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Heartstopper season 2 review (2023) - queer joy continues to triumph

Heartstopper season 2, which stars Joe Locke and Kit Connor, continues the love story between Nick and Charlie as well as tackling various other LGBTQ issues.

nick and charlie kissing heartstopper season 2

Our Verdict

The Netflix series continues to go from strength to strength as it tenderly handles more mature themes.

Heartstopper was one of the best TV series of 2022 — and I’m pleased to report that its second season definitely lives up to the first. In fact, with its astute commitment to educating its audience on queerness in all its forms, it may well surpass the first.

The love story between Nick and Charlie continues to be the core focus of the Netflix series, but this time round, it’s anchored around Nick Nelson’s coming out journey as he continues to come to terms with being bisexual.

While queer relationships where one character is closeted are usually played up for tension in most drama series, Heartstopper treats the issue of coming out with the complexity it deserves, with Charlie (Joe Locke) providing endless patience and support as Nick (Kit Connor) grapples with the idea of coming out to school and the recent return of his older, homophobic brother.

Connor continues to bring authenticity and warmth to Nick – a character endlessly charismatic and likable — while also rising to the occasion in the more dramatically demanding scenes he is given this season.

Joe Locke should also be praised for his sensitive portrayal of Charlie’s mental health struggles, which play a more pertinent role this season in line with the comic volumes.  It’s clear Netflix learned its lesson after Thirteen Reasons Why, as Heartstopper proves that sometimes, telling can be a lot more powerful than showing.

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In tender scenes where Charlie talks to Nick about his past, we’re spared unnecessarily graphic and triggering portrayals of self-harm and eating disorders. And by doing this, Heartstopper strikes the right balance between being candid about mental health and the importance of opening up while avoiding the descent into trauma porn.

Heartstopper also avoided the teen drama trope where having a partner suddenly “fixes” your mental health issues. This is deeply important, especially given Heartstopper’s relatively young audience base, because it promotes healthy relationship patterns.

The same goes for Heartstopper’s treatment of relationship issues like sex and the idea of dating long-distance. These scenarios are usually commonplace in teen dramas, but unlike most, Heartstopper eschews the more unhealthy, romanticized responses that tend to be championed by these types of shows.

nick and charlie in paris heartstopper season 2

But as much as Heartstopper is Nick and Charlie’s story, one of season 2’s greatest strengths is in how they utilized the rest of the supporting cast in careful, considerate, and well-fleshed-out storylines.

Elle (Yasmin Finney) and Tao’s (William Gao) slow-burn love story was one of the highlights of season 2, with Tao’s character getting some much-needed development which helps you contextualize his more abrasive moments in the preceding season.

Kizzy Edgell also proves that they’re much more than just a comic relief actor as we get more insight into Darcy’s troubling home life. At the same time, Isaac (Tobie Donovan) finally moves out of the shadows in a storyline that treads new ground in terms of queer representation.

tao and elle in paris heartstopper season 2

My only complaint is that we didn’t see more of Tori (Jenny Walser) this season, but when she does appear, she continues to be a scene-stealer.

Ultimately, Heartstopper season 2 continues to thrive as a loving, gentle exploration of queer joy in all its forms while tackling more complex themes and moving the characters and the storylines forward. And what happened, then? Well, in The Digital Fix, they say this critic’s small heart grew threes sizes that day.

tara and darcy in paris heartstopper season 2

The Heartstopper season 2 release date is August 3. It’s streaming exclusively on Netflix. For more top Netflix picks, check out our guides to everything new on Netflix, the best Netflix movies, the XO Kitty season 2 release date, the You season 5 release date, and the Ginny and Georgia season 3 release date.

Or, if you’re after more romance, pick a film from our lists detailing the best romance movies, best rom-coms, and best Valentine’s Day movies.