June 23, 2020

“Love, Victor” Season One Review: Squeal-Worthy Teen Drama

Love, Simon didn’t need a sequel. It was a perfectly self-contained story, so I must admit I was skeptical when Disney announced they were producing a TV series, set in the same world, that would follow new characters while also featuring a few returning ones.

Thankfully, my cynicism was not well-founded. Love, Victor is able to separate itself from the show while also involving some of its most important elements. There are a few returning characters (chiefly, Nick Robinson’s Simon Spier, one of the show’s narrators), but Love, Victor feels like a very distinct entry in this world, alike enough to its source material to satisfy fans of shared universes, while also being unique and introducing some new ideas.
We’re introduced to Victor Salazar (a charmingly adorable Michael Cimino), who has just moved to Creekwood with his family because his father got a new job. We get a fresh taste of the “new kid” cliché as Victor begins halfway through the school year at Creekwood High School, soon finding himself struggling with his sexual orientation while his new friends get into one sticky situation after another.

While Victor is technically the protagonist (at least the titular one), his friends have story arcs of their own…in fact, more than once, I found the stories featuring the supporting characters to be more engaging than Victor’s. That doesn’t mean that Victor’s story isn’t interesting, though; the show is finding its footing, and deciding how much time to allot to certain characters. Generally, though, the show does a good job on that account, finding enough time to focus on each character and flesh them out:

There’s enthusiastic but lovable weirdo Felix (Anthony Turpel), who takes an instant liking to new neighbor Victor; shy, cute girl Mia (Rachel Naomi Hilson) who finds herself having feelings for the closeted lead; social media queen Lake (Bebe Wood), Mia’s best friend; and Andrew (Mason Gooding), a cocky jock that can’t decide whether he wants to be a one-sided antagonist or a fleshed-out character. Spoiler alert: we find out by the end of the season.

And, of course, there’s Victor’s family. It may seem like there are a Game of Thrones-style mass of characters, but it’s much simpler than I’m making it sound. Everyone’s arcs become intertwined at one point or another, with some creative ways of putting some characters together.

In typical TV drama fashion, secrets are revealed over the course of the first season’s appropriately-paced ten episodes. We get plenty of time to get to know each character intimately, and the show is almost immediately adept at characterizing its main and supporting cast. Most, if not all, of the problems the characters encounter could be solved with a little healthy communication, but for the sake of drama it doesn’t usually play out that way. If it creates an appealing piece of television, I’d say it succeeds — and it does indeed for Love, Victor.

Love, Victor is an enjoyable, serialized inner journey that builds upon the world established by Love, Simon. There were so many moments when I smiled, audibly laughed and sighed with happiness and satisfaction. It’s the kind of show that will make you want to do that, and for that it should be commended. If you get a chance, and if you need to feel a bit of happiness — I’d recommend checking it out. [Grade: A]

Showrunners: Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger
Starring: Michael Cimino, Rachel Naomi Hilson, Anthony Turpel, Bebe Wood, George Sear
Rated: TV-14 (language)
Available: Hulu
Fun Fact: Love, Victor was initially set to release on Disney+ but shifted to Hulu because of its more mature content. It is the second series to move from Disney+ to Hulu, the first being High Fidelity.

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