- An LGBT+ teen TV show is still a rare thing – so should you be bingeing on all 10 episodes right now?
Love, Victor – the much-awaited TV series sequel to the 2018 groundbreaking gay film Love, Simon – is out on Hulu today.
All 10 episodes have dropped so Simonverse fans can binge on the streaming channel.
And, despite a few cheesy moments, they should find much to love in a drama that explores LGBT+ identity, friendship, family and the joy and complexity of relationships.
The new story follows Victor – aged 16 and played by 20-year-old Michael Cimino – as he starts at Creekwood High School after his family moved from Texas. He hopes it will be a chance to finally be himself – but hasn’t quite worked out what that is.
He soon hears about legendary former Creekwood High student Simon and reaches out to him on Instagram for help.
The constant text communication between college student Simon and Victor, a teen he’s never met, would seem unlikely in almost any other context.
But actually many of us will be able to relate to the desire to support a fellow LGBT+ person struggling with their identity. And it’s reassuring that an LGBT+ story is showing teenagers that help is out there if they ask for it.
Identity and romance
Meanwhile it’s also refreshing that this isn’t a simple coming out story. Victor is genuinely unsure about his own identity.
He soon finds himself attracted to Mia (Rachel Naomi Hilson) and finds his friendship further confuses his feelings.
At the same time, he fights his crush on fellow Creekwood High student Benjy (George Sear), who he works with at the local coffee shop.
Moreover, the fact this is a TV series rather than a film gives ample time for the story to explore other kinds of teen romance.
Meanwhile, it shows adult relationships are just as messy and complicated. As we all know, parents can be just as clueless as kids so the episodes gradually show family strife, new love and even unplanned pregnancy.
There’s also time set aside to explore the pressure to conform, self image and mental health problems. Being a geek or conforming as a jock can be just as hard in their own ways.
The kids and their families in Creekwood are certainly privileged but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own struggles.
Despite all this it’s remarkably safe and family friendly. Love, Victor simply isn’t gritty – bullying and even hatred are minimal.
Notably, Disney+ turned the series down as too risky, allowing their sister platform Hulu to pick it up. And on face value it’s so safe that seems like a bizarre decision.
Love, family, friends and community
However, as the series builds you will become emotionally invested in the characters.
The mere fact that a major streaming platform is putting out a major LGBT+ teen show is groundbreaking.
It’s also heartening that Victor’s family is Latino – taking the ‘Simonverse’ to a new level of inclusion.
And perhaps the fact that the characters can invariably fall back on the love of their family and friends sends a powerful and reassuring message for struggling LGBT+ youth.
Indeed, this message is spelled out when episode eight explores the LGBT+ community and movingly shows another kind of family.
Love, Victor may miss the scale of Love, Simon or the sharp, cult cool of Sex Education. But for all that, it is a sweet story with a charming lead in Cimino and provides a kind of escapism that is much needed.