‘Love, Victor’ Contains Some Predictable Tropes, But It Finds a Lovable Identity Along the Way

Hulu’s Love, Victor takes place in the same world as its cinematic predecessor — Love, Simon. The two connect via anecdotal letters Victor sends to Simon. Victor, who is trying to come to terms with his sexuality, reaches out to Simon for guidance and mentorship when his family moves from Texas to Georgia. 

While reaching out to Simon feels a little too apropos, alla small-screen serendipity, Victor will be attending the same public high school Simon did. Thus, Victor sees the former student as a light in a dark tunnel. Simon has experience walking the same halls and may be able to tell Victor where to step — how to maneuver the unpredictable, life-or-death phase that is public schooling as a closeted adolescent. 

Love, Victor | Mitch Haddad Hulu
‘Love, Victor’ | Mitch Haddad/Hulu

Victor lets Simon (and viewers) know early on that this show will not be a rehashing of the Love, Simon narrative. It will be a worldly extension of its small bubble — with different dilemmas, new essential subplots, and other LGBTQ topics. 

Victor’s family is not Simon’s family 

Victor’s family is religious — crosses-on-the-wall-level religious — and the father of the family mimes a limp wrist when commenting on a boy he presumes to be gay. In other words, Victor doesn’t expect love and warmth to come flocking his way when he comes out; he expects much worse — worse than Simon’s seemingly picture-perfect ending. 

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The show cements a foundation in religion and tradition — upon which it grows in some expected (and other unexpected) directions. Though the show suffers from a few narrative tropes, they somehow work in its favor, giving some of the deeper themes a bit of air to breathe.

‘Love, Victor’ can be predictable at times, but it brings depth to characters and ideas that would otherwise be cliché and peripheral

Love, Victor features that classic nerdy guy who accepts the new kid with open arms — he’s got a typical quirky personality and a soft spot for the underdog. And, his name is even adorable — Felix. 

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Felix is the guy whos is always there for Victor, who wants to help him fit it and find his place in school; thus, Felix is obviously the person Victor winds up hurting first. Though Felix is a classic supporting character in sitcoms of the Love, Victor kin, he battles with his own struggles — a bleeding heart for the popular girl, a mature worldview that’s matched with unwavering silliness, and a homelife that, despite his outward positivity, isn’t all-too enviable. He isn’t merely a chess piece used to strategically advance Victor’s narrative; he possesses an individuality and an intriguing arc all his own. And, just like Felix yearns to help his friends, Victor years to fix his family.

‘Love, Victor’ strategically incorporates The Kin Selection Hypothesis 

When there’s a problem in the house — parents fighting or siblings disrespecting authority — Victor finds a way to ease the tension. And, though this may be a common depiction for gay, closeted males (in relation to the family unit), it works. 

The depiction works because it is not merely a two-dimensional illustration, but a factor that plays into the pivotal interrelationship and overall storyline. When Victor and his sister find out that his mom had an affair, the “perfect son’s” fixer tendencies are put to the test. He must grapple with the idealistic image he has of his mom while remaining true to himself. Victor wants to reveal his sexuality to his family, yet also maintain his household’s status quo. He fears his truth will only push his family to the brink, which they are already skating quite close to. 

Whether intentionally or not, Victor’s role as the problem-solver is in line with one evolutionary psych theory surrounding homosexuality. The Kin Selection Hypothesis argues that gay males possess an indirect benefit to a group by enhancing the survival prospects of close relatives; the data suggests they become “helpers in the nest.” Victor embodies this idea in the show, and the writers make a point to stress his helper inclinations. His need to fix is put at odds with his desire to come out, creating quite the realistic and unique internal conflict for the show’s main protagonist.

Side stories are not filler; They are fundamental 

There’s the mother’s affair and Victor’s fights with Felix. There’s Victor’s angry sister who just wants to go back home and the out and proud gay peer that Victor is crushing on. In short, the show manages to travel to diverse territories. Love, Victor reveals (in pg-fashion) what a sexual discovery looks like. Viewers get a glimpse of a modern, realistic family (yet one still rooted in tradition) and get to witness the difficulties inherent to parenthood. Yet, somehow, all the deep thematic undertones surface with a necessary degree of levity.

The consequences and benefits of upholding the status quo come forward (for it’s never black and white), as do the fears inherent to any type of substantial change. Yet, most importantly, the show’s surrounding stories never feel peripheral, but integral — consequential to expanding the narrative, but never aimed at “filling” the show with trivial details.