In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Sunday (or when I’m feeling spicy) I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicles, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community from a Latina perspective. Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
P.S. I, Lyra Hale, do not give any site permission to copy or repost my work in any form. If you are reading this on any site besides Fangirlish, it has been stolen.
With Heartstopper season 2 just finished filming, it’s easy to dive into what we want to see when Charlie, Nick, and the rest of the gang return. But personally, as someone who is queer and has been disappointed left and right until this beauty of a show came around, I couldn’t help but worry about the things I don’t want to see. This is especially true because sophomore seasons have so much weighing on their shoulders; delivering the same quality as season 1 that fans want, while also taking their characters in new directions.
It’s important to note that this perspective is coming from someone who hasn’t read the comics yet. I want to read the, and have meant to buy the books. (I know it’s available online for free as well.) But a part of me wants to come into this journey as fresh as I can while also knowing the general beats of what’s heading my way. Which, according to GQ, Heartstopper season 2 will be hitting at Charlie’s body dysmorphia, the challenges Nick’s going to face from everyone now that he’s out, and there will be time spent on the topic of self-harm.
These are not going to be light topics. And neither do I think that Heartstopper season 2 should shy away from them or their importance. But I have been scarred from previous experiences when it comes to LGBTQ media and I want to see Heartstopper do a phenomenal job in season 2 that avoids the pitfalls of its predecessors. Basically, I want it to succeed, and these are the things I don’t want to see when this show returns to Netflix.
1. I don’t want to see flat stories that trivialize body dysmorphia.
Body dysmorphia is a complex mental health condition that I have only seen used as a crutch to move the story along to another situation. Quite often it only makes an appearance for one episode that ends up feeling like an afterschool special. Or honestly, it just gets ignored completely because there are other things that define these characters and are “core” to their story as if people don’t have multitudes inside them. This makes it so that when body dysmorphia stories happen on a show, they end up flat and feel like they’ve been solved in one episode. That’s not how BDD works.
So, when it comes to Charlie and what he’s experiencing when it comes to body dysmorphia, I hope Netflix sits down and has conversations with those who have experienced BDD. That’s the only way to tell an authentic and nuanced story. And I hope that Joe Locke is included in these conversations. Because he knows this character in a way that no one will ever understand. Well, except for the creator Alice Oseman. That’s a person who clearly loves what she is bringing to life and how the LGBTQ community is connecting with this show and its characters.
2. I don’t want to see a random love triangle meant to tear Charlie/Nick apart.
If you’ve read Heartstopper, you absolutely know whether there is love triangle drama on the horizon. But for those of us who are going in fresh, we don’t want to experience any shenanigans like this. And no, I don’t consider Ben from season 1 to be a threat or even a love triangle. He was positively garbage. And yes, I understand that when you’re young, you’re still trying to figure yourself out and what you want or who you want. But I don’t want a random love triangle to pop up for funsies and tear them apart before that random possible love interest fades into the background. Been there, done that, and wouldn’t want to go through it again.
Instead, I want to see Charlie and Nick grow as individuals and as partners. That’s the only way that a strong and honest bond will be formed between these two young men. And they will hit rough patches. That’s inevitable. It’s life after all. But Heartstopper gave me butterflies in season 1 because of the way that they grew with each other as friends, partners, and now boyfriends. That’s how they’ll face the obstacles that come their way. Because yes, drama is fun. But it’s not healthy or as realistic as TV wants you to believe. Sometimes people figure out what they want and face the ugly of the world together. And that’s what I want for Charlie and Nick.
3. I don’t want to see these young people dealing with shit alone.
According to director Euros Lyn, he considers Heartstopper to be “a political drama” about the possibilities of queer happiness. And in season 2 they will be exploring the “existential” themes of the source material. That means that our favorites are going to be dealing with the real shit that plenty of us have gone through or are currently going through. And it’s important to look at these existential themes that come with growing up because they make viewers feel seen and less alone. They also help viewers figure things out that maybe they’re too afraid to talk about with others or explore within themselves.
But the one thing that I want for these young people to have is each other.
And I get that life is isolating. I’ve been living through a pandemic that has left me completely isolated. But connections can be found in the most fascinating ways in life. And there will be moments in your life when you will be surrounded by supportive people, including family and friends. So if Heartstopper is supposed to be an exploration of the hardships that we go through in our formative years, they have to show how we lean on each other, how it helps, and how together we can weather the ups and downs that come with growing up. And I don’t want the show to forget this as we dive into harsher waters.
4. I don’t want to see one couple disappearing behind another.
Entering into a sophomore season is always such a delicate balance. You have to introduce new characters and new challenges. But you also have to remember where you started, where you’re going, and the beats that you deemed important in your premiere season. From previous experience on other shows, some characters inevitably end up fading into the background. That’s especially true for couples other than the main couple. That’s what I’m worried about when it comes to the relationships between Elle (Yasmin Finney) & Tao (William Gao) and Tara (Corinna Brown) & Darcy (Kizzy Edgell).
Again, I have faith in Heartstopper and Oseman’s dedication to this story. But doubt still trickles in sometimes, especially when I am so in love with Elle & Tao and Tara & Darcy. They both are at the beginning of transformative journeys that will define who they become. And I want to see how they do that together. Because their journeys are just as important as Charlie & Nick’s. Plus we don’t see stories like this where POC stories are front and center in mainstream LGBTQ content. And there is an opportunity with these couples to make people feel represented. And that’s what this show is all about.
5. And lastly, I don’t want to see anyone giving Kit Connor shit.
If you’re a fan of Heartstopper or are part of the fandom, you’ve probably heard of what happened to Kit Connor, who plays Nick. Just in case you haven’t heard of what happened, Connor, who was filming A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, was caught hanging out with his castmate Maia Reficco. This led to toxic stans flipping out. They were upset that another “straight white man” was playing an LGBTQ+ character. They demanded that Connor be removed from Heartstopper as he was, at least to them, queerbaiting. They even went so far as to send death threats to Reficco.
So Connor, because he’s an honorable person that wants to stop the threats to his friends and the show he cares for, came out as bisexual. (You can read more on why this was a fucked situation here.) And we DO NOT want to see that happening when season 2 comes around. Those toxic stans can stay away, keep quiet, and leave the fantastic cast of this show alone. Because they are doing important work while going through their own formative years. And they deserve the grace and respect that we would all want if we were in Connor’s shoes.
Heartstopper season 2 is coming soon to Netflix.
Queerly Not Straight posts every Sunday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)