Finding Queer Joy In Heartstopper S2

On Thursday, season two of Heartstopper was released on Netflix. When the first season was released in April 2022, the world seemed to stop to experience queer joy as a unity, or at least that’s how it felt for many people who streamed it.

As someone who didn’t really understand their sexuality until their mid-20s, I’m one of the audience demographics who watches the show with awe at how some people are able to be themselves from a young age. Being out and proud isn’t always easy, but it can sometimes feel harder with age, not knowing how to rebrand yourself if your friends and family have watched you be who they thought you were for over two decades.

Young generations are lucky. Sure, there is still plenty of hate in the world, but there is so much joy and hope that overthrows it. To have series like this, and Prime Video’s upcoming Red, White and Royal Blue, it’s wonderful to be able to see more LGBTQ+ stories on screen. It’s not always been like this, and one thing I love seeing is the older generations view of Heartstopper. Whether it’s a parent watching it with their teenage child to learn about love, or people who have never been able to see themselves on screen until now, the positivity around this show is monumental, and makes me want to burst with pride.

Season two of the show introduces us to more than just the friendship group, allowing us into the personal lives of the seven main characters, and even further than that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TV show reflect teenage life in Britain so wonderfully. Sure, there have been some great ones through the years like Skins and Waterloo Road, but Heartstopper focuses on everyday life, rather than major extravagances to push audiences to tune in each week. This romantic comedy-drama really shows what it’s like to grow up with social media, how mental health issues can lead to other problems, and how high school crushes can feel like the end of the world. At the heart of Heartstopper (excuse the pun) is joy, and I adore that we never lose that, whatever the characters are going through.

I was lucky enough to attend Edinburgh TV Festival last year, and met Alice Oseman who wrote the Heartstopper books and is now writing the series. Before I knew it, I was crying, telling her how special it was to see this on screen. It often feels like every show that has queer representation is cancelled without giving it a chance to thrive, but I hope that Heartstopper proves how needed these stories are on our screens, libraries, schools, etc, to truly reflect the love in the world we live in.

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