‘Heartstopper’ season 2 review: Love and friendship continue to triumph in Alice Oseman’s world

Though the show demands a suspension of reality for some part, its brilliance lies in the fact that it promises a joyous adolescence to queer kids and urges them to hold out their idealism for a little longer

August 04, 2023 05:20 pm | Updated 05:40 pm IST

Joe Locke and Kit Connor in a still from the second season of ‘Heartstopper’

Joe Locke and Kit Connor in a still from the second season of ‘Heartstopper’ | Photo Credit: Netflix

Alice Oseman has created a world for queer people where love and friendship conveniently bend the rules of reality; there are emotionally mature teens, (mostly) supportive adults, a token straight friend, bullies capable of reform, gay queer stories and even a study tour to Paris!

The last time we saw Truham Boys School’s rugby captain Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), he was busy lifting Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) up in his arms on a beach date and screaming out loud, “We’re boyfriends!” After eight episodes of will-they-won’t-they, the boys start dating and Nick comes out as bisexual to his mother, Sarah Nelson (Olivia Colman). The latest season picks right off from where the first one left us; and this time around, Nick and Charlie cannot get enough of each other. However, they are forced to sneak around in school as the star rugby player is not out to his friends and schoolmates yet. Though he intends on sharing his budding romance with Charlie to the world he falters and this forms the primary conflict of the second instalment.

Heartstopper (Season 2) (English)
Director: Euros Lyn
Writer: Alice Oseman
Cast: Kit Connor, Joe Locke, Olivia Colman, Yasmin Finney, William Gao, Kizzy Edgell, Corinna Brown, Rhea Norwood, Tobie Donovon
Episodes: 8
Runtime: 31 to 40 minutes per episode
Storyline: As Nick and Charlie’s relationship matures, Nick faces the challenge of opening up to others outside their friend circle

Despite multiple failed attempts at coming out, the filmmakers are patient with Nick and do not hasten his character arc to lift the pace or the narrative rhythm of the show.

The second season also broadens the show’s horizons and lets the audience into the lives of the friends of Charlie and Nick. We follow Elle Argent’s (Yasmin Finney) efforts to make it to art school and get a glimpse into where Tao’s (Willian Gao) insecurities stem from. The characters of Darcy Olsson (Kizzy Edgell) and Tara Jones (Corinna Brown) are further developed as the duo try to resolve hurdles in their relationship. No adversity is big enough to bring down the upbeat energy of the show and most of them get resolved with friendly assurances; peppered with dates to Wes Anderson movies and tense family dinners, the show aptly meets the expectations set by the first season.

Though it demands a suspension of reality for some part, the show’s brilliance lies in the fact that it promises a joyous adolescence to queer kids and urges them to hold out their idealism for a little longer. Its humour is on point, especially when it attempts to parody the ‘token gay best friend’ trope by inverting it with the help of Imogen (Rhea Norwood).

The Parisian monuments in this season elevate the signature bookish illustrations of the show and help it maintain its stylistic continuity. 

However, while the first season had a universal appeal, the second seems to be self-limiting with expository dialogue reading like the lines from a guidebook and moments of self-discovery being supplemented with a narration that sounds like a sermon, especially in the case of Isaac Henderson (Tobie Donovon). The audience might feel infantilised as there is not enough room for them to draw their own interpretations. 

Despite the unwarranted exercise in restraint, the warm embrace of Alice Oseman’s world continues to win people over.

The second season of Heartstopper is currently streaming on Netflix

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