High School Mightn't Be Easy, But Binge-Watching Your Way Through 'Heartbreak High' Season Two Is

Netflix's revival of the hit 90s Aussie TV series is back for a second spin — and this new whirlwind of teen chaos is just as engaging.
Sarah Ward
Published on April 11, 2024

When Heartbreak High returned in 2022, the Sydney-set series benefited from a fact that's helped Degrassi, Beverly Hills, 90210Saved by the Bell and Gossip Girl all make comebacks, too: years pass, trends come and go, but teen awkwardness and chaos is eternal. In its second season, Netflix's revival of an Australian favourite that first aired between 1994–99 embraces the same idea. It's a new term at Hartley High, one that'll culminate in the rite of passage that is the Year 11 formal. Amerie (Ayesha Madon, Love Me) might be certain that she can change after the events of season one — doing so is her entire platform for running for school captain — but waiting for adulthood to start never stops being a whirlwind.

Streaming from Thursday, April 11 and proving as easy to binge as its predecessor, Heartbreak High 2.0's eight-episode second season reassembles the bulk of the gang that audiences were initially introduced to two years ago. Moving forward, onwards and upwards is everyone's planned path — en route to that dance, which gives the new batch of instalments its flashforward opening. The evening brings fire, literally. Among the regular crew, a few faces are missing in the aftermath. The show then rewinds to two months earlier, to post-holiday reunions, old worries resurfacing, new faces making an appearance and, giving the season a whodunnit spin as well, to a mystery figure taunting and publicly shaming Amerie. The latter begins their reign of terror with a dead animal; Bird Psycho is soon the unknown culprit's nickname.

Leaders, creepers, slipping between the sheets: that's Heartbreak High's second streaming go-around in a nutshell. The battle to rule the school is a three-person race, pitting Amerie against Sasha (Gemma Chua-Tran, Mustangs FC) and Spider (Bryn Chapman Parish, Mr Inbetween) — one as progressive as Hartley, which already earns that label heartily, can get; the other season one's poster boy for jerkiness, toxicity and entitlement. Heightening the electoral showdown is a curriculum clash, with the SLT class introduced by Jojo Obah (Chika Ikogwe, The Tourist) last term as a mandatory response to the grade's behaviour questioned by Head of PE Timothy Voss (Angus Sampson, Bump). A new faculty member for the show, he's anti-everything that he deems a threat to traditional notions of masculinity. In Spider, Ant (Brodie Townsend, Significant Others) and others, he quickly has followers. Their name, even adorning t-shirts: CUMLORDS.

Only on Heartbreak High — or on Sex Education, which it continues to resemble — can a faceoff between SLTs (aka sluts) and CUMLORDS fuel a season-long narrative. For Bird Psycho's campaign against Amerie, the warring factions also provide a handy backdrop, as well as a distraction that has most of the school looking the other way. But Quinni (Chloe Hayden, Spooky Files), who is running for vice captain, is determined to work out who's masterminding the vehement vendetta. Almost everyone is a suspect, especially after an attack comes during the grade's annual camp — well, nearly everyone among the dozen-ish Hartley students that earn the series' focus.

The season's romantic threads also push Amerie to the fore, rekindling her romance with last term's newcomer Malakai (Thomas Weatherall, RFDS) until Dubbo export Rowan (Sam Rechner, The Fabelmans), the latest arrival, gets a love triangle burning. Darren (James Majoos) and Ca$h's (Will McDonald, Blaze) relationship has roadblocks to overcome, such as jail and libidos at vastly different speeds. Missy (Sherry-Lee Watson), Sasha's ex, finds herself attracted to someone that she'd never expect. Zoe (Kartanya Maynard, Deadloch), another of season two's additions, spearheads a Puriteen movement that advocates celibacy. As she pieces her life back together after grappling with some of the show's heaviest past storylines, Amerie's best friend Harper (Asher Yasbincek, How to Please a Woman) now has Ant pining over her.

Hartley's principal Woodsy (Rachel House, Our Flag Means Death), plus Ca$h's nan (Maggie Dence, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart) and criminal pal Chook (Tom Wilson, Last King of the Cross), round out the season's key players, on a character list that's as jam-packed as the antics filling the series' frames. Heartbreak High is in its lean-in era, where nothing is off the table. Drug-induced declarations, sex in school stairwells, pregnancy and abortion storylines, surprise redemptions, stalkers, childhood traumas, moving out of home, the utter cartoonishness of Voss (who dubs the school a "woke snowflake nightmare", and is the least successful element in the new episodes), busting out the Nutbush: they're all included, as is dancing from OTT to earnest and silly to serious.

For creator Hannah Carroll Chapman (The Heights), who is behind the show's 2020s comeback — and also for her writers (Paper Dolls' Marieke Hardy, Sara Khan and Thomas Wilson-White; Safe Home's Jean Tong; Totally Completely Fine's Keir Wilkins; and The Heights' Megan Palinkas) and directors (Seriously Red's Gracie Otto, Mother and Son's Neil Sharma, and Why Are You Like This duo Jessie Oldfield and Adam Murfet) this time around — there's meaning in the season's tonal rollercoaster. Whether skewing light or heavy, entertainingly riffing on Rage or charting the constant quest to work our who you are that everyone endures in their teen years, or bringing Euphoria or the OG Heartbreak High to mind, all of the series' pinballing around explores a formative time when everything keeps seesawing and swinging by intentionally mirroring it.

As was true during its debut Netflix stint to awards, acclaim and worldwide viewership, not to mention three decades back when 1993 movie The Heartbreak Kid sparked Heartbreak High to begin with, an excellent cast can ride every up and down that the show throws their characters' ways. Weatherall, Yasbincek and McDonald continue their thoughtful and layered portrayals of Malakai, Harper and Ca$h from 2022. Watson and Chapman Parish benefit from meatier storylines and deeper dives into Missy and Spider. Madon, Majoos and Hayden give Amerie, Darren and Quinni walk-right-off-the-screen energy. Rechner makes a meaningful imprint as Rowan, who is never a one-note enigmatic outsider. Investing in them, just like bingeing Heartbreak High season two, is always something that secondary schooling never is no matter what decade you're hitting the books, then the parties: easy.

Check out the trailer for Heartbreak High's second season below:

Heartbreak High season two streams via Netflix from Thursday, April 11, 2024. Read our review of season one.

Images: Netflix.

Published on April 11, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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