In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Saturday I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicles, reviews (like this Heartstopper one), 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.
When I say that Heartstopper season 2 feels like the blueprint for the future of LGBTQ+ content, I need you to understand that I’ve been watching TV and movies for a very long time. Not the Stone Age or something like that but long enough to remember seeing queer people on TV or in movies for the first time. I remember them not being the butt of the joke or just being a background character. I remember when TV and movies gently started bringing us into the mainstream media but only in doses as if testing out the waters. And I feel like Heartstopper, especially season 2, is a marker in time as to how far we have come and how far we still have to go. But it’s still a moment that is worth remembering as it will set the stage for more LGBTQ+ content.
The biggest strength of season 2 is how none of the characters got lost because of each other. Sure, Charlie and Nick were still the mean focus of the story. But that didn’t mean that Isaac’s story of self-discovery was any less important. The same thing goes for the changing relationship between Elle and Tao. And we could also see that in others that were outside of this friendship group like Imogen, who by the end was part of their little community. Every single member didn’t fade. If anything they lifted each other up. Sometimes they stumbled admittedly. But they got back up and kept trying. And they did this while not falling into stereotypes or tropes that were used to when we see queer people on our screens. Especially the stereotype that we are only of value when we’re with someone romantically. We have more value than that and there couldn’t be multiple of us on a property.
“Charlie, Nick, and the rest of the gang will someday be these older queers.”
This strength is also something that was given to the older queers of Heartstopper season 2. We’ve seen Mr. Ayaji before and how he had Charlie’s back in these quiet and important moments. But we also saw Mr. Ajayi making friends with Mr. Farouk. We saw them flirt, hang around each other, kiss, and even make eyes at each other at the thought of this transforming into something more. We even got a moment where Coach Singh talked about her wife. And I loved these small but important decisions when it comes to storytelling, because it shows that you don’t have to be young or a high schooler to have these queer experiences. These older queers made it and are still living exciting lives. Charlie, Nick, and the rest of the gang will someday be these older queers. And it’s a sign of hope that we persevere and we continue.
Admittedly, I do think that this season made me admire Charlie a little bit more than I did the first season. Nick was always my favorite and in many ways, he still remains so as I am also bisexual and have had to go through some of these issues. And even though this season focused a lot on Nick, I think we came to understand Charlie in a way that we’ve never done so before. And it made him a more complex and nuanced character that I could relate to and that I wanted to see more of. In Charlie, I saw so much resilience, strength, and pain. That boy has not processed the trauma of what happened to him before. And it is time, especially in season 3, for him to know and feel that he is not alone in this. He has people that will listen as he works through this. People that won’t turn their backs on him or make him feel like he’s being gaslit.
“…it’s good storytelling like this, that doesn’t come from AI, that shows queer people in this time, day, or age that this is what a healthy relationship looks like.”
Season 2, especially by the end of it, offered us a really strong partnership between Charlie and Nick. The same thing goes for Elle and Tao, Tara and Darcy, and maybe Isaac and the group in general. We could even throw Imogen in there. But in the main relationship between Charlie and Nick, you got to see two young people treat each other as if they are partners in this. And I know that at that age you think of everything being totally serious and it’s the most exhilarating your life could ever get. Or you think so. But just because teenagers are experiencing these things in a heightened sense because of hormones and first-time experiences, doesn’t mean that the experiences are any less real. And it’s good storytelling like this, that doesn’t come from AI, that shows queer people in this time, day, or age that this is what a healthy relationship looks like. These are what healthy relationships look like. These are the conversations you should be having in a healthy relationship.
Circling back on what I said at the beginning of this review, Heartstopper season 2 is the kind of gem of a season that will definitely inspire other writers. Because in a day and age where it’s all about the shock factor and how a studio, TV show, or movie can scare/throw off/wow an audience, it’s really nice to just see people living queer lives. No one died or got shot by a random bullet. No terrible stereotypical jokes are made at our expense while telling us that we are actually part of the joke while they’re laughing at us. No more treating us as if we are just a box to check off. And with its continued success in season 2, it means eyes are on this property. People are learning from it, for themselves and their personal lives but also in the kind of content that will be created next.
“…it’s time for studios to buck up and pay their writers and actors a fair wage so we can get back to work but in a more equitable manner that leaves writers inspired…”
This is the responsibility that Heartstopper carries on its shoulders and I think it’s proud to do so. And it’s another example of how AI could never do what Heartstopper is doing. They could never capture the nuance of this writing or the way that the actors bring it to life. And it’s time for studios to buck up and pay their writers and actors a fair wage so we can get back to work but in a more equitable manner that leaves writers inspired more than ever before to continue writing and working on shows like Heartstopper. The only way forward is to pay them and until then, we will be celebrating what this show means to the community, but more importantly, what Alice Oseman has created with this comic and the lives that they have saved along the way by making a kinder and more inclusive world people could relate to.
Heartstopper season 2 is now available on Netflix.
Queerly Not Straight posts every Saturday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latine community since I am Latine.)
What did you think of season 2? 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.