Love, Victor follows a Latinx teen who transfers to Creekwood High School in Atlanta, GA. This was the setting for Becky Albertalli’s Creekwood novels and Greg Berlanti’s 2018 film Love, Simon. Simon was embraced by friends and family after being outed as gay. He’s since graduated. Victor’s unsure of his sexuality and fears he won’t find the same level of support.
The series was commissioned for Disney+. Executives got scared and transferred it to Hulu, where it debuted on June 17, 2020. The resulting show is a mix of sad family drama and goofy teen comedy. There’s a sprinkling of non-threatening gay stuff around the edges. It’s franker than Disney’s Andi Mack or High School Musical but tame next to the teen soaps on Netflix.
I enjoyed Love, Victor. But not for the reasons I expected to.
“Screw you [Simon] for having the world’s most perfect, accepting parents. The world’s most supportive friends. Because for some of us, it’s not that easy.”Love Victor
Michael Cimino is likable in the title role. At first, he seems blandly affable. Then he begins to assert himself. He’ll stand up to bullies but throw friends under the bus to protect his popularity. This moral ambiguity gives him an interesting character arc.
The Family Storyline. Ana Ortiz and James Martinez carry the drama as Victor’s unhappy parents. Their apartment is huge and they rarely go to church but they convince as working-class religious conservatives. Victor’s sister (Isabella Ferreira) is a bundle of rage and his kid brother’s (Mateo Fernandez) a joke machine. This leaves Victor the role of people pleaser. It’s up to him to swallow his feelings and keep everyone happy. He can diffuse arguments, listen to problems and even cook breakfast. Anyone who ever played the “golden child” will find these scenes hold the highest stakes.
The Coming Out Storyline. Victor can’t open up to family so he begins writing Love, Simon’s protagonist. Nick Robinson returns to the role as a voice over, responding to Victor’s daily barrage of texts. Their friendship grows more interesting as Victor gains confidence. Eventually he’ll meet more LGBT characters. Sadly, the show can’t wait to get away from them. It would rather spend time with Victor’s straight class mates.
What’s Not There Yet
The Wacky Straight Friends. The needy clown (lovable Anthony Turpel) likes the rude diva (Bebe Woods spouting terrible dialogue). She likes the jerk jock (24 year old Mason Gooding, looking like someone’s uncle) who’s pursuing the cool artist (MVP Rachel Hilson). The artist is dating Victor. These archetypes go exactly where you’d expect and the writers can’t get enough of them. Even when Victor’s on a trip the camera returns to their predictable Breakfast Club antics.
Representation. Victor can’t stop thinking of the underwritten gay barista (flirty George Sear). But he spends most of his time with his girlfriend. I assume the Disney censors were happy to let them make out if it would keep him from kissing boys. This relationship may ring true to any gay boy who tried to convince themselves they were something else. It will frustrate those looking for genuine bi or pan representation.
Victor reads the words bisexual and pansexual on a computer screen. He’s too timid to say them out loud. You won’t hear the words lesbian, transgender, questioning, asexual, biromantic or internalized homophobia either. I hope the writers utilize their Hulu freedom in Season Two.
I’m glad Love, Victor exists. It’s good but there’s potential for it to be great. Getting there will require a little courage.
Odds and Ends
- Favorite Episodes? Five and Eight.
- Blandest Episode? Two.
- The pop culture references will date this show quickly.
- The trailers spoil moments from the final episodes.
- There’s more profanity than I expected.
- The teachers act inappropriately at Creekwood High. To be fair, they’re not much older than the students.
- Victor and his sister are subjected to classist and racist remarks in the first episode. This thread vanishes by episode two. Was it too intense for Disney?
- Victor’s girlfriend gets a subplot with her family that quietly upstages her peers. Rachel Hilson is going places.
- Lukas Gage plays a gay man whom we’re meant to dislike. This is particularly amusing if you saw him in Hulu’s gay horror movie Midnight Kiss.
- The series ignores the events of the sequel novel, Leah on the Off Beat.
- The focus on Victor’s relationship with his girlfriend reminds me of 2018’s Alex Strangelove.
- Skam remains my favorite teen series. Each season focuses on a different character with season three built around the closeted Isak.
- I predict fans will ship Victor with his clingy straight friend Felix. He’s got more personality than the gay barista.
My first Avocado article featured Love, Simon. It feels appropriate to write about Love, Victor on my two-year anniversary. Will you be watching? If so, please share your (spoiler tagged) thoughts.
For more reviews of LGBT+ media click here.