For the past two years, I’ve reviewed Hulu’s delightful, masterful streaming spinoff of the 2018 coming of age film Love, Simon, a film that without question earned a spot on my Best Films of the Decade list. Love, Victor is a series that made a very strong first impression and then really came into its own in many satisfying ways in an even-better second season. Hulu announced earlier this year that Victor’s third season, to be released in summer 2022, would be its last. And I know all good things must come to an end, but this is ridiculous.
It’s going to sound like this review is more mixed, and it is, but I want to make it very clear I still love this show very much. I will go back and rewatch it from the beginning many, many times. I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made over conversations about this franchise and why we find it important. I’m grateful people involved with the making of the show have personally reached out to me in response to my reviews. I love every single one of the friends I’ve made because of this show. Just because the final season is a notch down for me, doesn’t mean this series carries any less of an impact for me. Love, Victor’s third season is the first season I have any issues with, and it’s mainly due to the fact we have fewer episodes this year (8 instead of the usual 10), and we have much more to wrap up.
I will say Victor’s third and final run finds a way to wrap up every character’s arc and put a pretty bow on everything, but it also can’t help but feel rushed, as if the writers and crew were told midway through production that season three would also be the last. But in any event, I am really thankful for everything this franchise, this show and these wonderful actors have brought to it and given to me on a personal level. Because it’s been a wonderful ride, and I will deeply miss this deliriously entertaining, yet deeply important series, even if I wish it would have gone on a little longer.
All episodes watched for review. Spoilers for seasons one and two, and mild season three spoilers to follow.
In season two, we found Victor (Michael Cimino) after coming out to his family and his classmates, and having made his relationship with the dreamy and romantic Benji (George Sear) public. However, their relationship faced several challenges over the course of the second season – challenges that are magnified after Victor’s mother Isabel (Ana Ortiz) catches her son and his boyfriend ‘in the act’, and also with the arrival of Rahim (Anthony Keyvan), a friend of Victor’s sister Pilar (Isabella Ferreria) who creates the show’s proverbial love triangle.
At the end of season two, we find Victor faced with making the choice of who he wants to be with – Benji or Rahim. And while I’m not going to say whose door Victor is standing at when we cut to black at the end of season two, I will say the ramifications of that decision kind of linger all season. And we have plenty of really interesting ground to cover with both Benji and Rahim.
If I had a criticism of the Benji character, it’s that it always felt like George Sear was bringing more to the character than was written on the page. Until this season, Benji never appeared in a scene without Victor. It could be argued that Benji was depicted as more of an extension of Victor’s experience – or an idea of the dream boyfriend – than an actual living, breathing human being. However, that’s something I only really notice now. This season, Benji’s journey could be described as ‘when the manic pixie dream boy implodes.’ Benji has plenty of his own issues, his own demons and his own trauma to come to terms with – challenges that are greater than a high school romance. And the writers are finally giving the magnificent George Sear as much as he’s given the show all this time. Benji is even more likable, the more complicated he’s become. Because now he actually feels like a human being.
And while I enjoyed the bit of time we spent with Rahim in season two, it really does feel like his character was kind of wedged in to force a love triangle, and therefore a cliffhanger. We also see what Rahim’s home life is like this season, we meet his loving and supportive mother, but also see more about his religious upbringing and how damaging that can be to a queer kid who is trying to figure out who he is. I was annoyed by the character in season two, but have a great appreciation for him this season. He also feels like more of a human being and less like a plot device. We also pair Rahim with characters you wouldn’t expect for scenes, and new friendships are formed that you wouldn’t expect, and I really enjoyed seeing this character progress.
The last time we saw Victor’s neighbor and best friend Felix (Anthony Turpel), he had ended things with girlfriend Lake (Bebe Wood) and started a new relationship with Victor’s sister Pilar. This season, Pilar is insistent they keep their new relationship a secret from her parents, even though Felix is basically family. And the story works and it doesn’t. It feels like every big thing that happens is right after the last big thing. I love Felix and Pilar as a couple, but we don’t spend quite enough time with them in couple mode for it to really feel believable. Basically the complaint is, this season is just too short.
Speaking of Lake, she is now exploring her sexuality as well, in a new relationship with Lucy (Ava Capri), a character introduced in season two. I really had high hopes for this coupling in season three. However, we go from the night of the cliffhanger where the two meet and sparks are flying, and then they’re suddenly a couple. We have nothing about Lake questioning her sexuality and what this attraction means – what it means about her in a grand sense and how it informs her past relationships, namely that with Felix. It all feels underwritten, under-realized and unfortunately wedged in. They’re just a couple suddenly and unfortunately Bebe Wood and Ava Capri have no chemistry at all. I wish it was easier to root for these two, but as it’s presented, they’re not much, which is unfortunate. Perhaps if this season were, I don’t know, longer, we would have had enough time to spend with these characters and learn why this relationship matters. We do have a great scene for Leslie Grossman (as Lake’s mother) though.
At the end of season two, we saw Victor’s onetime girlfriend Mia (Rachel Hilson) and her ever-evolving boyfriend Andrew (Mason Gooding) set off on a trip to meet Mia’s mother. Broadway star Tracie Thoms plays Mia’s estranged mother, and we don’t spend quite enough time with her to fully understand the complexities of that relationship. And Mia is also faced with the possibility of having to move for her father’s job. I will say she doesn’t right away. But I will also say that the Mia/Andrew story is probably the least interesting of the bunch, as it was in previous seasons. However, Mason Gooding is just so darn charming it doesn’t particularly matter.
As for new characters, we’re introduced to Nick (Nico Greetham), another queer teen from Victor’s mother’s new church who she introduces to Victor during a time of emotional hardship. I wouldn’t say we end up in a love-quadrangle this season, because even though Nick and Victor do hit it off relatively quickly, there isn’t much to this relationship and Victor is clearly desperate to find something – anything to make him happy, and that probably isn’t going to be found with this new person he just met. And I wouldn’t say the chemistry with Cimino and Greetham is as strong as it is between other couples in this series. But also maybe I’m saying all of this to throw off the scent and Nick and Victor are endgame! You can’t trust anything I say anymore!
Victor’s journey over these past three seasons has been endlessly fascinating, lovingly written and expertly performed, even to the very end. Michael Cimino’s masterclass performance has gotten even better the more he has gotten to know this character – and Victor isn’t always 100% likable and you can see Cimino having fun with the gray areas of his character’s behavior. He really seems to enjoy diving into different versions of this character, as if he’s trying on different personalities – different versions of himself, in the journey of finding out who he truly is. Victor, as a character has become so specific and so layered as the series has gone on, and you can tell how much he has emotionally invested in this character’s story, and he definitely gives Victor the sendoff he deserves.
The dynamic between Victor and his family is ever-changing and still endlessly captivating. In playing the parent not initially accepting of her son, Ana Ortiz has had more interesting material to play around with than her on-screen husband James Martinez. But the chemistry between this family feels lived-in and true, and Isabel’s journey of accepting her son has been a joy to watch. Ana Ortiz is absolutely outstanding this season, as she’s called upon to do more than she has previously. The evolution of where this family ends up vs. where they started is truly something to behold.
So, again, there are some issues I had with this season. I feel like you should go into it knowing some of these things. The show sets up a cameo from the Love, Simon movie that doesn’t happen. I really enjoyed the scenes in seasons one and two of Benji’s band playing a song for Victor, and no such moment exists in season three. I assumed we would follow these characters all the way to their high school graduation. We don’t. We end in probably the other first place you could think of, which is just as important a locale in this universe. And also, the timeline is weird – someone implies mid-season that only a year has passed since the beginning of this series, and that doesn’t make any sense. And this is all fine. It’s just less than I expected from the final season of this series. I can’t believe this is the end of the time I’m spending with them. It definitely feels like we could have gone a few more seasons here.
Ultimately, maybe I’m just in denial this series is over. Maybe the series could have done a better job of making the final season feel like a final season. Maybe the lack of closure is the point. Victor’s story is just beginning – and so is everyone else’s story. But as it stands, Love, Victor was a remarkably enjoyable series – a thrillingly entertaining series full of exceptional performances, but also something that will be deeply important for many, many people. It’s overflowing with joy, heart, enthusiasm and of course, love. Again, I’m so thankful for what this franchise and this show has given me. Season three still made me scream, laugh, cry and cheer, and I have a feeling it will do the same for the millions of people who love this show. I hope people continue to discover it and embrace it for years to come. Maybe if enough people do, they’ll do another couple seasons.