Charlie and Nick are back in the season 2 premiere of Heartstopper titled “Out.” And like any good show, it feels like the calm before the storm where we get to see Charlie and Nick in the honeymoon phase of their relationship. (I’M SCARED, PEOPLE! 😭) This episode also dropped hints here and there of where Elle and Tao’s relationship is going and the fact that there is a little spark in Isaac that speaks of him wanting more. All together it feels really good to be back in this world and sharing in the unapologetic LGBTQ+ love, camaraderie, and realness that is this show. So without further ado let’s dive into Heartstopper 2×01!
The Importance of Nick Taking His Time Coming Out
Out of everything that happened in the premiere episode of season 2 of Heartstopper, the love and patience that went into Nick coming out was my favorite. He’s come out to his mother, the most important person in his life. And he has taken small but significant steps to tell a close friend about his new boyfriend. And sure I would have wished that Imogen would have let Nick speak his truth. But their kids and I think everyone really loves the moment where the person struggling gets surprised when the person they’re talking to already knows the secret. Plus I really love the hug that came afterwards because it was just a moment of comfort and connection.
Too often TV forgets that our queer experiences are nuanced and they make our coming out scenes really similar. The matter of fact is that you don’t need to tell anybody that you’re queer or that you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community. But if you do it’s at your own pace no matter what anyone else thinks. And it’s also unique depending on the person, their life situation, or just the way that they grew up. No one coming out is the same and you could see that Heartstopper understood that in “Out.” And I’m really glad that he’s surrounded by people that love, care, and support him. They will be there when the shit hits the fan. Because as I’ll talk about below, it always does.
That particular shit is in the form of Ben. Well him and Nick’s rugby mates. I think Ben is going to continue pushing Nick’s buttons because in a way he wishes that he was in a position where he was as free in his feelings as Nick is. But Ben is an asshole and if he ruins anything for Nick I will create a machine to enter the TV and destroy him. As for the rugby team, I think they’re going to try and bully Nick in the same way that they did Charlie. But the difference is that Nick is a completely different person and will throw it down. Also, he’s got Charlie, his new friend group, and his mom completely backing him up and making sure that he doesn’t feel alone.
Nick will make it through. But Ben and those rugby players? I hope they’re left in the dust because they’re bullies and we don’t have time for them.
The Calm Before the Storm
As much as I loved this episode of Heartstopper, by the end of it I had so much anxiety. That’s especially true after what Charlie was telling his sister. Because he remembers what happened to him when he got outed and the bullying he experienced. And him wanted to protect Nick comes from a place of love and understanding of the queer experience. But every person is different and we’ve seen that in every moment that Nick has been on screen. Nick’s coming out will be different from Charlie’s and he won’t be able to protect his boyfriend. All he’ll be able to do is support him when shit hits the fan and it will.
I would also like to note that the final moment where Nick is walking away and everything is sunny and beautiful, would have gone differently if this was a Vince Gilligan production. I was waiting for someone to come out of nowhere and whack him in the head and then throw him in the back of a trunk. But this is Heartstopper and things will definitely go different. There will be angst and teenage feelings, but I think they’re going to come out stronger as a couple and as individual people or just trying to figure out who they are in this big crazy world. But again, if this was any other show I would be shitting myself.
Overall I love that Charlie wants to protect Nick and I think that the actors did a great job at expressing a sincerity born out of understanding. I think that the cinematography did a good job of setting the stage for the honeymoon phase that they are in. And I think that they are creating essential TV that will hopefully show even more queer people that they are not alone and that their experiences can be multifaceted while still having a support system. And I hope it makes even more people feel seen in a world that is consistently trying to crush us in varying ways for just loving who we love.
Elle and Tao Really Need to Talk
Elle and Tao were equal parts adorable and frustrating. And I get it. They’ve been friends for so long that a change in dynamic is terrifying. It could lead to some awkward moments or even the end of their friendship. Anyone would be scared to shake that balance especially when you mean so much to each other. But they are doing, or not doing one thing that would solve all their problems. They’re not talking. They’re just pussy footing around each other and making assumptions about what the other one wants without actually taking a moment to ask each other what they want.
And again, I get it. It’s young love after all. And during those formative years, you’re a tangled mess of indecision, hormones, and all of these brand-new experiences that make you feel like you’re on top of the world or being crushed by it. Basically, you’re figuring things out. And Elle and Tao are just doing that. Elle is trying to ascertain if someone she’s cared for for a very long time could see her in a romantic light. And Tao is so sure that Elle could never see him in any light besides friendship, that he shoots himself in the foot in anticipation when Elle approaches him. Together they are a teenage disaster of feels.
Keeping all of that in mind, I think they’re going to make it. And this is coming from someone who still hasn’t read the Heartstopper comics because I want to be a little surprised. Nevertheless, there is intentionality behind this writing that speaks of a greater love. The same thing goes for the actors at the heart of this romance. They sell every line and moment. And they deserve all the accolades for the story that they are barely scratching the surface on. They also deserve recognition for the hard work that goes into writing a show like this and fair pay because this trauma, teenage angst, and feels can and will change lives. AI can’t write that drama. It never will.
Is Isaac Looking for a Romantic Connection Too?
I will admit that I never paid attention to Isaac in Heartstopper season 1. He was just there. And the great thing is that his friends never excluded him just because it felt like either everyone was coupled up or was trying to couple up. (I’ve been traumatized to the point where if you’re single on a show, they always make it seem like there’s something wrong with you.) Isaac is still their friend and always will be. Season 2 of Heartstopper continues with the same intentionality as season 1 with small but new clear signs that Isaac wants a connection just like his friends have. And for someone who is asexual, moments like this where characters like Isaac are explored, matter.
Too often TV thinks that asexual people are broken or that they can’t enter into beautiful monogamous or polyamorous relationships. In fact, they perpetuate this narrative and it bleeds out into the real world. Asexual people aren’t broken and being their most honest self doesn’t stop them from having connections with others. And I see something in Isaac in one episode that speaks to him possibly wanting to explore new parts of himself. And for a show that has already touched so many lives, this exploration is going to make people feel seen. Or at least I hope it does because my expectations for Heartstopper are through the roof.
Besides the possible romance or connection with someone in the future, I wanted to spotlight how his friends respected him during that sleepover party. And this doesn’t just come from the people who have known him for ages. Tara, who is new to the group, asked Isaac to dance. She was being a little playful trying to get the book away from him. But when she realized that it wasn’t going to happen, she let it go. And Isaac stayed with zero awkwardness in the room that he didn’t want to get up and dance. Showing that we can be in social situations with different intentions from those that we love, matters. We don’t have to match up. We just have to respect each other and I think Heartstopper does a really good job at that.
Random Thoughts from Heartstopper “Out”:
- Again, I will destroy Ben if he does anything to mess with Nick. And I hope that Imogen, who has been Nick’s friend for a very long time, sees through his bullshit ASAP. She’s a little ditzy but she’s got a good heart and her reaction to Nick coming out with sweet and reminded me of the Stranger Things coming out scene between Robin and Steve. They are bros.
- On a more positive note, I really appreciate how season 2 has continued with the cheesy little animations that match the moments between our couples. Even when it’s a sad moment it adds something different and totally unique to this property. I also appreciate the music. Whoever chose them did it with beautiful intentionality that match the scenes on screen.
- I feel like a grandma that the youths are exchanging all these love messages through Instagram. But then I think back to how some of my counterparts used Myspace before Facebook became the thing. Same thing, different platform. No Tom. Just Mark.
- The entire time I was watching “Out” I kept wondering where Charlie’s parents were. Because there’s no way I would let my son have hanky panky time under my roof with his adorable boyfriend unless he’s married! I’m joking of course but it’s really nice to see Charlie’s parents treat his relationship with Nick like any parent would with their child. It’s normal and being treated like we’re not the other matters and is pivotal to how one goes through life. And I’m not like Hopper from Stranger Things. That door needs to be more than 3 inches and no sleepovers!
Heartstopper season 2 is now available on Netflix.
What did you think of episode 2×01? Let us know in the comments below!
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, Heartstopper being covered here wouldn’t exist.