Back when the trailer came out for Love, Victor, the spinoff TV show from Love, Simon, I wondered how the show’s creators planned to differentiate the show from the movie. Yesterday, the first season of the show was released on Hulu, and it’s not what I was expecting. But that’s a good thing.
Although I was admittedly excited for the show, I didn’t think I would be this hooked. Truly OBSESSED. Love, Victor is charming, funny, and it knows how to balance heartfelt scenes with lighthearted moments. I had only planned to watch a couple of episodes yesterday but ended up watching almost until midnight. On a school night! The story is strong, the characters are well written, and the cast has great chemistry. Michael Cimino does a great job in the lead role, though the scene is often stolen by his quirky friend, Felix (Anthony Turpel). Along with the rest of the cast, they manage to portray teen awkwardness with enough subtlety to feel real, but not so much as to make you physically cringe while watching.
It all just feels really authentic. From the constant questions about girlfriends to the microaggressions you hear in the locker room, the show is representative of what it feels like to struggle with your sexuality. There’s one part at the beginning of the second episode where Victor dreams about kissing a boy on a Ferris wheel (like Simon), but the crowd boos and shouts at him instead of cheering. It’s irrational sure, but those thoughts do happen!
***Minor spoilers for Love, Victor below. (If you want, go binge it and then come back!!!! Or hopefully you’re going to watch now that you’ve read this.)***
There’s also a twist in this version of the story. In Love, Simon, the movie starts off on the premise that Simon is only attracted to boys; he’s just not sure how to tell everyone. But that’s not the first step: people usually have to come to that conclusion. In that process, there’s a lot of questioning and exploration. I bet that a ton of people have taken the “am I gay?” or “am I bisexual?” quiz. I did. All they did was ask my virgin ass is whether I had more sex with girls or guys, and I was like, I FEEL LIKE I WOULD KNOW AT THAT POINT! But I digress.
In Love, Victor, that premise isn’t quite there, even if the viewer assumes it is. It’s the hook. What if Simon wasn’t sure he was gay? What if he thought he was bisexual? What if he wasn’t even sure what to call it?
In today’s world, that’s a story that younger audiences need to hear. There are a lot of kids who are scared to come out and who aren’t sure what the world will look like after they do. But there are a bunch more who aren’t even sure who they are or what they would come out as. Love, Victor is a story for them. And it’s a story that we don’t tell enough, especially to this demographic.
Vanity Fair wrote a review about Love, Victor, and stated that its biggest shortcoming wasn’t even its own fault. “The exciting thing about Love, Victor was that it was going to be on Disney+, firmly identified as a Disney product. It was an opportunity for the studio to make up for the embarrassment of proudly touting scraps like the “exclusively gay moment” in the Beauty and the Beast remake by actually centering a narrative on queer experience.”
As I mentioned earlier, the show was moved allegedly because it explored themes of alcohol use, sexual exploration, and marital issues. And yes, it does. But that’s also because that’s what kids deal with! They find out about marital troubles. They go on dates and to parties. But in this universe, Victor has a role model and a confidante who tries to keep him on the right track. It’s a support system that helps Victor feel like he isn’t alone. A lot of schools probably don’t have a Simon. But everyone can have access to this show. Perhaps that’s why it’s so disheartening that the show was pulled from Disney+. Imagine the lives it could change on a platform of that scale.