TEEN dramas are so common on Hollywood TV as they cater to the young adult market who loved watching such shows through the years from “Dawson’s Creek” and “Beverly Hills 92010” to “Gossip Girl” and “Riverdale”, which are, as a rule, white and heterosexual.
Now comes “Love, Victor” from HULU, ten episodes of half an hour each, which is totally different as it’s about a young gay boy’s coming out. And he’s not really white but a Latino and the girl he’s initially paired with is black.
There are many mixed interracial pairings in the show, which is a spin off of the hit movie “Love, Simon” (2018), a romcom, coming of age story about a closeted white high school teener and how he comes out and finds his first love.
The movie is upbeat, the emphasis is not on gay lust and sex but is idealized in that everything comes out right for Simon in the end, including the final scene where he kisses the object of his love (a black guy) in the ferris wheel and everyone applauds them. A clear wish fulfillment for closeted gays.
Just like its predecessor, “Love, Victor”, is about the difficulty of coming out and is teen friendly, like those Boy Love (BL) series so common on local TV today. Unlike Simon (Nick Robinson) who’s aware that he’s gay from the start, Victor (Michael Cimino) starts as being confused at 16 about his real sexual orientation.
The way his story is presented is charming and likeable, much like other heterosexual romcoms that feature parental drama, supportive but quirky best friends, unrequited love, carnivals with ferris wheels and the usual school dance. The tone is light, and although there’s some drama, it’s more interested in keeping the viewers entertained and not fret about all the drama and angst of coming out.
The script manages to remain chaste and the sex act among gays is never really mentioned. Only the most violent homophobes will be turned off by it. Victor is just so adorable and appealing as any heterosexual protagonist. It’s easy to root for him as he’s even the peacemaker in their family. You pray that when his coming out happens, it won’t break his heart.
The characters are mostly wholesome and the gays are not the swishy but the macho gay types. No one is thoroughly detestable even Andrew (Mason Gooding), the hunky school jock who we initially thought is a villain. The show starts with Victor and his Latino family moving in from Texas to Creekwood in Atlanta, Georgia.
The official reason is that dad Armando (James Martinez) got a new job there, but later, the real reason will be revealed to Victor’s rebellious younger sister, Pilar (Isabel Ferreira), and it concerns a kink in the marital relationship of their parents. Victor quickly finds a friend in their neighbor, Felix (Anthony Turpel), a nerdy guy who is wrongly maligned in school for allegedly having only one ball instead of the usual two.
Since he’s still navigating his feelings, Victor falls for the friendly Mia (Rachel Hilson), a pretty black girl who’s popular in their school. He likes kissing her and thinks her lips are delicious. Mia’s best friend is Lake (Bebe Wood), and Felix is in love with her but she totally ignores him. Then Victor meets Benji (George Sear), who has come out as gay and has a boyfriend.
Victor is attracted to him and he then reaches out to Simon via text messages to consult him about his feelings. His first message to Simon is: “Screw you for having the world’s most perfect, accepting parents, the world’s most supportive friends. Because for some of us, it’s not that easy.”
Simon is now in college in New York and we initially just hear him responding to Victor in voice overs, but he appears in the 8th episode when Victor goes to visit him and his boyfriend and learns that in New York, nobody gives a shit if you’re gay.
What’s nice about Victor is that he doesn’t fit the usual stereotyped gay character. He’s a good basketball player who is brave enough to stand up to school bullies, but he’s scared to reveal his true identity, specially to his very conservative grandparents who are openly prejudiced to gays. But in New York, he meets Simon’s roommates, some of whom dress in drag.
He realizes that “there’s no one way to be gay” and they come in various varieties. Ultimately, the message of the show is just be yourself, accept who you are and take a stand about what you believe in. What’s nice about the show is that you don’t relate just with Victor but also the people around him. His parents are unique characters unto themselves with their own faux pas and back stories. Even Benji has his own dark past experience with homophobia, which underlines what the show is really saying: self discovery and coming out is never easy.