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‘Heartstopper’ Season 2 Review: The Teenage Romantic Comedy Returns With A Coming Out Saga Of Charming Proportions

Charlie and Nick find that being an official couple means getting to tell the world just how they feel…even if they lose some friends and family along the way… 

By Matthew Creith

“If you’re going to be gay, at least admit that you’re gay.”

Coming out of the closet can be an arduous experience for many. Starting this journey while you’re still in your teenage years seems almost unfathomable. But for the characters of Heartstopper, Netflix’s queer series based on the graphic novel of the same name, coming out is just the beginning. The second season of this adorable dramedy hits the streamer on August 3, maintaining the electricity initially generated in season one.

When last we saw our fateful leads, Charlie (Joe Locke) and Nick (Kit Connor), the new couple decided to make it official after several obstacles were thrown their way. Chief among them was Charlie’s secret ex-boyfriend Ben (Sebastian Croft) and Nick’s adjustment to new feelings for Charlie. These same obstacles present themselves in season two, but in varying thematic ways. Season one’s finale capped off with ultra-athletic rugby player Nick coming out to his understanding mother (Olivia Colman) that he is bisexual, setting up a season two filled with anxiety about the next steps. Nick and Charlie’s relationship is fresh, new, romantic, and still mysterious to some around them. The teenage years can be difficult on the surface, but the added pressure of coming out to an entire school and possibly having sex with a new love is daunting.

Heartstopper season one was mainly about exploring the attraction and feelings that Charlie and Nick had for one another as they battled the demons of their past. Coming out is the focal point of Heartstopper season two as Nick wrestles with the timing of telling his fellow Rugby players, classmates, estranged father, brother, and anyone who will listen about his relationship with Charlie. For anyone who has ever had to announce to others that they are part of the 2SLGBTQI+ family, it’s easy to understand just how difficult of a decision this can be for some people. While some of Charlie’s best friends are in on the secret, many of their mutual classmates have no idea.

Coming out is a process, not a singular event, for some. This is the case for Nick. While Charlie and Nick’s relationship is official, both have come out to their respective mothers, but Nick is slow to come out to his friends, fellow Rugby players, and even Imogen. This doesn’t stop the new couple from making out on school grounds every chance they get, almost wanting to get caught. Nick and Charlie’s new friendship circle consists of trans students, a lesbian couple, and even one friend who might be asexual. Heartstopper has never shied away from telling the queer experience from a young person’s perspective, and season two is no different. 

New couples form, some break up, and the school year continues with new obstacles thrown into the lives of friends Tao (William Gao), Tara (Corinna Brown), Darcy (Kizzy Edgell), and Elle (Yasmine Finney). However, the series’ strength lies in Charlie and Nick’s budding romance, which takes a giant leap in this newest season after revelations about Nick’s family threaten to derail their life together. Nick struggles with his home life when his older brother visits, all the while wanting to tell his dad in France about Charlie, though their relationship is already complicated enough. Charlie’s eating disorder becomes a focus of the season as it develops in the background, just as his relationship with Nick blossoms to new heights.

Several teachers get involved in these kids’ lives, amounting to a new point of view from characters unexplored in the first season. The personal life of the ever-caring Mr. Ajayi (Fisayo Akinade) takes center stage while the new teacher, Mr. Farouk (Nima Taleghani), also strikes up a romance. It’s these scenes that, while meant to accompany the students’ romantic entanglement storylines, feel out of place. Well-intentioned but a little messy in its execution. 

Something that creator Alice Oseman and the series’ writers get very right in this season is telling Nick’s story through a bisexual lens. Bisexuals tend to be portrayed in the media as overtly sexual, and misunderstandings come up where outsiders believe bisexuality is just a stop on the train to being gay. Actor Kit Connor knows this first hand when he was recently forced to come out in real life as bisexual due to internet trolls who accused the performer of queer baiting as the character of Nick. Nick’s bisexuality mirrors Connor’s, and it’s clear the writers want to make it evident that Nick’s coming out as bisexual differs from Charlie’s experience of being gay. It’s done masterfully and delicately in an accommodating way for a show like this.

Heartstopper season two comes down to the details. Charlie is sensitive, while Nick is a little rougher around the edges. Charlie is confident in his sexuality, while Nick needs some time to figure out who he is. Charlie stands up for himself more, especially when faced with the trauma of his past. Charlie and Nick continue to grow together in the uncomfortable moments, making this season worth it.

The first season reflected a fairy tale of queer romance and coming-of-age. Heartstopper truly flourishes in its second season as it delves into the intricacies and challenges of being in a relationship with emotionally charged elements. It becomes even more enriched and multi-dimensional while retaining its charm.

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