When I saw the newest season of Heartstopper had premiered on Aug. 3, my heart stopped. It’s finally here! I was a huge fan of last season and thought Nick and Charlie were simply adorable, which inspired me to read the comic it was based on — and I quickly noticed a lot of differences between the Heartstopper books and the show.
You might not know that Nick and Charlie have a history going back to 2014 when Alice Oseman, the creator of the comic, published a book called Solitaire when they were 17. This book was written from the perspective of Charlie’s sister Tori and had Nick and Charlie as background characters, already in a relationship. Readers fell in love with them, however, so she began posting their story as a webcomic in 2016 and then publishing in 2018. The series is still ongoing with regular updates, and you can find them for free online on Webtoon.
Yet, after reading both the comic and watching the show, I noticed a lot of changes. Many of the sets are painstakingly detailed recreations of the comic, and some lines are ripped directly from it, but overall they are very different pieces of media. I wanted to see what was kept and what was changed for Season 2, and if those changes make it better. Spoiler warning: Spoilers for Heartstopper Season 2 follow.
- Ben and Imogen’s Relationship
Show: In an attempt to rebound from Nick, Imogen decides to pursue Ben, who she doesn’t know is also Charlie’s ex. Nick is torn, wondering if he should warn her about his abusive tendencies, but the fact Ben isn’t out yet makes it infinitely more complicated. Then, in one of the most satisfying moments of the season, Imogen publicly dumps him for barely showing any interest in her… Wonder why that is?
Book: Imogen wasn’t in the original graphic novel, but that being said, I think her addition adds a lot of charm, and her support of Nick was really amazing to see. Ben is in the books, but his character wasn’t on the Paris trip like in the show.
- Elle’s Art School Storyline
Show: Elle’s application to art college was one of the biggest conflicts this season. She’s offered a spot at a school in London, even invited to exhibit her work for a queer art exhibition, but she doesn’t want to leave her friends and new boyfriend, Tao, behind.
Book: In the book, Elle doesn’t apply to art college and stays at Higgs.
- Darcy’s Parents
Show: One of the most poignant storylines was between Darcy and her family, who aren’t accepting of her queerness. She runs away after her mother chastises her for her choice to go to prom in a suit, but is eventually found by Tara.
Book: Darcy doesn’t run away from the prom. In fact, Darcy’s family is never explicitly shown in the books and overall, she’s a much smaller character. They aren’t referenced until Heartstopper Volume 4 (most of this season focuses on Volume 3), in a conversation between Nick and Tara, where she tells him, “They’re horrible people,” but it’s never brought up again.
Show: This season’s finale took place at prom. Nick and Charlie make their first big public appearance as a couple, Darcy is vulnerable with Tara about her disapproving family, and Elle finalizes her decision to attend art school.
Book: There isn’t a prom in any of the books, but Volume 3 ends with Nick googling “eating disorders” after his mom picks him up from the Paris trip.
- Isaac’s Storyline
Show: During Tara’s birthday party, Isaac sneaks off with a boy to have his first kiss, but it doesn’t go well. Throughout the season, he goes on to discover what asexuality is and eventually identifies with it.
Book: There is no Isaac in the books, but he’s very closely based on another character named Aled. You may think of him as a side character to Nick and Charlie; he has his own series that was published before Heartstopper. Aled is one of two protagonists in Radio Silence, a novel Oseman published in 2016. In it, he has a boyfriend named Daniel, with whom he’s on and off. Its plot has little, if anything, to do with Heartstopper. It revolves around him and another girl, Frances, deciding where to go to university and working on a podcast together.
- Imogen and Sahar’s History
Show: Sahar, a new edition to the cast this season, shares a room with Tara, Darcy, and Elle. During Tara’s party, she tells the group that she used to be friends with her before Imogen got a boyfriend, and she “stopped texting her.” When Imogen tells her she’s grateful to no longer be the token straight, Sahar tells her she is actually bisexual before storming off, and Imogen follows. Could this be hinting at a future *something* between these two?
Book: In the book, Sahar shares a hotel room with the girls and is eventually adopted into the friend group. She later becomes good friends with Nick when she transfers to Truham the next year. Since Imogen isn’t in the books, they don’t have any history.
Overall though, the second season stays pretty true to the book. With an entire season to fill, they needed to add or alter storylines to fill the run time. It also gave us some of the season’s best moments and let us get to know many of the side characters more deeply. I can’t wait for Season 3!