In a come-to-life version of a fluffy romance, Alice Oseman expands our understanding of love through her original Webtoon characters in season 2 of “Heartstopper” on Netflix.
In season one, we were introduced to the eight-episode story of how Truham’s rugby captain, Nick Nelson, and the lovable introvert, Charlie Spring, became friends and realized their growing feelings for one another. Friendship, discovery, and learning more about one’s identity were at the heart of the season. After completing the season, my single thought was, “When is it my turn?”
[WARNING: spoilers ahead if you have not watched the new season!]
In season two, we not only continue to follow the lives and relationship between Nick and Charlie (as they travel to Paris on a school trip together, prepare to come out to family and friends, and learn more about the other boy’s hidden struggles). We also learn more about their friends. Characters Tao, Elle, Darcy, Tara, and Imogen are fleshed out in a way where viewers can see more of their characterization and individual futures. Fans, including myself, were especially ecstatic to see an expansion of queer representation through Charlie’s friend, Isaac Henderson.
Throughout the episodes, we see Isaac people-watching and questioning whether he desires a romantic relationship in the same way his friends do. There is a specific scene on the bus when Isaac asks Charlie how he knew he wanted to date Nick and how he knew he liked him. As someone who still struggles to differentiate between platonic and romantic love, I related to Isaac all too well. At the end of the series, we watch the avid romantic novel reader head to the school library, where he picks up a book on asexuality.
Sometimes, the perfect romance story is one we visualize in our head as we read an author’s words on a page or watch the characters’ relationships on a screen blossom. But to see the representation of a character who admits that maybe watching and experiencing these feelings from afar is as close to a desire for a romantic relationship on a global platform is truly an invaluable experience for youth around the world discovering their own sexuality and queer identities.
I still don’t know if I truly want it to be my turn in the case of a relationship. Still, seeing a character who shares these thoughts and feelings in a world where friends can only ever seem to gossip about crushes, Oseman crafted a truly refreshing and first-time experience for me as a viewer.
Creating such a safe space is truly one of the reasons why I believe we make art in the first place and has made Oseman such a beloved creator thus far. What more can I ask for than feeling like I’m not alone in my understanding of myself?
Needless to say, I am beyond excited to see what season three holds!