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Love, Victor review: The kids are alright

Love, Victor

r Source: Hulu (Image credit: Hulu)

Simon (Nick Robinson) of the famed Love, Simon had the perfect life. He had accepting parents, loving friends, and a relatively normal school experience. His one struggle was finding a way to come out to all of the people who meant the most to him. The deeply charming film shows him doing just that before all is said and done, but it's important to remember that young Simon had it easy.

Enter Love, Victor — and a whole host of new complications.

Young Victor (Michael Cimino) is a sweet boy from a loving but religious Hispanic family that's just moved to Creekwood from Texas. He is the "fixer" of his family, acting as a buffer between his angsty sister and their struggling parents while trying to navigate fitting in at a brand-new school.

As you've likely gleaned already — he's also gay.

There are plenty of things that Love, Simon didn't have the opportunity to explore as a film. You simply don't have the time to delve into sexuality being a spectrum, or the complications of navigating that spectrum as a 16-year-old. Love, Victor's 10-episode arc gives it time to dive into that and more as it follows its entirely new cast of characters in the familiar setting of Creekwood High.

A group of unlikely friends quickly forms as Victor settles into his new school. Mia (Rachel Hilson) steps into the role of girlfriend pretty quickly, along with all of the complications that come with dating a gay man as a straight woman. Felix (Anthony Turpel) is the unlikely and overly trusting best friend, with Lake (Bebe Wood) and Andrew (Mason Gooding) offering solid supporting roles. We'll discuss more about the intricacies of this group when we post our spoiler-y review after the show goes live. In the meantime, we'll call them a weird version of the Breakfast Club and move on to Victor's family.

Victor and Felix

Source: Hulu (Image credit: Hulu)

The first thing you should know is that they all deeply love each other. There are a lot of complicated feelings between everyone, but the family also has a decent number of frank conversations, but not so much of the "I'm gay," variety. Victor is truly loved, but there's a very big part of him that worries, reasonably, that his family will never be able to accept him. This is driven home both by small moments between he and his father, Armando (James Martinez), and bigger explosions that involve his grandfather and his traditional views.

That love and his fear both result in all the difficult emotions older viewers might be expecting, but are critical to illustrate in young adult programming.

We spend the majority of the season following Victor as he navigates how to be "straight." The thing is, he really does love Mia. That love and his fear both result in all the difficult emotions older viewers might be expecting, but they are critical to illustrate in young adult programming. Don't let that make you think that Love, Victor focuses solely on cultural relevance and ignores the importance of plot, though. It's an easy watch whether you choose to binge in a day or savor each episode.

The series also — blissfully — trades in the traditional high school angst. Victor's sister, Pilar (Isabella Ferreira), fills that niche from a character perspective, but there's no narrative focus on the "woe is me" mentality that typically accompanies a young-adult series. The teens illustrate a full range of human emotion, and save the dramatics for when they're appropriate. Turns out that the kids might actually be alright.

There's something about Love, Victor that stops it from having the same oomph that Love, Simon did. It benefits from tackling a more difficult familial relationship, and by removing basically all of the comforts and privileges that Simon was able to enjoy. However, the end of Season 1 definitely will leave you wanting. It's a factor that often can be to a show's benefit, to be sure. Unfortunately, that's not the case in this otherwise charming glimpse into the closeted high school experience.

While we're avoiding spoilers in this particular preview, I will leave you with these tidbits: there is an episode in the latter half of the season that will cure your sick and grow your crops, you've got plenty of fun guest appearances to look forward to, (most of) the stereotypes sort themselves out and grow into complex characters, and when the final credits roll you'll want to protect all of these sweet babies with your life.

See you on June 17 for more!