Love Victor (2020) - Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger
The series focuses on a new student at Creekwood High School, Victor. The series follows his journey of self-discovery: facing challenges at home and struggling with his sexual orientation. He reaches out to Simon when it seems too difficult for him to navigate through high school.
‘Love Victor’ was released on the 17th of June 2020 and was available to stream on Hulu. I finished the 10-episode series on the 17th of June 2020 and was left with semi-tears rolling down my cheek. Created by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, this spinoff series from the hit 2018 film ‘Love Simon’ was a direct response and improvement to what the major film was lacking. It strays away from Simon Spier’s more privileged narrative that the film offered the audience and reels in a new nuanced lead Victor, played by Michael Camino.
The difference in Victor’s background compared to Simons is stark. Our main character being from Latinx from a Latinx family who are strongly Christian and behold the same strong beliefs against the LGBTQ+ community. The struggles that the story establishes from the beginning about Victor establishes a more realistic portrayal and struggle of LGBTQ+ teens. The show even opens with an extremely meta critique of ‘Love Simon’ with Victor actively texting Simon about how lucky and otherworldly his coming out was. Even mentioning the ‘great declaration of love’ on the Ferris wheel as a criticism. Within the first few scenes we have our main character openly confronts its predecessor which I admire the creators for pursuing rather than acting as a direct copy of ‘Love Simon’ but in television form.
The set-up of the show is not genre-breaking or moving away from the boundaries of television but manages to tell an emotional story within the confines of the traditional high- school narrative. Victor has just started at the same school as Simon, Creekwood High, and will now have to voyage through the struggles of his sexual orientation in the backdrop of school drama and family conflicts. Its strengths that allow it to maintain away a far distance from melodramatic nature of CW shows is the guiding hand that ‘Love Simon’ offers to the show. Every episode we have at least on conversation between Victor and Simon which is over text. Nick Robinson who plays Simon and even produced the show acts as a spiritual guide to Victor. His voice-over sequences imitating the voice of god in Victors eyes, contributing meaningful advice to our protagonist in dire positions which can not only be aimed at Victor but any LGBTQ+ teens that are struggling with their sexuality. Although the same format was taken in the 2018 film, the questions that Victor have for him are outside of the white privileged bubble that Simon had. Opening new doors and more relatable advice for LGBTQ+ teens. Not only was this effectively accomplished through the talent of the directing crew, but I also personally felt seen.
My favourite episode by-far within the series is episode 8 called ‘Boys Trip’. An episode where Victor visits New York to meet Simon and is welcomed by the group of queer friends in the city that Simon has made. This episode really opened up the scale of what the show wanted to explore as the ‘Love, x’ universe has mainly focused on the journeys of masculine closeted teens whereas here, we get a shallow dive into gay culture. Although not reaching its full potential, it reminds Victor that he is himself. His journey is one shared by millions of other teens just with different colours of life and hardship.
The importance of this cannot be stressed enough as when I was closeted, the isolation was overwhelming. There was a mindset that was implanted deep within my head that no one knows what I am experiencing other than myself. That these experiences were singular to me. But they aren’t and never will be. We are born and bred within the mechanics of our community and this episode strengthened that bond. Observing Victor finally discover that he has the bond as well is too poignant to describe with words.
Not only is the episode incredible, but it also features Katya Zamolodchikova, one of my favourite drag queens (I’m going to use her name as an opportunity to just recommend ‘UNHhhh’ which is a YouTube series starring her and Trixie Mattel and I cannot stress how brilliant it is. It also has 5 seasons with around 120 episodes streaming for free so go watch it.).
Although it does feel too over-the-top occasionally and falls into the trap of a dramatic high-school soap opera which removes from the relevant themes that it likes to undertake, its improvement from its predecessor and emotional beats that hit too close to home make it an obligatory watch for any LGBTQ+ teen. It is also currently filming its second season, so we still have a lot more ‘Love, X’ content coming our way.