimately quite enjoyable. While I personally struggled a bit with immersion at a few points, the overall storyline was still relatable and touching. If a few tears were shed, that’s between me and my Netflix account.
More Heartstopper to come with season 3
Heartstopper has already been renewed for season 3! While we don’t know what will happen quite yet, the storyline will likely include many elements from the fourth volume of the graphic novels.
For now, you can find Heartstopper season 2 streaming on Netflix. Are you going to check it out? Let us know on social media or The Cosmic Circus Discord!