Note: This review will contain spoilers.
In 2018, 20th Century Studios released Love, Simon (based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli), a romantic comedy/drama that focused on Simon Spier, a (closeted) gay teenager. Now, Hulu has introduced a new story into the Simonverse. Love, Victor follows new Creekwood High student Victor Salazar after he and his family relocate to Atlanta, GA. Throughout the show, Victor learns to adjust to his new Creekwood life while also discovering his sexual identity and dealing with family drama.
Part of what makes the series compelling is the way Victor’s family operates. At the start of the series, they’re moving into their new apartment in Georgia after leaving Texas. All of them, except his sister Pilar, seem excited about a new start, but by the end of the first episode, it’s clear there is unresolved tension between Victor’s parents Armando and Isabel. Eventually we learn Isabel had an affair with Armando’s boss Roger, which lead to Armando punching Roger and getting fired, thus prompting the move to Georgia. In general, the family gets along well. They have their quarrels, but there isn’t anything inherently dysfunctional about them. However, there is constant underlying tension between Armando and Isabel, which the kids all notice, but don’t mention much until closer to the end of the season. The tension is enough to set you on edge, inevitably causing you to worry about the future of Isabel and Armando’s relationship and how it affects their children.
Naturally, the show primarily focuses on Victor, but it also gives glimpses into the lives of Mia, Lake, and Felix. We learn about Mia’s trust issues and her fear that her loved ones will leave her like her mother did. Felix’s energetic personality stems from trying to make the best of a difficult situation with his mother, who’s a hoarder. Meanwhile, Lake is dealing with a mother who’s far too focused on basing Lake’s success on how she presents herself (e.g. what she wears). Each vignette helps create more rounded characters viewers can connect with more easily.
Along with the added insight, all the characters in general mesh well with each other. Each has their own distinct personality that sets them apart but also complements each other. Felix and Victor balance each other in a way similar to how Mia and Lake do. Both pairs have someone more reserved (Victor and Mia) and someone outgoing (Lake and Felix). The rest of the characters also offer foils to the main crew, primarily through Andrew, Pilar (who has a great episode with Felix), and Benji. All of them eventually interact with each at one point or another during the show, which helps solidify their overall relationships as well as keep them connected.
The characters wouldn’t be who they are without the cast behind them, though. Every single person brought great performances to the table, fulling embodying their characters. Michael Cimino (Victor), Anthony Turpel (Felix), Bebe Wood (Lake), and Rachel Hilson (Mia) create a funny and charming friend group, contrasted by Mason Gooding’s Andrew (who fits easily in his own way). Ana Ortiz (Isabel), James Martinez (Armando), Mateo Fernandez (Adrian), and Isabella Ferreira (Pilar) bring the family dynamic along with Cimino that makes them feel like a real family. Last but certainly not least, George Sear shines as the sweet and caring Benji, who was always supportive of Victor, even when it became awkward. The cast has a clear on-screen chemistry, emulated off-screen as well (as perfectly exemplified in this Buzzfeed video).
Most notable, though, is the way the series approaches Victor’s sexuality. Victor’s journey to acknowledging and accepting he’s gay spans the entire season. For most of it, he’s in a relationship with Mia — a relationship that causes him to question whether he’s actually gay, despite his feelings for Benji. Victor’s journey isn’t easy, but it’s honest and provides validation, especially to those (teens especially) who may still be questioning their own sexuality. He also brings different familial and cultural factors that add more layers. Read more about Victor’s self-discovery in our Pride month spotlight for him.
Love, Victor is an important show that’s not to be missed. You’ll invest quickly in the characters and feel their joy and pain. The show offers nods to Love, Simon (“nice shoes”) and brings in familiar faces that keep it tied to the Simonverse while also thriving in its own world. It provides a steady balance of humor and heavier, more emotional moments. It also has a great soundtrack you can listen to here. I can’t wait to see what the next season will bring (if and WHEN it gets renewed).
You can read our recaps of the show here, and stream Love, Victor exclusively on Hulu.