Cher isn’t the only one with a wish to turn back time.
We’ve all pondered what it might be like to return to high school — with the caveat that we would know then what we know now. Many of us might not have waited to come out, avoided that toxic first boyfriend or made similarly life-changing choices.
That’s just a silly fantasy, of course, but “Love, Victor,” the new series from Hulu, offers a look at contemporary teen life — but these angst-filled teens know everything we know now, thanks to the internet.
Based on the groundbreaking theatrical release “Love, Simon,” the streaming series is much less sequel and more spin-off.
Victor (Michael Cimino), a new student at Creekwood High School, the high school featured in the movie, undertakes his own journey of self-discovery, facing challenges at home, adjusting to a new city, and struggling with his sexual orientation.
Simon (Nick Robinson) has become somewhat of a celebrity at his high school alma mater becomes Victor’s pen pal and spirit guide, thanks to email and Twitter.
Over the course of 10 30-minute episodes (all available for binge watching on June 19), Victor must cope with the cross-country move from Texas and revelations about a parent’s marital infidelity, all while navigating the halls and unwritten social strata of a wealthy and surprisingly diverse suburban school outside Atlanta.
The series, from “This Is Us” executive producers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, who wrote the movie, proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the old adage goes.
Despite Simon’s heroic first kiss atop the ferris wheel to the cheers of fellow students at the winter carnival, the term “gay” is still a slur in the locker room. The mean girls are still mean, but their sharp-tongued gossip travels further than the cafeteria doors via blogs and social media posts. The student body is still divided into popular kids and the other castes. Victor and his sister Pilar (Isabella Ferreira) are not distinguished by their skin color or heritage, but their perceived “poverty.”
Surprisingly, the one out kid at the school, Benji (George Sear), is a handsome and stylish stud who is a part-time barista and plays in a band. He’s cool and Victor is smitten, but cannot bring himself to admit his affection, let alone open himself up to judgement by his peers.
None of the storylines are new in this updated “ABC After School Special.” (Disney also owns Hulu, but passed on the series for its own streaming channel, citing family friendliness issues.) And these types of idealized coming out stories have been the centerpieces of LGBT film festivals for decades.
What does make the series work is the onscreen charisma of Cimino. He connects with the audience and very quickly has them rooting for his success, no matter what telenovela-esque twists his story takes. Will Victor find love with the boy of his dreams? No spoilers here, but let’s just say writers are working on season two.
“Love, Victor” premieres on Hulu on June 19. For more information or to subscribe, go to Hulu.com.