'Love, Victor' Season 3: TV Review
(4/5) Teen Melodrama Done Right.
Love, Victor’s final season premiered on Hulu last week, and this viewer steamrolled through it in a couple of days. I ultimately found it to be a strong, funny, and moving season, the culmination of the series’ continued foray into more adult topics and themes. I find it impressive how Love, Victor manages to tackle difficult topics while still maintaining its vibrant and celebratory tone, where the beauty of queerness and the joy of friendship are at the forefront. It’s also been a real wonder to watch Michael Cimino command the screen as Victor for three seasons. It’s a performance so effortlessly good that you might not even notice how excellent he is - every moment he’s on-screen, he lights it up with earnestness and truth. Across the board, every character really came into their own this season.
In many shows where it feels like there are only a couple of strong, complex characters out of the bunch, Love, Victor has managed to lend complexity and nuance to all of them (except for one unfortunately weak character, a result of some less than average acting skills). Even Benji, who I’ve found increasingly insufferable, is lent some crucial depth this season. Through flashbacks, we understand his struggles with his parents and his addiction, providing much-needed context for his decisions. Another major improvement in this season is that Victor’s parents’ storyline, the weakest of the series, was thankfully put on the back burner. Formerly, their on-off relationship was a central storyline, along with their rocky journey to accepting Victor’s sexuality. But at last, these storylines are tied up with a bow, and the parents take a backseat to let the ensemble of kids take center stage. This allowed for the full cast of teen characters to flourish and shine, each of them given the time and nuance they deserve.
The season bounces from scene to scene effortlessly, each narrative thread is interesting and compelling this season, something I find rare in shows with such large ensembles and so many moving pieces. With its glossy, soap opera cinematography and often over-the-top storylines, it's pure and juicy teen melodrama at its best. It’s an easy binge, but beneath it, there are life lessons and genuine emotional resonance. This season delves the deepest into adult topics, including alcoholism, STDs, religion, strained parent-child relationships, and mental health. It was beautiful to see Lake (the wonderful Bebe Wood), embrace her queerness through her relationship with Lucy. And as a former Lake and Felix shipper, I enjoyed how the series allowed them to have healthy conversations about their friendship post-breakup.
In the wake of Euphoria, whose second season was a case of trying so hard to be dark and edgy that it felt deeply inauthentic, the Heartstoppers and Love, Victors of the world are breaths of fresh air. We need happy queer stories, ones that are allowed to be fun and gooey and heartwarming. Love, Victor is all of this, while acknowledging the reality of the teen experience. They balance heavy topics with a lighthearted tone brilliantly. The teens drink, they try drugs, they have conversations about their sexuality, they get in fights. But this group of friends has been a joy to watch, and this final season does a brilliant and moving job of showing the power of friendship, family, and love. The final scene of the series is an emotional callback to Love, Simon. It’s cheesy, and I’m not sure if I would have had a certain two people end up back together, but it works for the most part. A queer love story got a happy ending, something we need more of.