Last year, Hulu released the first season of Love, Victor, and I was left feeling just okay with it (you can check out my in-depth review for season 1 here). With the series getting a season 2 order from Hulu, I was optimistic that the show would be able to address several of the issues that I had with the first: its over Disneyfication of the gay experience and its extremely straight cast. What season 2 offered was definitely a step up over the first, but it still lacked in a lot of aspects that the showrunners definitely heard complaints over from season 1 and had a chance to address.
Love, Victor season 2 picks up right where the first season left off, with Victor (played by Michael Cimino) coming out to his two Catholic parents (played by James Martinez and Ana Ortiz) who are becoming estranged. As summer comes to an end and a new school year begins, Victor must struggle with his parents’ separation and their reaction to his coming out, new drama between his group of friends, and new challenges with his relationship with Benji (played by George Sear).
The best part of season 2, is that they took all that was good in season 1 and made it more mature. The permanent production shift to a Hulu release, as opposed to season 1’s original plan to be put on Disney+, very clearly led the studio to put out a better product. The gay community has a lot of issues that aren’t well represented and the first season definitely skirted around them, but the second chapter in the story definitely attempted to tackle some of those issues: dark side of coming out, persecution at the hands of religious communities, dangers of intimacy, the toxic forms of perception in the gay community (what “kind of gay” you are), being feared as “not safe around children”. While the show only showed a brief sample size of what those things look like in the real world, having those significant parts of the gay experience emphasized to a larger audience is still a massive step in the right direction.
This season, much like the first, was not without its flaws. While the show definitely went more mature, there were moments where the showrunners kept a more “Disney Channel” tone, and the tonal clash that ensued was cringe-inducing and completely destroyed otherwise heartfelt scenes (there’s a scene towards the beginning of the season that involved the school hallway and applause—I refused to watch any more episodes that night after that monstrosity of a scene). Another downside this season, is how much they made me hate some of the supporting cast, particularly the main love interest Benji—if Benji never comes back in future seasons, I will not complain. By the time the season was over, the only supporting characters I still really liked were Felix (played by Anthony Turpel) and Pilar (played by Isabella Ferreira)—the Felix subplot this season was fantastic. All of this said, by far the biggest sin of this season, was the show’s insistence of not casting a single gay actor in a show about gay teens. They did cast Ava Capri in this season, and she is LGBTQIA+, and she was a great addition with the extremely limited screen time she was given. However, there were multiple gay characters introduced this season, and even with all the complaints the first season had for its lack of representation in casting, this season seemly continued to exclusively cast cis straight men.
With the more mature direction for the show, particularly with its discussion of important aspects of the gay experience, season 2 of Love, Victor was definitely a step in the right direction for the series. While some of the supporting characters have begun to wear out their welcome and some of the Disneyfied aspects of the the writing still remain, the overall product we got this time around was better. That said, if season 3 does not cast a gay man in a main supporting role, I think the whole idea and message of the show (to give LGBTQIA+ representation and voice for young gay teens to look towards) is completely neglected by its creators and those involved.
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