It’s difficult to follow up after a successful first season with an equally exciting, joyful, and heartwarming second. Especially when it’s a romance, I mean, what more can one expect? Little conflicts, new villains—that’s what we’ve been seeing in media for a while, and really, it gets terribly boring at a certain point. Apart from being the perfect, positive coming-of-age queer show that the world needed, Heartstopper happens to have an even more thoughtful second season that keeps up with its first and seamlessly continues to prove its worth.
Having been a fan of the graphic novels, I was grinning ear to ear through most of the series, and when I wasn’t, I was probably crying for a myriad of reasons. Eight 30-minute episodes feels rather short for a show that has so much heart, but it’s enough time for a tightly woven message and introspective thoughts. It’s not often that an adaptation can be as good as its source material and continue to get better, but it seems Heartstopper has broken the curse of bad sequels. The series takes off right where season 1 ended, with Nick coming out to his mother. This season focuses more on Nick’s efforts to come out to the people he cares for and how Charlie is dealing with it. There are also other love stories in bloom this season, and a certain someone learns a bit more than they knew about themselves. It’s a season of self-discovery and fulfilling dreams.
There’s something ridiculously powerful about how hopeful the show is. While it is, of course, the perfect show for high schoolers who may be experiencing their own identity crisis and see themselves in any of the characters of the show, I also think it’s helpful for older people to get some sort of comfort from it too. Nick and Charlie’s story doesn’t just end when they get together; that doesn’t mean ultimate perfection and happiness, which is very real for a show that is so rose-tinted. Alice Oseman balances deep and meaningful subjects with peachy decorations for a really wholesome experience.
In all honesty, I was a bit skeptical to see how the show proceeds to depict some of the harsher realities of Nick and Charlie’s experiences because, in a graphic novel, it doesn’t feel as jarring. As expected, every little munchkin on the show does an incredible job at playing their parts, and the characters can’t be separated from the actors anymore. We have some new characters like Sahar (who is in the books) and James, Noaomi and Felix are all great additions. Mr. Farouk, played by Nima Taleghani, is a standout for sure and is exactly how you’d imagine him from the books. William Gao is especially entertaining this season as Tao contemplates friendship and love. David is just as much of a prick as we’d imagined, and Jack Barton really makes him punch-worthy; it’s great! There’s a bigger part for Tori this season, and we can really see how much she cares for Charlie, which is incredibly moving and inspiring.
All of that screaming you did while watching season 1? Be ready to do as much and maybe even more. You can also expect to cry more this time around; specifically, the second half of the season will keep you choked up in a very good way. This season also focuses a lot on friendships, and it’s going to make you want to call your besties and cry to them. Everybody in the group gets as much attention as Nick and Charlie do, which is a great way to expand the show from the novels. A fan-favorite character, Imogen, returns even though there was not much to expect from her side of things, but after seeing it, it would be so weird not to see her there.
Resident haters Ben and Harry return, and although they don’t have the biggest roles in tormenting Charlie and Nick this time, they’re still as despicable but with exciting character arcs. This season feels like watching your childhood best friends grow a little and then become their own people. Each character goes on a journey with bumps along the way, but in the end, they successfully reach their destination. There’s nothing negative to be said about this series. It’s pretty much perfect; the only drawback is how short it is! Fans of the novels and Alice will also find a lot of Easter eggs, which are fun to spot, and this one is also going to be on repeat for many viewers because I can imagine there’ll be a new detail in every rewatch. There are also so many references to the first season, which is obvious fan service, but it’s so fun and never over the top or ridiculous, with perfect timing and connection. It’s really an impeccable sequel that does what its predecessor did even better. Alice has really nailed the formula there, and more teenage shows need to take notes.
There’s something very comforting about Heartstopper in how basic it is, almost as if you, the viewer, could be part of these conversations. Lately, the world of high school shows has become all about selling sex and weird supernatural plot twists (yes, it’s the show that starts with an “R” that has me fuming). And oddly enough, the only other enjoyable teenage show is literally titled Sex Education, which is a much more R-rated version of what Heartstopper is trying to do, which is why it’s got us all in a chokehold. If you enjoyed season 1, bring out your tissues and brownies to watch season 2 because you’ll be wanting a lot of warm hugs after this (no, seriously, I’m not the only one who wants to be at the center of the many group hugs in the show). I’d rate Heartstopper season 2 5/5 stars because there’s really nothing to nag about.