Love, Victor stars Michael Cimino as Victor Salazar, who, like Simon Spier, is on his own journey of self-discovery. Facing challenges at home, navigating the ups and downs of a new high school, and exploring his sexual orientation, Victor reaches out to Simon when things become too difficult.
When Greg Berlanti‘s coming-of-age romantic gay comedy-drama Love, Simon was released back in 2018, it took me by complete surprise. The movie was an invigorating breath of fresh air into the coming-of-age genre – a genre, that, let’s face it, is absolutely plagued with familiarity and tropes, as great and as cute as some of these films are.
By 2018, one would think that there couldn’t possibly be any way for a new coming-of-age film to be released that actually would shake things up and add a whole bunch of fresh surprises in store, and one that surprisingly manages to avoid a ton of the genre trappings, but Love, Simon did exactly that. It’s a film that’s not only deeply funny and wholesome to watch, but it’s one that really hit home for a lot of gay teenagers all around the world. For the first time in their lives, they actually felt seen.
They were able to go to their local movie theatre and watch a film about a high school boy who is struggling with coming out to his parents and classmates, but eventually, learns to not only accept who he is but love who he is. When the ones closest to him find out, they are amazingly supportive and for the first time in his entire life, Simon feels seen and heard. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if a gay kid saw Love, Simon, and felt so inspired by the film that they finally came out to their parents and friends.
These types of stories are so important in any medium of entertainment, and it’s a shame that we haven’t seen more of them. It was clear however that Love, Simon had quite the big world with a ton of potential so not only were there sequel books focusing on other characters in the “Simonverse” such as Leah, but a Hulu original series Love, Victor followed and was released in 2020.
As a gigantic fan of Love, Simon, I obviously had gargantuan expectations for this show and what it could be if it was written, directed, and acted well, and for the most part, it was. But as is often the case when you become overly excited about something, you may find yourself feeling a little underwhelmed with the final product. That’s kind of how I felt with the first season of Love, Victor. The title character won my heart instantly and the show’s first outing was admittedly funny, wholesome, and an excellent show for LGBTQ youth all around the world, but it felt like it was still in the show of Love, Simon. Don’t get me wrong – I know the show is a sort of sequel to that movie, so the connections to it are understandable and they made sense, but it felt like the show hadn’t quite blossomed into its own thing yet.
The first season ends on a fairly big note with the titular Victor Salazar coming out to his parents after ten full episodes of genuine tension and anxiety bottled up within him. One of the things that some people didn’t like about Love, Simon was how perfect his parents seemed to be. As much as I love the film, I have to agree. They were like the idealized parents that every kid in the world would want to have, and it seemed like they could do no wrong.
Love, Victor aimed to change that, though. It gave us Isabel (Ana Ortiz) and Armando Salazar (James Martinez), two parents that come from very different cultures and belief systems that Simon’s parents came from. Isabel and Armando are often seen joking around about Victor getting a girlfriend one day and Victor looks uncomfortable, understandably. It’s made abundantly clear that if his parents found out that he is gay, they probably wouldn’t take it too well.
But even though the first season ended with such a big cliffhanger – Victor finally telling his parents he is gay followed by a cut to black – it felt like it didn’t really need a second season. I was okay with getting a follow-up, it was just something that I was a little iffy about. But I am so elated to tell you that I’m over the moon that Love, Victor has a second season. Not only is this an absolutely incredible improvement over the first season, I think it may have finally surpassed my love for Love, Simon. Seriously.
This second season wastes absolutely no time in getting to the gist of things – it opens with a continuation of the season one finale, and as you probably predicted, Victor’s parents are flabbergasted and appalled when Victor tells them he is gay. Throughout the course of the season, Victor’s parents have discussions about him and the way he was born.
His father Armando is relatively quick to be surprisingly accepting of his son, despite the beliefs that were ingrained within him ever since he was a kid himself. He knows that ultimately, being gay is not a choice and it is something you were born with. He’s not jumping with joy when he learns to accept Victor, but he is absolutely there for him and still loves him.
But Isabel is a little bit more on the fence. She loves Victor too, but she still struggles to cope with the information about her son. During the course of the season, we see his parents having to learn how to accept their son even if him being gay is not something that they anticipated or really like at first.
And as painful and heartbreaking as this whole situation is for Victor, it’s so realistic, almost in a scary way. When you come out as gay to the ones you love most, you can only hope that they will accept you and love you the same as they always have. But of course, there’s always going to be that part of you that wonders “If I come out, how are they going to react?”. “Are they still going to love me? Are they going to talk to me differently or treat me differently?”. These are all questions that Victor asks himself throughout this season and these topics are explored in brilliant ways.
But it’s not just Victor who gets a ton of depth and character exploration in this second outing. All of the side characters are explored in wonderful ways here as well. In the first season, Felix (Anthony Turpel) was probably my favorite character of the bunch. At first, he was in danger of becoming that annoying comedic relief side character that only exists just to make the audience laugh and break the tension in certain scenes, but he quickly proved to be a genuinely compelling character with heart, charisma, and depth.
Season two fleshes him out even more. On the surface, Felix is a very happy-go-lucky teen that seems to have a pretty good life. He is finally dating the girl he has liked for an extremely long time, that of Lake Meriwether (Bebe Wood), and he has more friends at Creekwood High School than ever before, but he’s hiding a dark secret.
His mother is struggling to pay the bills for their apartment and it’s getting so bad that they might get evicted. There’s really only so much a high school student can do to help out financially and it pains Felix that he can’t help her more. He does the best he can but the pain is riddled all over his face. You can tell that this situation is killing him inside. All of this hurt and anguish is made all the more real thanks to Anthony Turpel’s extraordinary performance.
This season does a phenomenal job at developing the characters that we got to know and love in the first season and make you feel like you know them personally. Season one felt like it was the introduction season. It showed us who Victor and his friends are and it promised depth to come down the road, and boy does season two deliver on that promise.
All ten episodes of season two are incredibly layered, funny, emotional, and uplifting in more ways than one. They are filled to the brim with extremely memorable moments that I will not forget anytime soon. It’s one of those rare shows that genuinely gets better with each and every single episode.
The last three episodes, in particular, are wonderfully told. It eventually builds up to a finale that is so grand in scale and story that it feels like the kind of grand conclusion you would only see in huge movie franchises. The final episode “Close Your Eyes” may only be thirty minutes in length, but the screenwriters make sure to create the most emotionally charged, powerful, and poignant episode of the entire series.
It feels so grounded and full of storyline conclusions and new revelations that will make you pump your fists in the air one minute and audibly gasp the next. It’s an episode that I truly believe is going to go down as an all-time great in the realm of coming-of-age.
Interestingly enough, Love, Victor‘s final episode also has me conflicted on whether or not I want a new season, much like how I felt after finishing season one. Admittedly, season two’s last episode has more of a sense of finality to it than season one, but it’s the kind of episode where I am completely divided on whether or not I want it to continue.
As mentioned above, the episode manages to conclude some of the season’s biggest storylines in satisfactory and entertaining ways, but it also brings up new questions and possibilities for where the show could go in the future. I won’t be bringing up spoilers here because I think that this show is best experienced if you go in and see where this story goes on your own. But it’s definitely the kind of ending that’s going to get all of the fans talking and debating back and forth about whether or not they want a third season. As for me, I’m split. One part of me thinks that this season ended in a beautiful way and it should be the series finale here. But the other part of me is so painstakingly curious about what could possibly happen next. Either way, only time will tell as to whether or not this will be the final outing for Victor and the rest of his Creekwood friends.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: TV-14
Distributed by: Disney Platform Distribution
Release Date: June 11, 2021
Number of episodes: 10