“As a writer, it’s magical to know that something you’ve written has had a profound impact on someone’s life,” says Alice Oseman, the creator and writer of the heartwarming Netflix series Heartstopper. “I’m always so happy to hear that it has helped anyone on their own journey, whether that’s a young person hoping to come out themselves, or a parent who is unsure how to support their child, or anyone else who connected to the scene for whatever reason.”
“The reception to Heartstopper was huge and completely unexpected, and the number of people reading (and now watching!) my stories around the world has increased by a mind-boggling amount. It’s incredible to see how much the community of readers has blossomed,” says Oseman, who wanted to “explore realistic contemporary issues with a hopeful and optimistic lens.”
“I think that is what people like about Heartstopper more than anything. It feels like it could be real, but with the comfort and knowledge that everything is going to be okay in the end, and no matter what someone might be going through, there are always pockets of joy to be found. I think this is particularly
comforting to the queer community. We want to see our struggles represented accurately in the media,
but we also often want media that makes us feel hopeful, comforted, and happy, and I like to think
Heartstopper does both those things.”
Season 1: Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. When gentle Charlie and rugby-loving Nick meet at secondary school, they quickly discover that their unlikely friendship is blossoming into an unexpected romance. Charlie, Nick and their circle of friends must navigate the ever-relatable journey of self-discovery and acceptance, supporting each other as they learn to find their most authentic selves.
Season 2: Nick and Charlie navigate their new relationship; Tara and Darcy face unforeseen challenges and Tao and Elle work out if they can ever be more than just friends. With exams on the horizon, a school trip to Paris and a prom to plan, the gang has a lot to juggle as they journey through the next stages of life, love and friendship.
Crafting Season 2
“Writing a sequel or second anything is never easy – I’ve been there many times – but this particular sequel feels more pressured than anything I’ve ever worked on before due to the sheer numbers of people who will be tuning in. I hate disappointing anyone, all I could do was write, to the best of my ability, a story that I love.”
Oseman wanted each season of Heartstopper to “feel like an evolution, to tackle new ideas and themes, and for us to see the characters changing and growing, while also preserving the hopeful heart of Heartstopper. In season two, the characters are all maturing in their romances, their identities, and their outlooks on life and the future. They all feel a little older and wiser, and with that comes a whole host of new experiences and emotions.”
“While season one followed a typical romance story structure, season two takes a deeper look into teen relationships of various stages and sees the characters begin to explore more complex emotional truths about themselves and each other. I hope viewers will be pleasantly surprised by some of the paths that these relationships take as the characters get to know each other and themselves on a much deeper level.”
Heartopper 2 does not only focus on teenagers but also introduces Queer teachers.
“Due to Section 28, which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” in UK schools, queer teachers
couldn’t be open about their identities, or they’d risk losing their jobs. Section 28 was only repealed in
England in 2003 (though an adapted form of it remained in practice in Kent – where the Heartstopper
comics are set – until 2010),” says Oseman.
“Seeing queer teachers on screen, with that history in mind, is radical and revolutionary. The concept of queer teens being able to reach out to queer teachers for guidance and advice feels almost utopian even to someone of my age, who was still in school a mere decade ago. But hopefully, teachers like Mr Ajayi and Mr Farouk are becoming more and more commonplace in schools today.”
“One of the great things about the adaptation having more time than a comic book is that in the comics,
it’s basically just Nick and Charlie’s relationship that is focused on. You have more time when you do a
TV series, so Alice has been able to open up the stories of the other characters here, which is really
great, because queerness isn’t just one binary. You don’t have to just be one thing. We see a lot of gay
male relationships in media compared to other relationships, so it’s great that we can share those other
types as well,” says Joe Locke who plays Charlie Spring.
“One of the really powerful things about Heartstopper is that it is a voice for a lot of people,” says Kit Connor, who plays Nick Nelson. “We’re not claiming to be educational or anything like that. But we do try and teach people that no matter what, it’s okay. It’s okay to not know, and it’s okay to explore and it’s okay to work things out. You’ll get there. It’s going to be the best thing ever when you do.”
Says Nelson: “With Heartstopper, a lot of people were crying by the end, but they were happy crying. Whereas for most queer media you watched before Heartstopper, you were crying because someone had died or something like that. It was just really depressing and overbearing and important, but I think we were in a time — and I think we still are in a time — where there’s a lot on that side and there’s nothing on the other end where you just see queer people being happy, doing mundane things, and just living their life. That’s really what we’re going for.”
“Working on Heartstopper constantly brings me back to my own teenage years, which were not exactly
full of queer joy,” says Oseman. “Seeing how Heartstopper has helped so many queer teens is so special and magical but has also helped me see that I’ve got some healing of my own to do.”
“We need all kinds of queer stories: joyful stories, tragic stories, sexy stories, dark stories, silly stories… I could go on. Joyful stories are absolutely needed – queer people need to see that they can find happiness, friendship, love, and peace, despite the struggles they may be facing in their daily lives. But I don’t want that to discredit the need for all kinds of other queer stories! There can be no light without dark.”
“Because queer friendships exist and are actually very common! Often queer people are mostly friends
with other queer people, and so this is what happens in Heartstopper. I love hearing stories about
people who’ve grown up, realised that they’re queer, and suddenly all their friends start coming out as
queer too. Queer people are just drawn to each other! It’s also always a good thing to show a variety of
queer experiences because being queer is certainly not the same for everyone. While one TV show
could never show every queer experience out there, I think showing multiple helps people to feel that
there’s no ‘right’ way to be queer.”