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Matthew’s Place

Review: Love, Victor

by Ian Carlos Crawford

Love, Simon came out approx. 800 years ago in 2018. Since then, some things have happened that might’ve made you suddenly sprout grey hairs or need to up your Xanax dosage.

Love, Victor was announced as a Love, Simon spin-off and Disney+ original a while back…and then bumped to a Hulu original because Disney+ doesn’t mind 800 folks getting murdered in The Mandalorian (a show I loved), but god forbid gays kiss or consume alcohol on screen. Love, Simon was met with much debate. It was gay but was it queer? Was it too cheesy? Was it a Walmart float at the gay pride parade? It wasn’t an A24 film so why bother? Do gays even need a movie about coming out?

If you’re as exhausted reading those questions as I was writing them, then welcome to hell! Love, Simon had flaws but was a really tender movie with some stellar acting. I still tear up thinking of Jennifer Garner’s “you get to exhale now, Simon” moment. Sometimes it’s okay for something to be geared at teens and not have adults in mind — and the same year Love, Simon came out, I chaperoned an LGBTQ prom for teens, that was promoted as an “alternative prom” because a lot of the kids weren’t out to their parents or came from super conservative families. Those kids loved Love, Simon. They played the soundtrack on loop for most of the night. It mattered that these teens really enjoyed it, really saw themselves in it — not what us older gays thought of it.

This bring us to Love, Victor. It’s another sweet gay story but this one is told through the POV of a closeted Latinx teen boy named Victor (played by Michael Cimino). His parents are religious with a rocky marriage, his sister is goth, and his best friend is his charmingly dorky neighbor. And instead of living in a beautiful huge house like Simon, he lives in a smaller apartment with his family. It almost feels like the writer’s went through all the critiques of the movie and made sure to do the opposite — even though the show isn’t that much different from the movie. In the first episode, his family moves to the same town Simon was from. He quickly befriends Simon (Nick Robinson) on Instagram after hearing about his Ferris Wheel Moment and while Simon does eventually show up in one episode, his presence is mostly in voiceovers. He’s like Kristen Bell in Gossip Girl but gayer.

First and foremost, the show is only ten 30 minute episodes which makes it incredibly easy to binge. If, moving forward, every single show could be this length, it’d be greatly appreciated. But even in these shorter episodes, we get a lot going on. This show does what a movie kind of couldn’t — it shows us how back and forth Victor is with his sexuality. Hell, there was a point in the season where I even thought, “Wait, did Twitter win? Is Victor straight?”

But, of course, that was foolish to think. I myself went back and forth so much before officially coming out. I had trouble differing between enjoying hanging out with someone and wanting to date someone. I mean, at 37 I still have trouble with that — although it’s just usually with other men. Victor wants so badly not to be gay that he convinces himself he has feelings for Mia (played by Rachel Hilson). When, in reality, he has feelings for gay heartthrob Benji (played by George Sear).

While it felt true to life, I have to say the Victor/Mia storyline got quite tired after a while. If the gay show is gonna do a gay story, I needed them to land the gay plane a little earlier. Victor himself was one of the flatter characters — Benji was the more dynamic gay character and Victor’s sister Pilar (Isabella Ferreira) was the more interesting character in the Salazar family. I also needed less of the story to focus on all the 500 other straight couples. The trailer for the series was all about Benji and Victor’s cute romcom moment in the coffee shop — but they barely had enough screen time to make the ending worth it? We spent way too much time watching heterosexuals kiss in this gay show! But, even with all that said, I still enjoyed Love, Victor.

I’m being overly negative here but it’s quarantine, so give me a break. The show feels real, even if a bit boring at times. The stakes are so low yet I found myself stressing about who was gonna kiss who! Would Mia and Victor actually consummate their relationship? Would Victor actually ever kiss heartthrob Benji? Would nerdy Felix (Anthony Turpel) ever kiss anyone?

This show is sweet and cute and short! A great quarantine watch that will hopefully get gayer in season 2. Love, Victor improves upon some of the flaws of Love, Simon but the show itself felt like a trick because it wasn’t a gay romcom but more of a gay coming out story? The show ends on a happy note and season 2 will definitely be the show I wanted to watch. Also, if Katya pops up again she better have more than two lines!

About the Author:

Ian Carlos Crawford grew up in southern New Jersey and, like most people from NJ, he graduated from Rutgers University. He then graduated from New School with an MFA in nonfiction writing. His writing has appeared on sites like Geeks Out, BuzzFeed, NewNowNext, and other random corners of the internet. He currently co-hosts a podcast about his favorite thing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, called Slayerfest 98 and is shopping around his fiction manuscript. Follow him on Twitter @ianxcarlos!

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Matthew's Place

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MatthewsPlace.com is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to submit? Email patrick@matthewshepard.org

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