How the Paris trip in Season 2 of Netflix’s ‘Heartstopper’ compares to the graphic novels

Fans of the “Heartstopper” comics have been buzzing about Paris since Season 1 of the Netflix series based on the comics came out last year.

The hit British coming-of-age series, based on Alice Oseman’s web comic and graphic novels, centers on Charlie Spring, a timid year 10 student who falls for his classmate, school rugby star Nick Nelson — whom Charlie at first believes is straight. In Season 1, which spans the first two volumes of the graphic novels, the two boys become fast friends, then more, causing Nick to question his sexuality. By the season finale, Charlie and Nick are in a happy but still mostly secret relationship.

Season 2 captures the events of “Heartstopper, Volume 3” — most of which unfold on a class trip to Paris. The trip is a pivotal point in the novels; Charlie’s eating disorder comes into focus for the first time, Nick reveals his fraught relationship with his father, and several new couples emerge.

But the Paris trip fans see in Season 2 of the Netflix series isn’t the same one readers first saw in “Heartstopper, Volume 3.”

In previous interviews, Oseman has said that she intended to stay true to the graphic novels for the TV adaptation of “Heartstopper,” even blocking specific scenes so they mirrored the original comic panels. But she’s also created new storylines that expand upon the comic, like Season 1’s Truham-Higgs Sports Day, where Nick abandons a rugby game to confess his feelings to Charlie, and added new characters, like Imogen and Isaac.

Season 2 takes similar creative liberties — Ben and Imogen have a short stint as a couple, Elle seeks acceptance at a prestigious art school and Isaac explores his sexual identity.

However, some changes are not so drastic. Occasionally, Oseman just barely alters a scene from the original comics, giving it a slightly different tone or shifting its emotional impact. Here are some scenes from Season 2, where they stay true to the source material and where they stray from it.

Episode 4: Charlie and Tara on the steps of Sacré Coeur

Tara in a purple shirt and jacket looks up at Darcy who is in a tie-dye hoodie.

Tara (Corrina Brown), left, and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell) in “Heartstopper.”

(Teddy Cavendish / Netflix)

Stayed: On their second day in the City of Love, “the Paris squad” — Nick, Charlie and their other friends from Higgs and Truham — perch on the steps of Sacré Coeur. While Darcy leads most of the group on a brief hunt for ice cream, Charlie and Tara hang behind, discussing their relationships. Tara jokes about Nick’s obvious infatuation with Charlie, and Charlie admits he envies Darcy and Tara for being out as a couple.

Strayed: Onscreen, the scene includes a flashback of Darcy consoling Tara, who is anxious about a big ballet performance.

“You’re gonna be great, and even if you’re not great, I’ll still think you’re great because I always think you’re great,” Darcy tells her. Flecks of animated snow — the doodles are a motif throughout the series — intermingle with real snowflakes as Tara kisses Darcy.

The flashback interrupts Tara as she tells Charlie that although it was difficult coming out, eventually she and Darcy stopped caring about other people’s opinions.

“We just realized,” she says, trailing off into the flashback at the ballet. “Me and her were all that mattered,” she finishes. It’s a sweet peek into the early stages of Darcy and Tara’s relationship, which we don’t get much of in the “Heartstopper” graphic novels, and a chance to revel in the magic of the show’s animation.

Episode 5: Elle finally kisses Tao

A young woman looks at a young man as they walk down a street.

Elle (Yasmin Finney), left, and Tao (William Gao) in Season 2 of “Heartstopper.”

(Netflix)

Stayed: As with Darcy and Tara, we see more of the development of Elle and Tao‘s relationship onscreen. In both the series and the novels, they share their first kiss while gazing out a window at the Louvre — a place that marries Tao’s infatuation with cinema and Elle’s interest in art. Elle initiates, then Tao reciprocates.

Strayed: What makes this moment richer in the show is the conversation that precedes it — a rare one, between Elle and Nick. After Nick catches Elle studying a particular painting, he admits he’s not sure he understands the artwork. She reassures him that he doesn’t have to understand it to enjoy it.

“Guess that’s true of real life too,” he replies. “You don’t have to understand your feelings completely to know you like something. You don’t have to always have figured everything out. You can just — feel.”

Elle turns around, grabs Tao’s hand and leads him away. When he asks where they’re going, she says, “No idea.”

Emboldened by Nick’s uncharacteristically profound statement, Elle finally makes a move on Tao, and though she immediately panics, they end up kissing several more times, their long-repressed chemistry exploding in a burst of classic romance tropes — Tao holds Elle’s face and Elle kicks her leg back. The scene is a more satisfying end than the few, wordless panels Elle and Tao get in the original comics.

Episode 5: Nick meets with his dad

A middle-aged man smiles at two young men facing him

Stephane Nelson (Thibault de Montalember) is Nick’s dad, whom we see in the Netflix series.

(Netflix)

Stayed: While at the Louvre, Nick calls his dad, who lives in Paris, to meet up. Charlie swoons listening to Nick’s French, so Nick throws him a cheesy but charming “Mon amour.” Nick never mentioned his father before and explains to Charlie that his dad hasn’t been involved in his life for a long time but that he still hoped to see him while in Paris.

Strayed: In the books, Nick’s dad tells him over the phone that he can’t meet because he’s too busy with work. In the show, however, Charlie and Nick run — in a sequence that mirrors their race upstairs before their first kiss in Season 1 — to meet Nick’s dad at a cafe, where he stays for a few minutes, pays for the boys’ coffees and promptly leaves for an unspecified reason.

Excitement quickly turned to disappointment, and Nick tells Charlie,“He just doesn’t know me.” The onscreen sequence is more heart-wrenching because viewers, like Nick, hope his father will redeem himself — only to watch him hurt Nick again.

Episode 6: Charlie stands up to Harry

Stayed: On the last night of the Paris trip, Darcy throws Tara a birthday bash, which is interrupted when Harry, Nick’s ex-friend and one of Charlie’s frequent tormentors, shows up. When Tara denies Harry entry, he apologizes halfheartedly to Charlie and Nick for his past behavior in the hopes of changing Tara’s mind. Harry admits to having said some homophobic things in the past but claims he knows better now.

Strayed: In the books, Charlie lectures Harry about feeling entitled to his forgiveness before shutting the door in his face; in the show, Charlie delivers more of a mic drop than a monologue. There is no “One ‘sorry’ doesn’t make up for all the things you said,” or “It’s not my job to give you a gold star.” Instead, when Harry asks if he can come in, Charlie responds with a quick “no” and slams the door.

It’s a less nuanced scene than in the novels, where Harry also explains that his family is pretty homophobic, suggesting his behavior was learned. While it’s no excuse, it does complicate Harry’s character by making him a passive participant in institutionalized homophobia versus an inherently mean person.

But Oseman has suggested the show is not interested in any redemption for bullies.

Similar to Harry, Charlie’s abusive ex-boyfriend Ben was not given a redemption arc intentionally. In an interview with Netflix’s Tudum, Oseman said it would have been “needlessly cruel” to force Charlie to forgive Ben, no matter his potential to change.

“Ben can become a better person, but Charlie should not have to witness that, endorse it or offer any forgiveness. And so he won’t,” Oseman said. The same seems true for Harry.

Episode 6: Darcy declares her love for Tara

Darcy and Tara, both in school uniforms of gray jackets and red ties, look at one another.

Darcy (Kizzy Edgell), left, and Tara (Corinna Brown) finally say “I love you” in Episode 6.

(Samuel Dore / Netflix)

Stayed: On the same night as Charlie’s confrontation with Harry, Darcy drinks herself sick, throwing up on Mr. Ajayi’s bed and leading to Mr. Ajayi and Mr. Farouk sharing a bed. In the aftermath, Darcy cries to Tara in the bathroom, apologizing for ruining her birthday.

Strayed: In the show, this scene is critical to Darcy and Tara’s relationship development. In the book, Tara is the one who says “I love you,” but in the series, it’s reversed — Darcy tells Tara she loves her for the first time, and insists she means it despite being drunk. She also cries to Tara, “I have to be perfect for you,” a line that touches on her family issues and self-esteem, which are explored throughout Season 2. For example, at the end of Episode 7, Darcy’s mother scolds her for wearing a suit, then kicks her out of the house when Darcy refuses to take it off. Darcy believes she’s not good enough for anyone, including Tara.

In the “Heartstopper” comics, Darcy and Tara are the ideal couple, which Charlie wants to achieve with Nick. But this scene brings more depth to the girls’ relationship.

“In the comics, especially, Darcy and Tara are the perfect couple. They’re together, they’re solid, they don’t really have any issues,” Oseman said in another interview. But “things aren’t always perfect,” and that’s what makes this scene all the more beautiful.

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