Review: 'Love, Victor' Grows Up and Moves On with Season 3

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday June 6, 2022

The gang's all here for one last cheer in 'Love, Victor', Season 3
The gang's all here for one last cheer in 'Love, Victor', Season 3  (Source:Hulu)

Hulu's "Love, Victor" — the spinoff series inspired by "Love, Simon" — comes to its conclusion in its third and final season. The series feels more sharply-written as its storylines resolve.

As Season Two ended, Victor's (Michael Cimino) relationship with Benji (George Sear) seemed in doubt, as Benji caught sight of Victor in a clench with new friend Rahim (Anthony Keyvan). Dashing off into the night, Victor made his choice between the two, turning up at the door of...

But let's not spoil that. Suffice to say, every choice has its consequences, and what comes next blindsides Victor in the most painful way possible. Worse, the guy he didn't choose is now monumentally pissed off at Victor, having been left to gaze wistfully out his window for a visit that never came.

Both Beni and Rahim play major roles in these final eight episodes, as Benji struggles to find balance in his life while Rahim finds himself shoved into the closet thanks to a visit by his uncle from Iran. Victor, meantime, is left to suffer by himself, having been told by an angry parent of one of his beaux that he's a harbinger of chaos.

That suffering doesn't last too long, though, in part because Victor is soon hooking up with others with the help of a dating app... not to mention the meddling of his newly PFLAG-attending mother, Isabelle (Ana Ortiz), who is so determined to make the world a better place for her gay son that she dumps her old, homophobic church and embraces an open and affirming one instead. While she's at it she makes friends with the parents of handsome young Nick (Nico Greetham). It's not long before Isabel is trying to play matchmaker; but how well do Nick and Victor get along? Well enough that they can't keep their hands off each other, whether they're in Nick's parents' car or Nick's back yard. Sometimes mother really does know best, but will a flame this hot last for long?

It doesn't hinder the quest to heal Victor's broken heart that he and the school's star jock, Andrew (Mason Gooding) — now a good friend and ally — take molly at a party. A sweet moment of bromantic hugging ensues, but Andrew is far too devoted to Mia (Rachel Hilson) for anyone else to turn his head. And speaking of Mia: In a fit of pique at her father (Mekhi Phifer) for daring to prioritize his career over her high school happiness (the cad! He accepts the presidency of an Ivy League university and now they have to move!), Mia seeks out her long-estranged mother, hoping for a reconciliation and, maybe, a wholly different life in which her needs come first. Andrew, supportive all the way, manages to be sweet and strong in equal measure, thanks to Gooding's blend of horndog charisma and tender devotion, but the course Mia charts is among the season's most erratic.

Another romance is flourishing between Victor's sister, Pilar (Isabella Ferreira), and his best friend, Felix (Anthony Turpel) — a relationship Pilar wants to keep secret. She has her reasons, and they propel the season's drama, but Felix has a hard time swallowing the lies he has to tell to honor her wishes, particularly since Isabelle and Armando (James Martinez) have more or less become his adoptive parents.

Felix's ex, Lake (Bebe Wood), has taken up with a new flame, too: Thankfully, that late-breaking flirtation with Lucy (Ava Capri) at the end of last season wasn't something the show's writers simply drop. Their romance has its own suite of ups and downs. That said, it's a fast-forward development, with intimations of Lucy's bad girl persona and troubled home life glossed over to the point of barely registering.

Indeed, Season Three shoehorns a lot into its fairly meager allotment of episodes — too much, really; it's inevitable that some relationships will feel underdeveloped, and some storylines have a rushed, truncated quality. The various resolutions to the show's long-running sources of tension — Lake's perfectionist mother always making her feel inadequate, for instance; Mia's resentments about her dad's careerism; and even Victor and Benji's rollercoaster ride of a relationship — happen pretty much as you expect they would. They're handled gracefully, but don't always feel entirely earned.

That said, the show's humor is better than ever, and the best one-liners more equitably distributed. It used to be the case that Victor and Pilar's kid brother Adrian (Mateo Fernandez) got all the best laughs, but he's barely seen this season, so the writers seemingly have permission to parcel out the witticisms.

This feels like a more mature show, too, though in some ways that maturity seems a bit over the top: In one episode we see the male characters at an upscale restaurant, apparently sipping cocktails, while two of the female characters drink wine while cooking dinner. These teens are so precociously gifted at the privileged minutiae of upper-middle-class suburban life that their adolescent travails sometimes don't quite fit.

That said, the more mature approach also allows for greater realism in both matters of the heart and the way parents handle their kids' growing up. "Don't have sex in my car," Benji's father warns at one point, tossing his keys to his son and Benji's date; "I just had it detailed."

Among the season's cleverest moments is this super-quick reference to the show's own origins: When Victor, taking it on himself to reach out to a closeted classmate, exclaims that he "could be his Simon!," the response he gets is: "Whatever happened to him?"

Whatever, indeed. "Love, Victor" has grown into its own story — just in time for the story to end, alas. But this cast of likable characters have, like the series, come into their own; they will thrive just fine in fans' imaginations.

The third and final season of "Love, Victor" premieres on Hulu and Disney+ June 15.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.