Love, Victor Season 3 Gives Fans What They Want, But Was It Too Late?
Love, Victor gets to where fans want it to go in the end but in the process it also sells the journey short.
This article contains spoilers for Love, Victor season 3.
When Love, Victor first premiered on Hulu in June of 2020, it became a special show for so many LGBTQ people, both young and old, because it showed the coming-of-age trope from a whole different perspective than what audiences were accustomed to. Rather than being pushed to the background as a sidekick, Victor Salazar (Michael Cimino) is the star of the whole shebang, the Latino teenager that we put all of our attention towards. Queer characters have often served as the sidekicks in TV, but shows like Love, Victor have changed the way non-straight people serve the narrative of their programs.
Victor’s acceptance of himself as a gay teenager has always been tied to his crush on classmate and eventual co-worker Benji Campbell (George Sear). In the very first episode of the show, Victor realizes that he feels things for Benji that are much different than what he feels for girls. It takes the first seven episodes of the first season before the two share their first kiss, and it’s in the season finale when they declare themselves boyfriends.
This set up a hotly anticipated second season for fans of the “Venji” relationship. We expected to see Victor and Benji explore their sexuality, learn about what makes each other tick, and show young people watching how gay teenagers can overcome their issues like any straight couple would. And while we saw some of that in the first half of the second season, in a controversial move, the writers of the show introduced another gay character, Rahim (Anthony Keyvan) to create a love triangle.
It was a move that had good intentions, such as showing how the coming out process is different for everyone depending on their family life, their religious background, and their ethnicity. Victor and Rahim connect over many of their similarities, but they never feel like anything more than a forced attempt at drama. The cliffhanger that ended the season in which Victor runs to one of either Benji or Rahim’s homes to “choose” who he is going to be with was an ill-advised way to maintain intrigue in the year-long hiatus, frustrating fans of the show who just wanted to see Victor and Benji grow happily together.
The good news is that the third season immediately opens with Victor at Benji’s door. They’re back together, right? Not exactly. The stress of Victor leaving him caused Benji to break his sobriety that has been touched upon a couple of times in the previous seasons, but never explored further until this third season. Benji realizes that Victor exacerbates his drinking issues, and he goes off to rehab after the premiere episode. So here you have Victor and Benji separated again, disappointing fans who want to see the tangible on-screen evidence that they are a great pairing.
The rest of the season goes exactly how we all expected it would. Victor and Benji have introspective healing that is necessary for them to come back together in the series finale, which they do on the iconic ferris wheel that was first introduced in the film Love, Simon. But you know that age-old adage that the journey is more important than the destination? The writers of this show didn’t really get that memo. The growth that occurs that allows for the Venji ship to eventually become an endgame is done on an individual level. There is no proof that the two teen boys are right for each other when the final credits roll.
Victor learns that he isn’t interested in hook-up culture after his mother introduces him to a hot church boy in the area named Nick (Nico Greetham). They have a fling that transitions to a good discussion on casual intercouse, sexually transmitted diseases, and committment. Victor is pushed back to Benji because he realizes that there just isn’t the same spark with anyone else.
Benji’s part of the story is something we have been begging for since the show began. No longer just Victor’s boyfriend, we finally get to learn about some of the hardships he experienced through flashback clips. Benji became an alcoholic as a way to cope with the homophobia that his father put him through in the years before the show. Rehab helps him, but when he thinks Victor has moved on to someone else (Nick) he decides it’s time to move away from Creekwood High and start fresh. This is a move that is encouraged by his father, once again showing that Mr. Campbell doesn’t really have a pulse for what makes his son happy.
Benji decides that the happiness he feels with Victor can be greater than the stress that also comes with their relationship. And while this epiphany is much-needed, it doesn’t allow for the pair to breath and grow and become something more. The series is over now, canceled by Hulu in a rash decision that once again makes the TV landscape a little less queer. And we leave these characters with the idea of Venji in our minds rather than actually seeing it in action. Across the three seasons of the show, the two characters are only actually happily together for about five episodes in season two.
Contrast this with the way Netflix’s mega-hit Heartstopper used its entire first season to display the beauty of gay love in its entirety. Main characters Nick and Charlie enjoy milkshakes together. The two play rugby, make snow angels, bowl with friends, and walk along the beach under the summer sun. It’s vital to show gay people enjoying these small pleasentries in a relationship. These tiny moments of enjoying someone’s company is what finding love is all about.
Love, Victor focuses on the big subjects, such as alcoholism and dating apps, but the show leaves us without actually showing whether Victor and Benji are good for each other or not. They tell us they are together, but they don’t show us that it’s the right choice. In this way, it creates a melancholy feeling of what could have been. The show’s legacy will be that they hit the big home runs when they had to, exploring topics that LGBTQ+ youth need to see on-screen and choosing the relationship that the fans wanted to come to fruition. They also fail to capture the substance behind such a relationship, which means the program will be one of the bigger what-ifs in modern queer storytelling.
All eight episodes of Love, Victor season 3 are available to stream on Hulu now.