Heartstopper Season 2 Gets Navigating Queerness In Adulthood Right

This story contains spoilers for Heartstopper.

Last year, Heartstopper made headlines for being an incredible celebration of queer youth and joy. In its second season, the series expands on this theme by letting adults in on the fun while also giving audiences a deeper look into what celebrating queerness looks like for all ages.

Where the first season was essential in reminding audiences that queer experiences are not inherently adult, the sophomore season reminds us that first queer experiences are not limited to the youth. This plays out in an incredible arc given to Mr. Farouk (Nima Taleghani), a new scary-but-sweet teacher that joins the cast this season.

In his introduction, we’re immediately intimidated by Mr. Farouk and the way he yells at his kids. But, although he commands respect with his stern teaching persona, Mr. Farouk is more than a raging authority figure. When he and Mr. Ajayi (Fisayo Akinade) end up sharing a room on the school trip to Paris, we get to see the hint of a spark between the two of them. In an adorable meet cute of a moment, Mr. Farouk explains, “when you don’t figure out you’re gay until your late-twenties, you tend to miss out on those beautiful, gay teenage experiences. Probably a bit late for me to have any youthful moments of discovery.” It’s a beautiful expression of vulnerability from an older gay adult, to which Mr. Ajayi replies, “I don’t think there’s an age limit on those.”

It’s a remarkable reminder that there’s always a chance for your first queer love. After all, not all of us got the opportunities to explore the wide spectrum of sexuality in our youth. Whether that was because we were raised in households that made us think straight was the only way to exist, or we simply never realized or had a queer attraction until adulthood, those youthful moments of discovery simply never came. Frankly, Mr. Farouk’s experience isn’t uncommon. We’re still moving away from heteronormative societal pressure that’s prevented people from exploring their sexuality for fear of being rebuked or punished. But, as the needle moves towards more open acceptance of LGBTQIA+ identities, those who grew up thinking it was bad to be openly gay are finally getting a chance to explore what that means. Mr. Ajayi’s response to Mr. Farouk is a reminder to everyone who watched the first season thinking they may have missed something, because those moments of discovery can come at any age.

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Last season was all about getting up the courage to ask out your crush, but this season revolves around the idea of what coming out looks like when you’re allowed to do so at your own pace, regardless of age. By expanding the cast of adults in the series, the show accomplishes something incredible: It reminds us that unconditional love and safe spaces are critical to growth, regardless of sexuality.

Coming out to your parents is one of the most terrifying, anxiety-inducing things any young person has to face. Last season, Nick came out to his mother (the impeccable Olivia Colman) in one of the most touching scenes of the series, cementing the show’s intentions to never let the other shoe drop. This season, Nick has a much harder challenge when it comes to coming out to his dad, Stephane (Thibault de Montalembert), who’s the kind of father that doesn’t put in enough effort to know where his kids are traveling to, or interact with them at all. And although his jerk of a brother, David (Jack Barton), forces Nick to come out to Stephane at an awkward family dinner, it turns out to be not as big a deal as it could’ve been.

Through all of this, Nick (and the audience) also get to meet Charlie’s parents for the first time, who also prove to be the kind of parents a lot of us wish we had. Although we’re scared for Nick and Charlie when Charlie’s parents tell them they can’t see each other, the series continues its trend of the other shoe never dropping. Charlie’s parents don’t care that he’s gay, they care that this new relationship is making him avoid his studies and not do his work.

These adults are perfect examples of what it’s like to have a set of parents that treat their queer kids like any other straight couple. There’s never a quibble about whether or not their relationship is appropriate, and they’re never made to be othered because of their sexuality. This idyllic parenting style is juxtaposed perfectly when we get to meet Darcy’s (Ziggy Edgell) dark cloud of a mother, who we briefly see in the finale out of sheer necessity.

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There’s a certain brilliance to the way that Oseman refuses to show us what is behind Darcy’s door early on in the season, not letting us into her life because we all already know what’s going on. Not only is there an abundance of stories available that tell us what living in that house is like, but many of us lived in (or still do live) in places like that. Heartstopper, once again, emphasizes queer joy, what parenting young LGBTQIA+ kids looks like when it’s done right, and leaving the horrors of the negative experiences many face in the background to be acknowledged but never centered.

Early on in the season, Nick and Charlie get caught making out by Coach Singh (Chetna Pandya), which leads to a meeting between her and Nick. Likely terrified out of his mind, Nick’s anxiety drops when Coach Singh reveals to him she went through similar experiences coming out to her girl’s rugby team at school. This familiar bond of having to come out to your teammates immediately releases any sort of tension that Nick felt, and instead of making him feel like he was hiding something, she asserts that he doesn’t owe them that information. It’s an assertion that’s repeated multiple times this season, by multiple characters, driving home how incredibly important this messaging is for LGBTQIA+ youth. For kids in sports, having to come out to your team can be one of the hardest things you have to do, and this is a pivotal moment for Nick’s journey.

By providing Nick with safety in the locker room, and reminding him that his private life isn’t his teammates business, Coach Singh reminds viewers of that, too. This, combined with the fact that Mr. Ajayi and Mr. Farouk let the kids be themselves on their school trip to Paris, mean that these kids are living any queer kid’s dream at school: Having teachers that not only understand you, but make sure that you’re given moments to shine as you are without fear of being punished. It’s one thing to know your friends have your back, but it’s another entirely to know that your teachers do, too. Collectively, these teachers make Truman Grammar School one of the safest, most welcoming environments for queer kids we’ve ever seen on television.

As a whole, Heartstopper’s second season is a masterclass in teaching adults how to embrace queerness from all sides, whether they’re LGBTQIA+ or not. Some of us might’ve missed out on what these kids have, but we still have plenty of opportunities to both be our authentic selves and help create a safer tomorrow for queer youth. By reminding us the power of unconditional love and acceptance, Heartstopper has shown us how to take care of the next generation so that they can have a journey as magical as Nick, Charlie, and all their friends.

https://www.ign.com/articles/heartstopper-season-2-gets-navigating-queerness-in-adulthood-right Heartstopper Season 2 Gets Navigating Queerness In Adulthood Right

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