“Sometimes it’s easier to plaster on a smile, and let people see what they want.”
The series follow up to Love, Simon had quite the shoes to fill. It had to be as likable but different at the same time. In many ways it succeeded and, in some cases, expanded on what the movie started.
Victor is different from Simon, and as he clearly points out in the beginning their stories are set to be different. I liked the diversity in this story. It wasn’t another white, well-to-do coming of age story. This felt more human and real with more complexity. And unlike Simon, Victor isn’t sure if he’s gay or not.
So Does Victor like Mia or Benji? What does he want to be? Like Love, Simon, this series made it believable that there is a cause for struggle. Victor’s parents don’t seem like they would be accepting, and his relationship with them is important to him. It’s like he knows on some level that he is gay and he’s trying to find acceptance, but he wants one more chance to see if he can be what his world expects of him. He wants to fit in.
This certainly is not a cutting-edge series full of themes and plot twists that we’ve never seen before. The intended audience is teenagers as the drama reminds me of “She’s All That” for some reason. We even culminate in a school dance scene. But it is important that this story exists to represent narratives that exist in real life. I’ve read about the move from Disney’s platform over to Hulu, and I’m not sure how I feel about the change. But I’m happy that the story was made.
One of the things I liked most was the episode that touched on community. Interestingly, it was also the episode where Simon makes an appearance. Victor wants to see the “gay scene,” but he discovers people that he is uncomfortable with. To him they don’t seem normal or what he sees for himself. But he learns lessons about people being who they are and how they all relate. He sees that he is a part of something bigger, and the realization helps propel him forward.
One of the things I struggle with is Victor’s relationship with Mia. In most every way Victor comes across as a good person who makes the right choices. He stands up for his friends. He takes care of his family. But while he tries to figure himself out, he doesn’t seem to be able to figure out that he’s hurting Mia. He even hurts Benji in the process. I understand the reality of this situation having been in it myself. Maybe that’s my bias here.
Perhaps the theme is more about how the process of coming out impacts other people. It’s not even as much about the coming out process, but the self-reckoning that comes before it. While a person figures themselves out there is often this collateral damage that is self inflicted – albeit unintentionally. Victor obscures himself in a sort of self-preservation effort, but we all know where lies in film take us to.
I’ve been researching a bit to see what the differences are between coming out way back when I did and what it’s like now. Somewhat surprisingly, 25 years hasn’t changed the experience that much. Granted the external landscape is different in terms of normalization, accessibility of information and community. But the internal struggles are the same, and even many of the external factors that make coming out difficult still exist.
I’ll be very interested to see if there is a second season of Love, Victor. It is certainly set up that it could, and it has an opportunity to tell a story that could continue to be different and even unique.