In Love with ‘Love Victor’
‘Love, Victor’ rivals the most quintessential 2000s rom-coms in terms of its offbeat characters. There’s the boy next door (Anthony Turpel) with a certain standoffish charm; the eccentric Lake (Bebe Wood), equipped with all the colloquials emblematic of ‘gen z’; her friend Mia (Rachel Hilson), more attuned to the social world around her; and Benji (George Sear), the subject of many an unrequited crush, due in part to his vintage Nike cortezes. And then there’s Victor (Michael Cimino), the slightly awkward—though not overbearingly so—protagonist struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.
Together, they navigate the typical opportune moments of any high school feature: the arrogant jocks, carnivals, football games, mean girls, etc. And yet, the narrative doesn’t seem to repeat those of its counterparts.
Or does it? ‘Love, Victor’ is a continuation of ‘Love, Simon’, the first feature film to center queer, adolescent leads. Simon, Victor’s predecessor, manages to come out in a perfectly linear plot, sealed with a happily ever after-esque ending. Critics found the film overbearingly naive, aggressively catering towards a heterosexual audience, one intentionally unfamiliar with the more precarious aspects of bigotry. That’s to say, ‘Love, Victor’ is not a retelling of Simon’s story.
Victor himself, when writing to Simon, eloquently expresses those frustrations with a “screw you”. The interaction occurs in the initial scene, with Victor going on to note “for some of us, it’s not that easy”. Victor doesn’t sulk in Simon’s spacious closet; rather, he lives with his conservative, Colombian-American parents, whose only preconceived notions of non-normative sexualities are in passing flojito remarks. He doesn’t have the financial stability either, forced to acknowledge his working class background early on, and publicly.
‘Love, Victor’ is in direct conversation with the critiques of ‘Love, Simon’, aptly steeped in the nuance of queerness. Still, the series tends to fall into more conventional tropes at times, queer in a watered down form, only accessible through a fixed lens. Perhaps what’s most exciting about Victor is the front of possibility he offers, as his story tip toes on the edge of one more vulnerable and consequential.
Though a second season has yet to be announced, we’re already looking forward to it.