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‘Heartbreak High’ Review: The Second Season Does Not Live Up To Its Expectations

‘Heartbreak High’ Review: The Second Season Does Not Live Up To Its Expectations

Heartbreak High‘s first season ended with Harper and Amerie reconciling after sorting out their year-long differences. The reasons behind the misunderstandings were forgiven, and as they moved towards another year at Hartley High, plenty of old memories resurfaced that were painful and triggering at the same time. The second season of the show is all about the new route their friendship takes and if new romantic relationships are in cards for Amerie and Harper. Season two of this popular Australian Netflix original, Heartbreak High, was released on 11th April 2024, on the streaming platform.

Just like the first season, Heartbreak High has eight episodes this time around too, with forty- to fifty-minute-long episodes that are about the school kids and the details of their intimate lives. Season two again mirrors Sex Education and Sex and the City, shows in which the leads discuss the details of their romantic lives inside and outside of the bedroom and also focus on the friendships they form and sustain along the way. Season two begins with a fire that engulfs the school, and Principal Stacy wants to know if Harper and Amerie made it out alive. The show cuts to a few months before the arson, where Harper and Amerie are back to being best friends and are surrounded by their old gang: Darren, Quinni, Sasha, Missy, Malakai, and Spencer, among many other new characters. Amerie, this time around, was trying hard to be around Harper more and make sure she was available for all her mental health and school-related work. Somehow Amerie is made to believe she is a drama queen, which does no good to people who grow close to her. 

The term ‘Map Bitch’ had barely died down, and this caused her to come up with the idea of giving herself a new image by standing for the school captain elections. Along with Amerie, Sasha becomes a competitor who is a crowd favorite. Spencer joins the race with the encouragement of the new teacher, Timothy Voss, whose only aim is to restore the old-school toxic masculinity amongst the boys. Timothy feels young boys are unable to find a space to voice their concerns and exploits Spencer’s belief system to further push his agenda onto the school, horrifying the girls, Jojo and Principal Stacy. As the election campaign starts, one of the students begins a smear campaign against Amerie. Amidst all the chaos of the election campaign and all three wanting to hold the coveted spot in the school, a new student named Rowan became fast friends with Malakai and Amerie. Who orchestrated the hate campaign against Amerie? Was Harper finally allowing herself to be open to a relationship? Who were the two unusual people who became a couple in this year of school? Did Darren and Cash commit to one another? All these questions are answered while many new situations come up.

Season two is the victim of one too many subplots, and the writers had no clue how to give them a conclusion. Each subplot has many diversions, and they all drag on, which increases the running time of each episode. The editing team clearly didn’t put in much work because there was not a lot cut from the show in regards to the narrative. The subplot that captures the relationships between Amerie, Malakai, and Rowan is convoluted and goes back and forth multiple times. There is no definite route that this relationship takes, and it is infuriating to watch relationships such as these become tedious by the end of them. The feeling of love and loss is not felt as their arc in this season ends. 

The tiresome writing of the show is noticeable, and it reflects on each character’s ability to move forward. The same could be said about Harper’s newfound relationship with an unexpected person and Darren’s relationship with Cash. There is no graph given to them for the audience to recognize any progress made by them. Sadly, most of the relationships are not given enough material for the audience to feel invested in them. Only one relationship had a proper arc, and it seems the writers gave a lot of thought to Spencer and Missy. It is interesting to watch them go from disliking one another to wanting to genuinely work on themselves. Spencer’s character itself underwent a proper transformation, going from believing in toxic masculinity to wanting to change himself. Spencer as a character deserves to be lauded for his sensitive writing, which translated on screen very well. His character is very similar to Adam Groff’s in Sex Education.

Even though the show talks about bullying, toxic masculinity, abortion, obsession, the menstrual cycle, mental health, and people embracing changes, these were discussed only on a surface level. The depth and complexities of these subjects needed to be explored for the audience to feel the emotion felt by the character. The show most of the time is very over the top, and the intimate scenes are added only to titillate the audience. There is an incestuous trait in the relationships these characters share, which makes Heartbreak High unbearable at most times. Last season featured the leads’ their relationship dynamics with their families, but the second one hardly focused on the familial relationships. Only Cash and his bond with his grandmother are given some space to elevate the storytelling. 

There are key characters that are not given space on screen and paper, yet they are supposed to be the leads. Harper is hardly given anything to work on this season. The second season is solely focused on Amerie and her life’s trajectory during her time in school. Harper’s trauma, trial, and mental health concerns are barely touched upon by the writers. This should have been the focal point of Heartbreak High,  and not discussing these subjects is an injustice to Harper’s characters. Along with that, the new characters, Timothy Voss and Rowan, are hardly given any layers to work on. Timothy is presented as the villain with no proper backstory. Rowan becomes an important character suddenly in the second half of the show. Instead of giving space to Chook and Cash’s friction, understanding Rowan’s character should have been given more prominence. 

The direction of the show took a backseat, as it felt like the pacing was in autopilot mode and there was no end in sight. The ending, too, is flat and highly predictable. The makers of the show focused a lot on the makeup and clothes, which is why the screenplay is completely wafer-thin. Even though there is a lot in the show, it ends up being exhausting instead of enthralling. 

The ensemble cast does a good job, yet there is a tendency to over act at many junctures. Ayesh Madon as Amerie Wadia is over the top right from the start till the end. Her performance lacks empathy, even though she is presented as someone with shades of gray. Just like in the last season, Asher Yasbincek as Harper McLean is excellent, but sadly, she is not given enough material to work with. Thomas Weatherall as Malakai Mitchell and Chloe Hayden as Quinni Gallagher-Jones have given some memorable performances this season. The surprise addition is Angus Sampson as Timothy Voss; you need to watch the show to understand his contribution to making Heartbreak High somehow watchable.

This post first appeared on Film Fugitives, please read the originial post: here

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‘Heartbreak High’ Review: The Second Season Does Not Live Up To Its Expectations