‘Love, Victor’ Sincerely Captures The Struggle of Self Identity as a Teenager – Review
Greg Berlanti’s 2018 film Love, Simon was an enjoyable, although formulaic coming-of-age story based off of the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. The highlight of the movie was the fact that it was the first time audiences ever really got to see a major feature film that focused on the lead protagonist coming out, and it succeeded immensely in that sense.
Admittedly, with the expansion of the premise and keeping it tonally consistent, I didn’t know if it would have the legs to be elongated over a season for a series and have the same effect. Any good spinoff is something that captures the essence of its predecessor and furthers the world, and I didn’t know how much more there was to explore here. Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger’s solution for their return with Love, Victor is to reinvigorate this story by telling it through a new character instead, Victor.
This series tackles the same ideas, struggling with sexual orientation and self identity, but expands upon it with Victor’s background. Simon was an upper-class, white teenager with liberal parents. Victor is experiencing a different world, he transfers from Texas to Georgia and attends the same highschool Simon did, Creekwood High School. He’s not upper-class, and their differences are evident.
Anyone in the Latinx community knows how a lot of our elders (as a whole) are guilty of blatant homophobia, and that issue is dealt with sincerity within the coming-of-age series. He has a different battle to face than Simon did, we all do. Even if we deal with the same issue, our outside forces alter the way we are able to handle it. He had a few more hurdles, and I enjoyed the way they translated this to screen.
People rarely ever talk about how isolating it can be for a teenager to have a secret about their identity, about who they are. Even though he’s surrounded by his friends and loved ones, there’s a part of him that he doesn’t feel comfortable revealing himself. Love, Victor portrays this kind of scenario in a very authentic way, he’s the only one who feels that particular isolation but everyone around him is on a journey through their own self discovery.
Victor’s sister, Pilar (Isabella Ferreira), is a portrait of an angsty suburban teen, having to move cross country and abandon her friends, the only ones who understood her. Felix (Anthony Turpel), his quirky best friend, keeps his home life a secret and is lonely throughout this journey. Mia (Rachel Hilson) is a rich, wealthy girl who seems to have it all, but deals with absent parents while her friend, Lake (Bebe Wood), struggles with lack of self-esteem from the way her overbearing mother treats her.
These are all scenarios that teenagers and young adults can see reflections of themselves in, and that’s what I find the most charming. While they’re all able to find a bit of themselves, we spend the most time with Victor and experience his personal struggle. Michael Cimino absolutely shines as the lead, holding the entire series together with his performance. Nick Robinson reprises his role as a social media penpal to Victor, to alleviate his confusion, guide him through his journey, and allow him to open up. A plot element that feels like a natural extension of the film.
The substantial incorporation of social media is a great tool, in today’s world of rampant Tik Tok and Snapchat use in teens, and how putting yourself under the microscope of the internet can both positively and negatively affect that struggle of self discovery. At Creekwood, there’s gossip blogs capturing everything, obsessive-ness with refreshing Instagram, but it also allows for the connection between Simon and Victor. It’s authentic, and it makes sense to portray both the great and harmful aspects of it.
The series plays into the classic cliches, but it doesn’t deter the audience away from the youthful, heartfelt magic it captures with a vibrant supporting cast and a tender lead in Victor, who we are constantly rooting for. At times the series can feel surface level, however, the lack of depth is not completely faulty.
Coming-of-age stories have to resonate with a wide audience, and this one in particular can be very special for teens and young adults, even if they don’t face this particular struggle. It’s an easily digestible, very pleasant series strung together by a lot of great moments and laughs to be had.
Love, Victor hits hulu on June 17, 2020