Last week, we talked about Love, Victor. In my review, I pinky promised you that we'd have a conversation about spoilers when the full series hit Hulu.
Well, guess what? Hulu decided to move up the release as to not compete with Juneteenth. And that means the time has come to head to spoiler town!
Warning, spoilers abound! Don't want to know what happens before you watch? Click away now!
Mom, Dad, I'm ...
The bottom line: A sweet and heartfelt look at what it means to be a closeted young latino.
The Shining Stars
- Scraps teen angst for the teen experience
- Illustrates both the fierce love and traditional complications of a hispanic household
- Delightfully sincere
- Where it ends results in a pulled punch of a finale
- Character growth might take a hair too long for some
A Spoonful of Sugar (and a dash of cameos)
Love, Victor is young-adult fare, so you hopefully went in expecting it to be sugary sweet with a flair for the dramatic. While both of those things are true, it never goes into saccharine or melodramatic territory. There's a nice level of reality to the series, particularly in its choice to focus around a character who has a little less privilege than its previous protagonist, Simon.
Speaking of Simon, you'll be hearing his voice every episode in his communications with Victor. But his involvement goes a little bit deeper than that, too. The season's most charming episode follows Victor on a misguided pilgrimage to New York City in an effort to meet up with his unlikely mentor — without Simon's knowledge. Since the aforementioned is out of town, Victor instead meets up with Bram and the couple's roommates to spend a night on the town.
Let me tell you, any queer person from a small town felt this episode in their soul. Seeing that you don't have to be a stereotype — and learning that queerness comes in every shape and size that straight does — is such a huge, eye-opening moment for any one of us who comes from less progressive communities. This ended up being my favorite episode in the series for that very reason.
The Big Bad Bully
We need to take a moment to talk about the series bully, Andrew. So far as YA bullies go, he's pretty tame. All the same, his brand of cruelty fits in nicely with the vibe of the show. Though, the most important aspect of his character isn't how far he'll go to humiliate people. Instead, the most interesting thing about Andrew is where he draws the line.
In the final episode, Andrew discovers Victor's secret. Victor panics, knowing that Andrew has feelings for Mia, and could easily get what he wanted by outing the resident gay boy. When Victor pleads with him to not do just that, Andrew immediately points out that he would never do such a thing. And that's that! Mia finds out via perfectly organic means that don't require a character taking part in something absolutely unforgivable.
Love, Victor took that moment to draw a hard line in the sand. Outing someone as punishment is a line that only the most deplorable people cross. Taking the time to show that the season's antagonist wouldn't do such a thing goes really far to show what an irredeemable act outing someone against their will is.
Those Supporting Characters, Though
There have been some complaints about the size Love, Victor's character ensemble. While I'd agree that there absolutely are too many for a film, I think there's plenty of space for five supporting players in addition to the main protagonist.
Each one of them brings something a little different to the table. Though progression in some (mostly Lake and Pilar) is slower than others, it's difficult to argue each of their importance to the overall narrative. Lake and Felix's complicated relationship ends up turning into something really sweet, with both of them revealing their root of their respective insecurities over time. Both kids are dealing with issues that translate into reality for some high schoolers today, so it's hard to say their stories didn't matter.
Even young Mia gets the arc she deserves, though it is as slow as the rest. Her unmitigated hatred for her future stepmother is both unfounded and predictable (again – YA show), but who's good at controlling their emotions at sixteen? The girl lost her mom, hardly sees her dad, is worried she's going to get replaced by a new baby, and doesn't really know what in the hell is going on with that complicated boyfriend of hers. More shows should be less afraid to illustrate their teens as unlikable from time to time.
All of us sucked occasionally at that age. All of us!
Let's Talk About That Ending
So, here's the thing: I think Love, Victor was really solid. I also knocked off a whole star in my review based on how it decided to end its first season. The ethos of Love, Victor (and Love, Simon before it) is showing that while coming out is terrifying, it doesn't always end poorly. We have countless properties showing us the hell that young members of the LGBTQ+ community experience. Many of us have even lived it.
It's because of this that Love, Victor's ending feels cheap. Perhaps his parents do accept him! Maybe his mom is immediately on board but his father struggles, or vice versa. Leaving their reaction ambiguous in a property built the premise that you will not stop being loved because you're gay is insincere and mean spirited.
The ambiguity also pulls from your first season's ability to stand on its own. There's nothing wrong with wanting to build a universe, or to want to ensure that you have more story to tell so your series can go on to other seasons. Cliffhangers can be a great narrative tool. However, if your cliffhanger removes your season's ability to stand on its own, you've got a bit of an issue. That's where Love, Victor sits by the time the final credits roll. And it's not just because of the ambiguity with Victor's parents, either.
Victor's story with nearly everyone in his life remains open-ended. The only title pairing that received a full season arc was Victor and Felix (and perhaps Victor and Mia, if you're lenient). This means that, should Disney decide that season one didn't garner enough interest to warrant a second season, the otherwise solid story will end in a completely meaningless way.
Now, it's Disney, so is there a solid likelihood that it will go on to Season 2? Sure. Should your story stand on its own without that hope? Yes.
With all of that in mind, Love, Victor is still very much a show that I recommend you check out. If you're reading this, that's hopefully something you've already done. But some folks like spoilers, what do I know? Anyway – the show is kind. It's got the sort of warmth that I think a lot of us need right now, despite the difficult underlying questions.
We all need something sweet right now
Faith, family, love and sexuality are all pretty complicated
Love, Victor is the perfect "be kind to yourself" show. There's a lot going on in the world. We're all (rightfully) in a space where we feel like we have to be "on" all the time. Let yourself have a little break with a sweet, funny, and touching show.
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