Heartstopper creator Alice Oseman says the show made her realise she has ‘healing’ to do

Alice Oseman

Alice Oseman has said that working on Heartstopper and seeing how much queer joy it created, made her realise she still needs to heal from her upbringing.

In an interview alongside cast members, discussing the second series of the hit show – which premiered at the beginning of the month – author Oseman said her own youth was not filled with the joyful experiences witnessed in her book or the Netflix adaptation. 

“Working on Heartstopper constantly brings me back to my own teenage years, which were not exactly full of queer joy,” she told The Irish News

“Seeing how Heartstopper [help] so many queer teens is special and magical but has also helped me see that I’ve got some healing of my own to do.”

Heartstopper has gained fans around the world for its positive presentation of the queer experience, which comes from her exploring “realistic contemporary issues with a hopeful and optimistic lens”, Oseman, now 28, said. 

“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 OK in the end, and, no matter what someone might be going through, there are always pockets of joy to be had.

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“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 those things.”

Heartstopper Season 2
Kit Connor and Joe Locke bring hope, comfort and joy, according to Alice Oseman. (Netflix)

In the second series of the show, a portion of which takes place in Paris during a school trip, lovebirds Nick (Kit Conner) and Charlie (Joe Locke) navigate the former’s coming out as bisexual to his wider family and rugby friends and the struggles he faces while doing so – including the biphobic reaction of his older brother. 

In the wider friendship group, Elle, Tao, Isaac, Darcy and Tara spend the season navigating relationships, identities and the turbulence of being a teenager.

“At the heart of it, it’s still about Nick and Charlie,” Connor said. “He’s learned how to express his feelings towards Charlie and accept himself. Now he’s learning to be a good, supportive boyfriend.”

While the beginning of the second series starts with the pair feeling “super, super optimistic and hopeful about their relationship”, as it goes on, “it’s maybe not as easy as they thought it would be, to suddenly be as out and proud as they want to be”, the star added. 

Touching on the more mature tone of the latest series, Locke said: “I am excited for people to see that teenage relationships can be mature and open and communicative. All the characters are maturing. It’s fun to see and to grow with them.”

Both actors recalled being in the US when they were approached by a 56-year-old man who came out after watching the show. 

“[He] now has a boyfriend and is the happiest he’s ever been,” Locke revealed. “Reactions like that make you realise this is a show that really matters to people.”

Ncuti Gatwa and Yasmin Finney
Ncuti Gatwa and Yasmin Finney will appear in upcoming episodes of Doctor Who. (BBC/Yellow Belly)

Breakout star Yasmin Finney, who is set to become the new companion in Doctor Who, said: “I always pinch myself when I get DMs and I always respond to as many as I can. The main ones are: ‘I came out today’. They mark the date, they say that I’ve inspired them in some sort of way,” she said. 

“It’s like: ‘I came out today [thanks] to you’. Some even go to the extent [of saying]: ‘You saved my life’, which is just mental because I was that girl as well.”

Finney, who plays Elle in Heartstopper, continued: “It’s a pinch-me moment, this life, this wild moment, but I’m for ever grateful. 

“And I’m so grateful that I get to be that beacon of hope for people, because it is possible: you can do whatever you want in this life.”

Heartstopper series one and two are available to stream on Netflix now.