This season finds Victor going on a journey of self-discovery — not only deciding who he wants to be with, but more broadly, who he wants to be. With their post-high-school-plans looming, Victor and his friends are faced with a new set of problems that they must work through to make the best choices for their futures.
In a year which birthed the cultural phenomenon that is Heartstopper it would be difficult for any other queer property to make such an impact. But this month the small-screen quasi-sequel to Becky Albertalli’s Love, Simon reaches a rocky conclusion to its three-season run.
In its first season Love, Victor struggled to make cultural waves by retreading the steps of its predecessor. Opting for a coming out story rather than to focus on its lead (Michael Cimino). His life as an out-and-proud Latino could easily have broken new ground. But whilst his coming out was still an important part of the journey, it’s the aspect of queer life which gets the most screen time.
In its second season, Love, Victor gave fans what they craved. Transcending all tropes to focus on Victor’s life. Family issues sat alongside his burgeoning first love. All the while his decision to live an authentic life sitting at its core. Surrounded with well cast supporting players, the series edged itself towards groundbreaking territory.
In its third season the show has become something else. An ensemble piece which puts its queerness alongside other characters struggles. On the one hand, it gives the writers chance to craft fitting conclusions to all the series’ characters. It also normalises the queer experience. Giving it the same level of importance as any other story. But in a market where true out-and-proud queer stories are relegated to indie projects (or Netflix), the groundbreaking aspects of Love, Victor feel devalued.
Jumping straight off the conclusion to season 2, opening episode “It’s You” answers the question of who was behind the door. The answer is both satisfying and perplexing when given the context which plays out following the reveal. The writers certainly know how to twist the knife when it comes to shippers of these characters.
With episodes like “The Setup” and “You Up?”, the series experiments structurally and physically with its formula. Exploring different aspects of Victor’s journey and allowing Cimino to enjoy himself a little more. With the episode “Agent of Chaos” the series even toys with the idea of transplanting Victor in to the Simon role of gay-mentor.
As far back as the pilot episode, Love, Victor prioritised Victor’s feelings for Benji (George Sear). Thankfully the writers haven’t forgotten that. Their story is tactfully, if melodramatically, handled and allows for a fitting conclusion. Along the way their paths allow for both characters to explore more of who they are both together and separately. Ultimately the chemistry between Cimino and Sear is undeniable and the writers never forget it.
Elsewhere Felix (Anthony Turpel) and Victor’s sister Pilar (Isabella Ferreira) have their own frustrating issues to contend with. A new subplot finds Lake (Bebe Wood) exploring her sexuality which, whilst insightful, never feels earned or fully realised. Instead, the whole season is hugely buoyed with outstanding performances from both James Martinez and Ana Ortiz as Victor’s reunited parents.
Arguably the third season deals its worst hand to Mia (Rachel Hilson) and Andrew (Mason Gooding). Mia is relegated to a story device for pure frustration. Indecisive about her present or her future, she spends much of the season changing her mind. The lack of character commitment is compounded by wasting the fantastic Gooding. Andrew follows Mia through countless changes of heart and is robbed of owning his own resolution.
In the press the writers confessed ending the show with the casts graduation from high school felt “organic”. But Love, Victor season 3 feels like a race to the finish line which packs a little too heavily for its 8 episode baggage allowance. That being said, the closing moments of the finale undeniably warm the heart. Leaving the viewer with a sense of hope for the future. After all, the story should always end at the Winter Carnival…
Despite some structural issues, the final season of Love, Victor succeeds in warming hearts and wrapping up three seasons of storytelling providing a fitting send-off to Creekwood’s young residents.
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