Wednesday, June 17, 2020

REVIEW: 'Love, Victor' - Victor Hopes to Find Himself After Moving With His Family to Atlanta in 'Welcome to Creekwood'

Hulu's Love, Victor - Episode 1.01 "Welcome to Creekwood"

Victor arrives at Creekwood excited to start his new life.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Hulu's Love, Victor.

"Welcome to Creekwood" was written by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger and directed by Amy York Rubin

Hulu's Love, Victor is set in the same universe as the 2018 feature film Love, Simon. The creative team wants the audience to always be aware of that fact. It wants the comfort that comes from the same basic structure of the story and the overall heartwarming tone of its coming-of-age narrative. However, it simultaneously wants the audience to know that this is a profoundly different story. Victor claps back at Simon by saying that his story is completely different. It's not the seemingly perfect coming out that Simon had in his life. Victor faces pressure after coming from a world that wasn't kind to people who wanted to step outside the status quo of the heteronormative narrative. He also argues that Simon had the privilege of coming out and being accepted by everyone because of his socioeconomic status of not really having to worry about anything else. That isn't like Victor's life at all. His family may have just moved to Atlanta. However, they feel the pressure to afford everything that now defines this new world of possibilities. It's not long before Victor realizes that this school is nothing like the one back in Texas. The people may be more accepting of different backgrounds and identities. However, the pressure is still intense to be seen in a certain mold. Stories are co-opted because of some perception of greater meaning. The entire high school community now seemingly idolizes Simon's first kiss with Bram atop the ferris wheel. That was the climax of the movie. It's the crescendo of this premiere as well. During the first day of school, Victor meets several students. Some become friends. Some become cocky adversaries. The pressure is on for him to define himself. He feels that at every second of every day. The narrative would seem to suggest that he will ask the out student Benji to join him on the ferris wheel. That assumption is built up because the direction slows down as Victor stares at him. That happens on a couple of instances. It's not clear what exactly is underneath with Benji and his personality. Him being gay is the only characteristic anyone could say about him at this point. Of course, Victor is the only character with even a notion of nuance to him after this first episode. He is trying to figure out his identity. He finds a pen pal to help him along this journey. Simon offers nothing but support knowing that this community can be great and accepting. Victor should be given the freedom to explore who he is. That amounts to him asking Mia to join him on the ferris wheel. It's the story that suggests he continues wanting to fit in and be accepted by his peers because of the pressures he feels all around him. He proclaims that Simon's story isn't his. He is right in that regard. Every life is different. Simon and Bram are still together years after graduating from this high school. They have formed a life together. Simon is offering a compassionate voice to Victor when he believes he doesn't have anyone else who can fill that void for him. That is sweet. Everything about this show right now has that sentimental tone to it. It's similar to the film in that way. Of course, that can easily grow grating over time because everything is incredibly one note. Sure, it's absolutely engaging to see how the creative team is using some of the critiques of the film to further enhance this new telling of the story. As such, more struggles are made apparent to better explore how difficult acceptance with one's identity can truly be. Victor feels that he has to be the rock his family needs. That can strengthen the mentality though that any problem he has or need to voice his truth is less vital or valid than his sister's rebellion and parents' marriage problems in this new city. So much complexity can be found in that setup. The show suggests something truly engaging with that here. The execution just appears lacking when it comes to revealing a fully realized world that can speak to young audiences while telling a meaningful story. Certain developments happen just so the show can offer a basic foundation for how these characters relate to one another. Victor is new to town but he is quickly offered a best friend in Felix and valid crushes with both Mia and Benji. It's very engaged in his world. For the show to succeed though, it will have to expand that focus so that it's not so self-involved with one particular storytelling interest.