It is bittersweet that “Love, Victor,” the affable TV spin-off of the hit film “Love, Simon” — which was adapted from the YA novel, “Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda” — ends its run with its third season that dropped on Hulu earlier this month. The teen romantic angst is at an all-time high as its gay and straight characters couple, recouple, and uncouple over the course of eight final episodes.
To recap, last season’s cliffhanger had gay teen Victor Salazar (Michael Cimino) arriving at the door of either his boyfriend, Benji (George Sear), or Rahim (Anthony Keyvan), a gay Iranian classmate he kissed. Season three opens by revealing who is behind that door. However, without disclosing Victor’s choice, what can be said is that his love life only gets more complicated, not less. Moreover, when these rivals for Victor’s affection are forced to work together for school, it causes Victor anxiety.
There is also the addition of another gay teen character, Nick (Nico Greetham), whom Victor starts to see casually, but may want to have a more conventional relationship with — if that is viable. Nick is a good foil for Victor because he helps him determine what he really wants in a boyfriend.
“Love, Victor” also features a storyline where Victor’s friend, Lake (Bebe Wood), becomes romantically involved with Lucy (Ava Capri). While the teens are out at school, Lake does have concerns about telling her hyper critical mother about her same-sex relationship.
A strong thread this season involves parents and their children trying to connect. Benji must navigate his strained relationship with his disapproving and controlling father (Kevin Rahm) and flashbacks explain the root of that dynamic. Felix (Anthony Turpel), Victor’s best friend and neighbor, finds himself falling for Victor’s sister, Pilar (Isabella Ferreira) — but their efforts to keep things on the down low angers Pilar’s overprotective father, Armando (James Martinez).
Meanwhile, Mia (Rachel Hilson) is hoping to stay in Creekwood when her father (Mekhi Phifer) takes a job across the country, and Rahim has to deal with hiding his sexuality from his uncle. And then there is Victor’s mother, Isabel (Ana Ortiz), who is more supportive of her son, embracing his sexuality (after having struggled with it last season). In fact, she is the one who arranges for Victor to meet Nick, perhaps unaware of the complications that would cause.
“Love, Victor” is about the decisions the characters make regarding their lives, from what to wear, where to go to college, and more serious topics such as sobriety and when to have sex. The storylines seem to be geared toward either younger viewers who can delight in the knotty plotting, or parents who can appreciate the morality of the various situations. But fans of the show might find some of the scenarios contrived if not downright strained. One thorny situation involves Victor worried about having contracted an STD; another episode has Victor and Benji attending a drag bingo show in a bar. Better is a sequence where Rahim reads a pair of homophobes who bully him and Victor during a night out.
“Love, Victor” wears its gay-is-good emotions on its sleeve, which is admirable even if it sometimes gets overworked. One arc has Victor contemplating whether or not to receive “the bravery award” — which he calls “the gay award,” because it honors his efforts to be out on the basketball team. Victor gives an inspirational speech about it, which allows for a grandstanding moment that is nevertheless heartfelt and moving. In contrast, a scene where Victor hopes to mentor an overachieving gay teen backfires. That said, it is nice that he tries to pay it forward, given how Simon (Nick Robinson from the original film) helped Victor come out in Season 1.
Oddly, much of this season seems focused on the supporting characters, which almost suggests that Victor’s being out, albeit lovelorn, is less interesting than some of the other minidramas that flesh out the series.
All the characters seem to be guilty of putting other people’s emotions before their own, which prompts someone in the relationship to move on. And perhaps that is why “Love, Victor” has run its course, and it is time for it to move on as well. The show had a nice three-year run, and Michael Cimino made an engaging protagonist. The ensemble cast of supporting actors were uniformly endearing, and this season, Anthony Keyvan and Nico Greetham as Rahim and Nick, respectively stand out. Alas, George Sear’s character Benji is all drama drama drama this season. At least Anthony Turpel provides some comic relief as Felix, and Isabella Ferreira gets a few episodes to shine.
“Love, Victor” ends on a note that pays homage to its source material, bringing the queer love story full circle. It is sweet and corny, but then again, what teen romance isn’t both?