The first season of “Love, Victor” offered a family-friendly journey out of the closet. Season 2 picks up right where Season 1 left off, as the protagonist, Victor (Michael Cimino), finally tells his family he’s gay. Life in the high school closet defined both the start of “Love, Victor” and “Love, Simon,” the cinematic inspiration for the show. So, without the fear of coming out hanging over its plot, where does “Love, Victor” go next?
Once finally out to his parents, Victor begins to shed his people-pleasing tendencies and finally stands up to his homophobic mother (Ana Ortiz). “Damn, gay Victor has way bigger balls than straight Victor,” his sister, Pilar (Isabella Ferreira), comments after one such confrontation.
The same can be said for the show. Though its first season, the season of “straight Victor,” was brimming with family-friendly charm, the emergence of “gay Victor” is absolutely captivating. Not only is the writing ballsier in Season 2 (at some points, quite literally), it’s also more complex. Victor gets a crash course in sex, romance, and how to be “gay enough,” all while navigating awkward family dynamics. His ex-girlfriend, Mia (Rachel Hilson), reels from the many changes in her life and looks for somewhere to land. Victor’s best friend, Felix (Anthony Turpel), struggles as the only child of a single mother with untreated bipolar disorder.
But rather than wrapping everything up in a bow, “Love, Victor” revels in its newfound complexity. Sure, there is a little dance number. The phrase “AF” is, regrettably, spoken out loud by teenagers. But most of the show’s cutesiness has been replaced by more mature subject matter. Victor’s mother plainly balks at her son’s sexuality because she thinks it goes against the word of God. She and his father (James Martinez) unsteadily navigate time apart in their marriage. The teens are, like, 500% hornier. Co-creators and “Love, Simon” screenwriters Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger seem delighted to handle more adult material, injecting a lot of laugh-out-loud dark humor into the script. (In Episode 1, Lake hilariously offers to “ditch these gays like a corporation after Pride Month.”)
It’s almost ethically impossible not to root for these winsome teens as they stumble through the intricacies of first relationships and family troubles. Victor and his boyfriend, Benji (George Sear), are both painstakingly adorable and maddeningly imperfect. Culture, ethnicity, and religion threaten to end their honeymoon phase. Felix and his girlfriend, Lake (Bebe Wood), despite consistently getting the funniest lines in the show, grapple with some very adult problems as Felix’s mom takes a turn for the worse.
As the season progresses and tensions heighten, it feels a bit like watching a bulldozer head for a litter of puppies. But with punchy writing and a charismatic cast, “Love, Victor” makes the agony feel worthwhile — and insanely bingeable. [A]
“Love, Victor” is available now on Hulu.