In the first season of “Heartstopper,” there was an unexpectedly delightful storyline. Adapted from Alice Oseman’s popular young-adult graphic novels, the series was a hit among teenagers, but it also resonated with older viewers, touching upon complex matters of the heart. Many LGBTQ+ adults found themselves affected by the portrayal of these peculiar teenage years, realizing that they, too, could relive their own desires. For many, the bittersweet romance between two teenage boys was a captivating experience.
Its return comes with high hopes on its shoulders. In the initial installment, the depiction of the will-they-won’t-they dynamic between rugby player Nick (Kit Conner) and artist Charlie (Joe Locke) intrigued its audience, revealing Nick’s same-sex attraction to his peers. But the tenderness of their bond was an essential aspect of its allure. Charlie had a similarly artful group of friends who supported him during tough times and played a part in Nick’s realization of his attraction.
As TV writers know, figuring out what comes after the will-they-won’t-they phase can be challenging, but now Nick and Charlie are together, deeply in love, spending all their time together, sending each other messages like “Good morning, boyfriend,” and celebrating their two-month anniversary. It may sound clichéd in other contexts, but here, it’s absolutely enchanting.
However, they are still in their teenage years, and despite finding comfort in each other, they face pressures from all sides. Their emotions can be overwhelming, and at times, they stumble on the edges of adolescence.
This is GCSSE time, and both boys are anxious. While Nick has his mother (a majestic Olivia Colman, who occasionally makes appearances) to turn to, he also has other family members, including a tough big brother and an absent father. The series ends with an unusual dinner party, featuring on this year’s list of strange TV dinner parties, which will be a relief to those who’ve watched The Beers, as there’s no fish involved.
Heartstopper manages to tackle danger lightly, with struggles resolving quite quickly. LGBTQ+ teens are at the center of this idealism. Despite all their innocence, when a character enters a club, they cautiously remind us that this is an under-18 night – complicating the storytelling. Many layers remain to be unfolded before Nick comes out, depending on who and when he decides to reveal the truth. The fact that he is bisexual and the exploration of biphobia and bierasure allows people to suggest that he hasn’t yet realized he’s gay. It examines the impact of coming out or not on the other person in a relationship.
The show expands its scope by allowing more time and space for peripheral characters to develop their stories. Elle and Tao are contemplating taking their best friendship outside the friend zone, while grappling with the fear that it might jeopardize their closeness. Isaac has a poignant subplot about books and the significance of reading. Tara and Darcy learn more about their relationship’s boundaries and what parents deem appropriate or unacceptable for same-sex couples, which gives them more room to breathe outside school.
I personally enjoyed the second season more than the first. It is richer, more assured, and benefits from broadening its web. Its target audience is young viewers, and it will never be forgotten, but it feels more nuanced than its initial impression, becoming a sweet and endearing delight.