The coming of age love stories, dramatic gossips, and typical school dilemmas are not new. Shows like Derry Girls, Sex Education, and Never Have I Ever have proven that such themes can captivate audiences. Interestingly, Heartstopper manages to stand out as revolutionary, even amidst its quirky, conventional, and lovable approach to the teen coming-of-age genre. Despite sharing similarities with other series, there’s something unique about Heartstopper that sets it apart and makes it feel groundbreaking in its own right.
In the highly anticipated eight-episode second season, the BAFTA-nominated and GALECA Dorian Award-winning series, we meet the adorable teenage couple, Nick (Kit Connor) and Charlie (Joe Locke) again. As they embark on their journey after Nick’s courageous act of coming out as bisexual to his mother, Sarah (Olivia Colman), at the end of season one.
As Nick takes a moment at school to share the news, Charlie surprises him with a congratulatory kiss, igniting a beautiful comic book-inspired montage. The enchanting sequence showcases the couple as they intimately spend time together, with heartwarming kisses – lots of lots of kisses.
An Ode to LGBTQ+ Youth
Nick’s journey presents a refreshing and innovative perspective on a queer coming-out arc, which some may argue has become overly familiar. While his mother (Olivia Colman) has wholeheartedly embraced his sexuality, his brother teases him for displaying feminine traits. In a striking contrast, Charlie’s sister Tori (Jenny Walser) exudes a delightful blend of somberness and cynicism, always looking out for her brother and providing unwavering support when he needs it the most.
Heartstopper doesn’t exist in a utopian world devoid of homophobia or transphobia; rather, it acknowledges the challenges. Nick’s anxiety lies not in a lack of acceptance but in the fear of being treated differently at school. Potentially losing friends, and facing altered dynamics on the rugby team.
In contrast, Charlie, who has already been out for more than a year, finds himself unable to offer solutions to Nick’s predicament. Nonetheless, their open and healthy dialogue about this dilemma forms an essential part of their bond. This complex portrayal of their experiences adds depth and authenticity to their characters, making it all a truly captivating series.
Alice Oseman and Euros Lyn skillfully balance meaningful storylines for all characters, ensuring their significance alongside Nick and Charlie’s journey. The series world expands as Elle (Yasmin Finney) explores her dreams in art college, forming bonds with new trans friends, Naomi and Felix. Additionally, one of the lead characters discovers and embraces their asexuality, contributing to the show’s inclusive and natural portrayal of diverse experiences; resonating deeply with audiences.
A Minor Setback
In an effort to capture the essence of Oseman’s original webtoon, the show creatively infuses small graphic designs on-screen whenever the characters experience intense emotions. Each shot is meticulously designed to resemble a comic book strip, adding to the immersive experience. However, this artistic choice also results in a frequent occurrence of around 18 “two hands inch closer together, almost holding one another, but barely touching” shots per episode.
Heartstopper beautifully captures the essence of human emotion without exaggeration or sensationalism, making it relatable to audiences of all ages. The show delves into universal themes like love, fear of rejection, heartache, self-esteem, family dynamics, and grief. These experiences are felt so intensely by the characters as they navigate their teenage years, remain significant perhaps throughout our lives, becoming more familiar as time goes on. This light hearted series offers something delightful for audience of any age to cherish and enjoy.