People who have not watched Heartstopper might be inclined to question the novelty of two boys awkwardly falling in love with each other. There are no major conflicts or obstacles in their way, yet fans of this show will call it one of the great love stories. That is because it perfectly captures the messy yet exhilarating process of falling in love. Sometimes, the fact that someone was loved the right way is enough to make it great, and Heartstopper understands that.
First things first, watching Heartstopper is like watching the graphic novel unfold in front of our eyes. Season 2 follows the third volume of the book series, and it comes with plenty of additions that have unexpectedly enhanced the narrative. Having Alice Oseman as an important person on the team seems to have worked its magic. The series is simply beautiful to look at, with the scenery and the cute graphics floating around that are reminiscent of the art style of the novels. Additionally, the results are always wonderful when the chemistry between actors is not compromised during the casting. Joe Locke is sweet as the shy, curly-haired Charlie, but we believe that the heavy lifting was done by Kit Conner, who not only needed to “look like a golden retriever” but also exude a similar charm, which he does effortlessly. Even the rest of the cast, be it the loud Tao, the wise Elle, or the goofy Darcy next to her more reserved girlfriend, Tara, were perfect. William Gao, as Tao Xu, was a bit of a revelation with his short hair.
Coming to the other aspects, we have heard some noise regarding straight people taking liberty with queer stories, and we are consciously stepping away from commenting on that since our cis-het perspective would not be able to articulate that as well as the community themselves. What we can do is use that very perspective to talk about how well-done this story is.
Some people might say that Season 2 of Heartstopper is a bit unrealistic due to the way Nick, Charlie, or any of the others were so easily accepted for their queer identities. It may be true, but we once read something by a queer person where they spoke about wanting to see stories that went beyond the tragedies they had to face in their lives. Borrowing words from them, we are saying that queer lives offer surprising love and support, and much like the rainbow used to represent them, their lives are a collection of all kinds of experiences and people that deserve equal representation in cinema. Therefore, whether or not Heartstopper is idealistic or not, the beauty of the story cannot be negated, and it deserves to be told.
On that note, we must also address the sensitivity with which mental health issues were handled in Season 2 of Heartstopper. While the person with the issue is the one who has to take the required steps to heal, the acknowledgment and care of a third person can make a world of difference and be what gives them the faith that a problem does not mean that they are damaged. Be it the way Nick was there for Charlie, how Tara and Darcy always knew to give Elle her space, or even how James’ understanding allowed Isaac to explore his feelings and identity for himself; Heartstopper was a masterclass in how far a little empathy for people’s situations can go.
On a lighter note, Nick and Charlie must give out texting lessons to the entire population of the world. It is not just that they don’t tire of telling each other how awesome they are, but how they always know to grab the pulse of the situation and send the text or the emoji accordingly. We feel we would have better luck in a world full of dating apps if only we could text like Nick or Charlie.
While Nick and Charlie knew the feelings they had for each other in Season 1, Season 2 of Heartstopper is about their discovery that nothing can pull them apart. It is the step-by-step building up of their relationship through the time they spend with each other and the respect they have for each other’s boundaries and space that is further elaborated on in this season. There is never a minute that feels skippable or an episode after which you feel like you are done for the day and would want to save the rest for later. In fact, this is exactly the kind of series that has you reaching for the book it was based on just so that you can go through the story once again. It is the kind of story that makes you read everything written by the author because you are astounded by the mind that had the imagination and the courage to come up with something like this.
There is not a single part of Heartstopper—the book or the series—that doesn’t make you fall in love with it. Everyone who watches this may or may not swoon at the interactions between the leads, but they will find their standards rising in regard to how they want to be treated in relationships and in life. There are a million reasons to watch Seasons 1 and 2 and not a single one to skip them. We don’t just say this because of the honesty of the love between Nick and Charlie or any of the others; it is because the writers still had a grasp on the aspect of storytelling itself.
The series deviated from the books quite a bit in Season 2, but it never went off-track with the soul of the books or made it anything less than engaging by giving in to randomness or by taking the audience for granted. This singular quality of Season 2 is what makes it so elite. Let Season 2 of Heartstopper be what you watch when you steal time from your busy day because this show deserves as many viewers as it can get.