Narrative crutches can make or break a TV series, and Love, Victor walks that very fine line in its second season, premiering today on Hulu. After initially DMing Simon, from Love, Simon, (Nick Robinson) asking for advice about coming out at their high school in season one, Victor Salazar (Michael Cimino) continues messaging Simon throughout season two about his relationship woes and the general goings on of his friend group. The DMs often provide insight into Victor’s internal thoughts, but their believability doesn’t always work, especially as Simon makes only a brief appearance this season on screen, and a lot of Victor’s messages go unanswered. However, despite leaning on this narrative crutch too much at times, Love, Victor’s sophomore season explores more complex areas of growing up, coming out, and navigating relationships where acceptance and love appears conditional.
Season two continues immediately after Victor tells his family he’s gay, an aggravating cliffhanger at the end of the first season but a moment that’s not glossed over or forgotten. It’s a short continuation but perfectly sets up the family dynamics for the rest of the season—Pilar’s (Isabella Ferreira) support and his parents’ confusion and reluctance to acknowledge Victor’s sexuality. While the show certainly leans into obvious tropes and lines of dialogue (“When did you decide this?” “I didn’t, I just am” being a very early example), those moments often prove how simple these things should be.
Victor’s parents, Isabel (Ana Ortiz) and Armando (James Martinez), go on interesting and separate journeys learning to accept their son. A wonderful aspect of season two is watching them seek out support, knowledge, and learning on their own, without totally leaning on Victor to constantly explain why his existence as a gay man is valid. Watching Armando in particular take it upon himself to learn what he can on his own is lovely. Isabel’s journey is difficult, and at times disappointing, but the show never once acts like she’s in the right, and while she might take a bit longer to get there, some of the season’s best scenes are between Victor and Isabel, and they’re not sentimental or moments of reconciliation. A lot of their scenes together are examples of how one’s personal journey into learning acceptance isn’t actually something the other person needs to hear or accept yet.
Everyone’s navigating new relationships: Victor and Benji (George Sear) discuss coming out to the entire school about their relationship, which leads to difficulties with the basketball team as well as Victor’s insecurities about his inexperience versus Benji’s. Lake (Bebe Wood) and Felix (Anthony Turpel) move from comedic duo to dealing with their own family dramas, some of the more weak moments of the season. Pilar gets closer with Felix, but I wish Pilar got more to do than pine after her brother’s best friend. Mia (Rachel Hilson) and Andrew (Mason Gooding) struggle to get on the same page, while Mia comes to terms with the whole school knowing of her and Victor’s breakup. Even as they deal with various relationship hurdles, the friendships are still intact. Mia and Victor have a frank discussion about their breakup, with Mia getting to express how she feels like the bad guy but also doesn’t feel like she can be mad. Naming these difficult emotions on both sides is more than Love, Simon did, a perfect example of how some stories work better in the television medium.
The standout of the season, however, is new character Rahim (Anthony Keyvan.) A gay friend of Pilar’s, Rahim represents both a break in Love, Victor’s narrative structure and a new friend for Victor. In the episode “Sincerely, Rahim,” Rahim takes over the narration duties as he composes his own letter but to Victor. It’s a great opportunity to meet another character struggling with his own coming out journey and to let Victor play a bit of the mentor role he put Simon in. Keyvan is absolutely wonderful, with top-notch comedic timing that can seamlessly turn into expressions of his own insecurities and doubts. His chemistry with Cimino is a highlight, too. In fact, the show proves its best episodes involve playing hooky from school, as Victor and Rahim get to know each other better in the season’s penultimate episode, “Victor’s Day Off.” Some side-plots of the season that feel random, like Benji’s struggles with alcoholism, get more screen time than others, and Rahim definitely deserved more time to show his story on screen. In “Sincerely, Rahim,” Rahim mentions he doesn’t know how to tell his traditional parents he’s gay; in “Victor’s Day Off,” he tells Victor he told his parents the night before, and they took it well. Since season two also involves Isabel’s struggle with her faith and her son’s sexuality, more time exploring Rahim’s family alongside Victor’s would have been nice.
The rose-colored glasses Victor wore around Benji get broken down. As a result, Benji’s not just the love interest but a complicated, if at times, boring character. His exasperations toward Victor’s difficult family life and unwillingness to understand or empathize with his boyfriend not being accepted by his family feels at odds with season one Benji. By season’s end, character’s relationships with each other are somehow even more complex than when we started.
Love, Victor does have a cliffhanger issue. Waiting until the last possible second in season one for Victor to finally express his sexuality made a lot of his story in season one difficult to grasp, even as he’s explaining things to Simon. It also turns someone expressing who they are into a shock-worthy twist, even though it isn’t. The most interesting parts of a character are often not just a single moment in which a decision is made, but the aftermath of said decision. Similarly, season two introduces its most interesting dynamics in the last two episodes, hinges its whole emotional weight on them, and then doesn’t deliver.
The season does allow Victor to realize he’s capable of trusting his own instincts. Simon might not receive anymore DMs from Victor from now on, but perhaps this means they can be friends in the more traditional sense. Love, Victor season two sometimes has weird priorities, but its willingness to have frank conversations with characters who are clearly in the wrong, as well as expanding its LGBTQ characters, makes for a deeper, more meaningful season.
All episodes of Love, Victor season two are available on Hulu.