Season 2 answers the question: “What happens after coming out?” It’s a question less touched upon than “Am I gay?” Mass media seems to treat coming out as a singular hurdle to overcome. No. When you’re not straight, you’re constantly coming out (if you so choose or are forced to), over and over again, constantly dealing with how different environments and people treat your queerness. Love, Victor season 2 explores that, making this season much more complicated, compelling, and mature than the first.
We begin with Victor in his “perfect summer bubble”. Things at home are still rocky, but Victor’s social and romantic life are pretty much perfect. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Victor must return to school and come out to everyone. In a slightly cringeworthy but unfortunately necessary moment, Victor stands on a chair and proclaims to the school hallways that he’s gay. It’s a bittersweet moment: bitter because he has to open himself up to all kinds of scrutiny and bigotry because that’s the world we live in, and sweet because he finally gets to be himself and be openly happy with Benji.
Some begin to treat him as if he was their certified Gay Best Friend. Others ostracize him, specifically the basketball team. Victor must decide if he wants to be part of a team who won’t accept him (luckily most of them do in the end). This is where one of the first wedges is driven between Benji and Victor: Benji generalizes all sports teams and players as straight, stereotypically masculine dumb jocks. But Victor still identifies with them because he loves basketball and he’s talented at it; it’s a part of his identity -- one of the parts Benji struggles to accept. (Fortunately, Benji comes to support it later.)
Benji also doesn’t like how homophobic Victor’s mother is. Her struggle accepting Victor’s sexuality is arguably the heart of the season. Isabel loves Victor, but she’s a devout Catholic raised to believe being gay is a sin. Victor’s dad Armando, however, is taking Victor’s sexuality fairly well. It takes Isabel a long time to accept Victor -- she is rude toward Benji and distances herself from Victor. Thankfully, she ultimately acknowledges that she was brought up to believe incorrect ideas, and Victor is still the kindest, most wonderful son in the world, she loves him, and his sexuality will never change that.
Benji becomes more than the perfect hot gay guy that Victor was pining for this season. He’s not as perfect as he seems. Far from it. Although Victor knows about Benji’s accident because of his drinking, it’s revealed later in the season that Benji was an alcoholic, is now sober, and goes to AA meetings. Him hiding this huge part of his life from Victor leads to their breakup. The biggest problem between them is that Benji is ignorant toward Victor’s struggles overall -- he admits he doesn’t like all the handholding Victor needs through every gay experience and that he doesn’t like the way his mother treats him. Benji has the privilege of being white and having more liberal parents.
Then this season introduces a delightful new character named Rahim, the only other gay boy (that we’re aware of) at Creekwood. He comes to Victor seeking advice about coming out. Victor suddenly becomes to Rahim what Simon was to him; the student becomes the master. The two form a strong friendship that begins to turn into something more.
Rahim brings something to the table that Benji never did: he can relate to Victor’s cultural experiences. While their cultural differences drove a wedge between Victor and Benji, the cultural similarities tie Victor and Rahim together. Rahim understands being a POC, a child of immigrants who are part of a religion that’s historically homophobic, just like Victor. This is something Benji may never understand.
While Victor deals with his family and romance troubles, his friends are facing their own issues.
Mia feels like a fifth wheel for much of the season. Poor girl is still going through it. Luckily, she gets a supportive boyfriend in Andrew to be her rock while she’s dealing with her father getting married to a new woman, her father having a baby with said woman, moving across the country for her dad’s job, and her mother contacting her out of the blue. I hope that Mia gets a solid scrap of happiness next season. Maybe we’ll finally get some answers from her mom about why she left.
This season also delves into more of Felix’s backstory and home life, one of the most heartbreaking plotlines of the season. We watch the usually upbeat, carefree Felix forced to become the responsible adult in his home and caretaker for his mother who has bipolar disorder. And then, forced to rely on others for money and shelter when his mother is committed. Luckily, he has a strong support system.
I appreciated how the show didn’t sugarcoat Felix’s mom’s mental illness. It was unflinchingly raw in its portrayal of her depression, her manic episodes, and the way that affects her and Felix’s lives. However, the show doesn’t vilify her either. Felix loves his mother and believes in her. She is a loving mother in return and that love is ultimately what motivates her to work at recovering.
Meanwhile, Pilar crushes on Felix while he’s in a relationship with Lake. The seeds were sewn for Felix and Pilar’s friendship in season 1, deepening in season 2. Pilar supports him through his struggles with his mom’s condition. When he has to choose between Lake and Pilar, he chooses Pilar. Usually in these scenarios a character will choose the first person they were with -- the second love interest was simply a plot device to make them realize how much they loved the first. But in this case, Felix’s friendship with Pilar was so strong that he decided he wanted to be with her more. I’m interested to see what their relationship will be like.
Now, Lake is single. We get a tiny scene between her and Andrew’s ex Lucy at the end of the season, hinting that Lake might be bisexual. I was pleasantly surprised at this suggestion and am left wondering how the image-obsessed Lake would handle being in a relationship with another woman. Finally, another possible queer relationship! There are too many straight relationships for a show about being gay.
Love, Victor season 2 ends on another huge cliffhanger. After Rahim admits his feelings and kisses Victor, and Benji arrives looking to get back together, Victor is left with a major decision: who should he be with? He seemingly makes a decision and rushes to a house. Whose doorstep is Victor at in the final shot? We’ll have to wait until season 3 to find out.
Love, Victor is streaming on Hulu now.