Heartstopper Season 2 Continues to be a Breezy Comfort Watch

TV Reviews Heartstopper
Heartstopper Season 2 Continues to be a Breezy Comfort Watch

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, then you’re likely familiar with Netflix’s queer hit Heartstopper. Hailed as an LGBTQ+ show for the ages, with wholesome love between two high school boys bolstered by their charmingly diverse friend group, the series remains breezy and comforting in its second season. 

Following the revelation at the end of Season 1 that high schoolers Nick (Kit Conner) and Charlie (Joe Locke) are finally boyfriends, Season 2 picks up the very next day. Still from series creator and writer Alice Oseman, this second season follows Nick and Charlie as they navigate coming out and being a couple, and all the drama, joy, and heartache that comes with it. Surrounded by their friends, including the will-they won’t-they pair Tao (William Gao) and Elle (Yasmin Finney), couple Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell), and bookworm Isaac (Tobie Donovan), Nick and Charlie must take both the elation and heartbreak in stride in order to make it through the rest of the school year intact. Maintaining the series’ airy and comforting tone, backed by a killer soundtrack and its staple animated leaves and hearts, Heartstopper Season 2 is an enjoyable—if surface-level—binge. 

More than anything, Heartstopper’s second outing is easy viewing, and its short, four-hour runtime leaves behind a warm fuzziness the second the credits roll on its slightly-longer final episode. There’s a palpable joy in the interactions between Nick and Charlie this season; they spend a majority of the season’s opening episodes making out and reveling in the joy that comes with finally allowing themselves to be together, unburdened by their own inner demons. Tao and Elle’s interactions are filled with levity as well, even as they navigate their complicated dynamic. It’s refreshing to see a trans character be portrayed as desirable and strong as well as kind and vulnerable, especially in the midst of the United States’ recent wave of anti-trans legislation; while oftentimes trans stories on screen are reserved for the most heart-wrenching, depressing depictions of the dangers that come alongside being trans, Elle’s freedom to simply be one of Heartstopper’s open hearts (while also not pointedly ignoring the struggles she faces) is one of the series’ biggest successes. While relegated a little more to the sidelines, Tara, Darcy, and Issac also find their own forms of joy this season, and remain as charming as ever. And the addition of Imogen (Rhea Norwood) into the friend group in a more substantial way allows for an elevated hilarity that can only be brought about by everyone’s favorite ally. 

While the first season was hailed as a queer delight, the second season seems to double down on its queerness. Straight characters are few and far between, and the addition of more trans characters like Elle’s friend Naomi (Bel Priestly), more bisexual characters like Sahar (Leila Khan), and more gay characters like James (Bradley Richaes) creates a fuller picture of the inclusive and diverse Gen Z reality. Hell, even all the teachers that surround Nick and Charlie are queer, and characters previously believed to be allies find themselves having realizations. Additionally, Olivia Colman’s iconic role as Nick’s mother is expanded this season, allowing her to bring even more of that supportive mother energy that this show (and likely its audience) desperately needs. It’s simultaneously idealized and strikingly real; Heartstopper presents a loving and accepting world where we can find pieces of queerness and community within everyone around us, and even its darker moments can’t damper the light created by this approach. 

However, when those darker moments come, they don’t quite reach the depth they should, and it leaves this season feeling too breezy, too wholesome, and too surface-level. This series has a reputation for depicting queer joy, but even the first season never shied away from homophobia or hatred lingering on the edges of the story. And while it is refreshing to see these heavy topics such as eating disorders, homophobia, and bullying discussed on the show (and especially to see these characters come out the other side of these struggles happier than before), there is still a mishandled weight in those moments.

Every struggle faced by these characters is resolved with a well-placed line of dialogue that feels like a disjointed cross between clinical and human. An indie guitar riff can solve any issue in this show, and Season 2’s attempts at heavier material are never quite successful. Later in the season, Issac complains that his friends only think he’s interesting if he has romance in his life, and the same complaint can be levied against the show—other personal drama gets shunted to the side in favor of more kissing and animated love hearts. And when the idea of sex is brought up, the series flinches away, even relegating its grown adult characters to the coy, virginal tone of the rest of the series. 

Overall, if you liked the first season of Heartstopper, then Season 2 is a must-watch. It carries that same wholesome nature of the first, while upping the ante on both its central romances and its genre conventions. There is so much to love about this series, including the very tangible love radiating from every character interaction and every storyline.

It’s undeniably a special show, one that brings about a specific cross of elation and heartache for every non-teenager that watches Heartstopper and sees a youth that could have been theirs, and a special type of visibility for younger viewers to see themselves and their friends reflected on screen. Heartstopper is a genuine delight, and the perfect weekend watch to add some sunny jubilance to your summer afternoon. With Season 3 already ordered and on the way soon, Heartstopper’s second outing remains essential viewing for both the queer community and beyond.

Heartstopper Season 2 premieres Thursday, August 3rd on Netflix. 

Anna Govert is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For any and all thoughts about TV, film, and the wonderful insanity of Riverdale, you can follow her @annagovert.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

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