There is so much involved in the “coming out” process. Victor Salazar has successfully come out to his schoolmates as well as his family, and while that is a great relief to him, he only now discovers that there is so much more involved. Now, he’s looking to try and find that acceptance he so desperately desires. Acceptance from his basketball teammates (they love having him on the court as their star player, but not use the same locker room and shower stalls), acceptance from his ex-girlfriend (he does still care for her), and most of all, acceptance from his family. We see the struggle on his face. But coming out is not limited to people who are LGBTQ. It is the process of learning to accept one’s self, and self-acceptance means disposing of the masks we wear, and those masks include the one that Victor’s best friend Felix wears, as well as the one his boyfriend Benji wears. This is one of the hallmarks of this brilliant series and the issues that were presented in this second season. Because Felix had issues with throwing away his mask he encountered relationship problems with his girlfriend Lake. Benji, hiding behind his mask of not being a recovering alcoholic (which implies so many problems with Benji’s road to recovery) has all but destroyed his relationship with Victor. These are real-world issues that Love, Victor has the opportunity to address. While Love, Simon did an amazing job looking at gay teens trying to discover who they are, having a series like Love, Simon allows for so many more points to be looked at, and each of them that were addressed did so with enormous respect and honesty. One specifically is the process that Victor’s mother Isabel went through to find that acceptance. I do remember predicting that Victor’s coming out would help repair the relationship between his parents, Armando and Isabel. However, I expected it to be done in an almost cliché manner that would ultimately sweep the issues dividing his parents under the rug. Instead, the showrunners took the honest approach and throughout the entire season witnessed the process that each of them goes through, which delivered a far more emotionally satisfying resolution that could strengthen that family unit, which is something Victor might very well need in the (hopefully) third season.
The performances of James Martinez and Ana Ortiz were wonderfully done and beautifully paint the problems that married couples sometimes go through. There is also the amazing Michael Cimino as Victor. Many young people who come out as part of the LGBTQ community come to realize that while they ditch one particular problem (the aforementioned self-acceptance) they now have to face a potentially dizzying world of new problems. This second season put a spotlight on those new problems Victor had to contend with, and the most important one is his relationship with his mother. The scenes they shared were intense and for a young actor like Cimino to deliver that controlled intensity is amazing. Then there is Anthony Turpel as Felix. In the first three episodes we see the enormous weight he is carrying alone and throughout this season we see it slowly erode and eat at him until he finally breaks down in a scene that nearly had me sobbing. Felix finally threw away his mask of being “enough” that was needed to take care of his mother and home life and that was a mask he had been wearing for far too long as evidenced by his emotional breakdown. The performances from each of these young actors are remarkable, which is another credit to the amazing showrunners for having assembled this talented cast.
There are many more issues that this series has the potential of tackling and it is my greatest hope that Hulu gives the green light for a third season. What they have done so far is merely the tip of the iceberg, and just as there is a wide spectrum of people who make up the LGBTQ community, there is an even wider spectrum of issues and talking points that Love, Victor has the opportunity to address. This is a series that hasn’t been afraid so far to take risks and I hope it will continue to show the same degree of courage with new issues and ideas in future seasons.