Having watched Love, Victor season 2, I guess it’s time for me to finally accept that the creative team is simply interested in making it into yet another messy teen drama instead of fully using the potential that exists in such a story.
This review of Love, Victor season 2 contains major spoilers. You have been warned.
In my review of the first season, I talked about how by-the-numbers the show felt. I also talked about how it came across as primarily made for a straight audience. Well, things weren’t that different for Love, Victor season 2. The narrative continued to tread familiar relationship tropes while giving a lot of screentime to straight characters and their experiences.
Before I talk about what I didn’t like, I’m going to share some of the stuff I enjoyed. And that’s exactly my issue with Love, Victor. A lot of interesting content is present. Yet, the creative team decided to push it all to the side to focus on the worst kind of relationship drama. Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded love triangles.
When the narrative isn’t addressing romantic relationships, it shines. With Victor (Michael Cimino) ready to come out to his parents during the season one finale, the second season showed his family dealing with such a revelation. Victor’s younger sister Pilar’s okay with it, of course. Surprisingly, his father Armando (James Martinez) was okay, too. I was expecting him to be angry about it, at least in the beginning. He’s still got some work to do to be more supportive of his young queer son, but seeing him join PFLAG was nice. We even got a cameo from Simon’s father during a meeting.
Victor’s mother Isabel (Ana Ortiz), on the other hand, had a tough journey. The first season made it clear the mother-son relationship would be challenged if Victor decided to come out. I liked how the creative team handled Isabel’s arc. Not only was she dealing with being separated from Armando, but now knowing that Victor’s gay meant the mere existence of her son was conflicting with her religious beliefs.
Isabel’s cold reaction to having Victor’s boyfriend Benji (George Sear) over for lunch made sense. Her wanting Victor to not mention anything about his sexuality in front of his kid brother made sense. Now, I’m not saying that her decisions were right. I’m just saying her actions made sense for the type of character she’s portrayed to be. Similar to a number of parents out there, it was going to take her time to finally accept her son’s true self. And I have to say I liked seeing Victor being patient with her. They’re family after all. And the fact the two were able to resolve their differences without their relationship turning toxic was a good thing.
The other thing I liked about Love, Victor season 2 was how it dealt with the homophobia our young lead character had to face from his high school basketball team. After coming out at school and announcing Benji as his boyfriend, I was sad when Coach Ford suggested Victor not change in the locker room with the rest of the team because it made certain players uncomfortable.
What Victor had to go through because of his team linked to how certain bigots think queer people are into them. Those students had no problem changing with Victor when they thought he was straight. But now that he’s come out as queer, suddenly they feel like Victor will be checking them out!
Certain cisgender heterosexual dudes really spend their days thinking that every queer guy wants to sleep with them. It’s simultaneously laughable and pathetic.
Victor’s predicament also put Andrew (Mason Gooding) on the line. While Andrew’s an ally to Victor, I liked how Victor wanted him to make a stand. What’s the point of having allies when they won’t support you or hold their peers accountable for bigoted behavior?
Andrew’s suggestion that Victor should ignore the homophobia and continue being the school’s star player was handled well. A lot of times queer people, especially queer people of color, are told to be the best in the group to earn the respect of others. It’s added pressure that non-queer people don’t have to face and even then haters continue to hate.
After Andrew’s advice, seeing Victor stand up for himself and leave the team felt like the right decision to me. However, I would have appreciated him continuing to take space in the locker room because he had every right to be there. Anyway, Andrew and the rest of the teammates did show their support for Victor before a big game. So, that was good.
Seeing Victor face homophobia from some of the team members made me think the main narrative arc in season two would explore the prevalent homophobia in high school sports. After all, Victor was a major reason his school was winning basketball matches. You would assume certain rival teams would try and get under his skin by exhibiting homophobia to his face or through cyberbullying.
But nopes. The writers didn’t delve any deeper into such an important topic and resolved the sport-centric storyline in a couple of episodes.
Turns out, what the writers were really interested in were the same old same old relationship troubles and creating unnecessary drama.
And so, dear readers, begins the part where I talk about the parts of Love, Victor season 2 that disappointed me.
When the promo material talked about season two introducing Rahim (Anthony Kevan), a queer Muslim character that was going to bond with Victor, I immediately knew Rahim was going to cause drama. Furthermore, the trailer for the second season also strengthened by suspicions that the writers had decided to introduce love triangles.
Also, a quick note, even though I don’t personally like the term love triangle, I will be using said term in this review. Frankly, a love triangle should be a term to describe a situation where all three members have confusing romantic feelings for each other (and then, hopefully, decide to form a triad). Two people going after only one person, and forcing then having that one person choose between the two, should not be considered a love triangle.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin with Rahim. An Iranian-American character, he’s introduced to the story as Pilar’s friend (who didn’t even exist in the first season, from what I can remember). He’s openly queer at school but not at home because of his religious parents. I was okay with seeing Rahim form a friendship with Victor. A lot of times certain writers have a habit of pairing queer characters and not allowing them to just remain friends. So, Victor getting to bond with Rahim and basically serve as his mentor felt refreshing. Similar to Simon’s relationship with Victor, this time, Victor was helping Rahim figure things out.
But, their friendship was not to last. With Victor experiencing (forced) relationship troubles with Benji about halfway through the season, you could clearly see there was something more than just a platonic friendship occurring between Victor and Rahim.
There was even a scene where Victor told Benji that he related more to Rahim because they both came from conservative PoC households while Benji didn’t. Not only that, compared to Victor, Benji was on an entirely different chapter in his life as a young queer man. He was out and has had a number of hookups. Victor was still figuring things out and so was Rahim. So, those two had quite a lot in common.
I rolled my eyes at every tropey scene concerning Victor, Benji, and Rahim. It checked all the marks of a problematic trope in media where a PoC is asked to choose between a PoC and a white love interest, with the white love interest usually winning in the long run even if the PoC pairing would make more sense. Sigh!
Other than that, seeing Rahim only be created to cause drama made him not feel like an actual character. We got to learn about his family through certain pieces of dialogue. Even him coming out to his conservative Muslim parents (which is supposed to be a big step thing) occurred offscreen.
Even if Rahim does get a bigger role in Love, Victor season 3, the fact remains that his character will be tainted by how he made a move on Victor while he was dealing with his relationship with Benji.
That’s another thing I didn’t like about how the writers handled the love triangles. Yes, getting a crush on someone who is already in a relationship happens. It’s okay. But what’s not okay is turning yourself into a vulture, waiting to swoop in at the slightest hint of your crush’s romantic life being in trouble with their existing partner.
Love, Victor season 2, basically, made Rahim and Pilar (Isabella Ferreira) act like vultures. While Rahim flirted with Victor, fully knowing he was in a tough spot with Benji, Pilar continued to flirt with Victor’s friend Felix (Anthony Turpel) while he was with Lake (Bebe Wood). Rahim even urged Pilar to make a move on Felix when she asked for advice. It was just poor writing. The entire thing made Pilar not have a personal arc of her own. All of her scenes involved pining after Felix, ultimately kissing him and then making him decide between her and Lake. Seeing Pilar simply exist as a potential love interest to Felix throughout the 10-episode second season was disappointing.
The way Pilar tried to grow close to Felix by offering emotional support during the tough time he was having with his mother (who was experiencing cognitive issues) made me uncomfortable. It was as if she was only being kind to him in hopes he’d fall in love with her. It was the kind of behavior I think shouldn’t be glorified in a show meant for young viewers. Being kind to someone doesn’t mean they should also feel obligated to be romantically involved with you because you like them. It was similar to the “Nice Guy Trope” and I didn’t like Pilar getting such an arc.
I do think the writers could have done something a lot better with Rahim and Pilar if only they saw them as actual layered characters and not problematic love interests. The series included a scene where Rahim met another young man over a social app and then was rejected to his face at the cafe because that dude didn’t like how feminine Rahim was. Now, that’s an issue that this show should have dived deeper into to help viewers understand why such prejudices in the queer community need to be addressed.
And yet, not actually addressing things turned out to be a consistent pattern in Love, Victor season 2. There’s a lot for the writers to explore with the range of characters they have created for such a show. A number of topics that came up were relatable to many across the globe. However, forming a narrative around timely and hard-hitting queer discussions seemed to be an afterthought during the creative process. The main focus became the love triangles and messy relationships. Such a decision lead to Love, Victor turning into your usual teen-centric dramas and took away from the uniqueness of having such a show (due to the type of PoC lead and his family) to exist in US media.
At this point, I think it’s my fault I was expecting something better from Love, Victor. I think I should accept it as the type of show it wants to be (which is just more of your generic teen-targeted offerings), and make peace with how it’s content with just quickly touching certain subjects without feeling the need to say anything important.
Some other thoughts and questions:
- Love, Victor season 2 focused quite a bit on sex. I get that it’s an important part of growing up (for some people). But I do feel being queer is more than just hooking up. Characters should have more layers to them without a majority of said layers being all about romance.
- Mia’s storyline felt very distant from the main plot. It’s as if the writers couldn’t figure out what to do with Mia (Rachel Hilson) now that she wasn’t being used as Victor’s unsuspecting beard. In my opinion, seeing her be written off the show or have her screen time be limited after she decided to meet her mother in some other city wouldn’t change anything major. Personally, I like Mia. I just want her to get better material.
- I don’t know about you, but I do feel Felix did Lake dirty. She had his best intentions at heart and even after he understood all of that, seeing him go and kiss Pilar was not it. Again, we shouldn’t be glorifying Pilar’s behavior. (The same goes for what Rahim did.)
- Turns out, we will be exploring bisexuality through Lake. With how messy the writers have been, I’m seriously hoping they don’t opt for the problematic bisexual trope of portraying bisexuals as cheaters and liars.
- Simon (Nick Robinson) looked sad when Victor told him he was ready to progress in life without always going to him for advice.
All 10 episodes (approximately 25 minutes each) of Love, Victor season 2 were related on Hulu on Friday, June 11, 2021.
What did you think of it?
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Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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