Love, Victor, or do I?

Victor and his love interests

Photo Courtesy of Hulu

Victor and his love interests

Kaylee Powell, Staff Writer

After Love, Simon came out I finally started reading. Shocking, I know, but I generally can’t focus on a book long enough to finish it but Becky Albertalli’s writing was very captivating. It was so captivating that I then read Leah on the offbeat so when I heard a new TV show with the same premise was coming out I was very excited, even though I had to wait until June to watch it.

The first season of Love, Victor aired June 17, 2020 and I finished watching it in two days. So you can only imagine my happiness when the second season was announced. I was a bit upset that I had to wait until next June but it was OK because the cliffhanger of the last season where Victor stood in front of his family and came out was very gripping.

Two months ago I opened Hulu to see “Love, Victor Watch all 10 Episodes Now” and I clicked right away to feel myself transported back into the awkward situation that is coming out. I liked almost everything about the show. The drama felt real, the reactions were interesting, and the characters are likable, for the most part.

My obvious least favorite character was Victor’s mom, Isabel. She was homophobic for the first few episodes and eventually makes a recovery when she helps out Victor. I think I need to wait a bit longer before I let her fully out of the dog house.

To start with, she clearly is very uncomfortable with Benji and saying the word boyfriend. In the first episode, she nearly choked on a chip after Benji said it. Then, in the second episode, she gets in Victor’s head about how students are probably homophobic and he can’t take back what he said. Honestly, it feels like she’s just projecting. She couldn’t even say she supported her son when he was practically begging her. She was also clearly more comfortable with another child being gay rather than her own son.

But my actual least favorite character, the character I hate the most, the character that almost made me turn off this show was the love interest, Benji. Every single episode, he gets on my last nerve and if it weren’t for the amazing side characters and Victor’s more enjoyable love interest, Raheem, I would’ve turned this show off. He makes a few recoveries at the end of the episodes but then will immediately mess up in the opening of the next episode.

Here is my break down for each episode and Benji’s actions:

Episode 1- The mother is clearly uncomfortable with the situation, thus making Victor uncomfortable,  but instead of trying to make sure his boyfriend more comfortable, Benji goes out of the way to call Victor his boyfriend. This causes Isabel to react in a harsh manner and snap at Victor making the awkward situation more awkward.

Episode 2- Benji is unsympathetic when Victor isn’t ready to tell everyone he’s gay, in fact, he rolls his eyes and says “whenever you want” when he said he wasn’t ready. Later on in the episode, he understands Victor’s hesitation which I was glad about until a few episodes later when he blows up about how hard it is having to deal with Victor’s baggage.

Episode 3/5- Victor is asked to change in a different locker room because him being gay makes the other boys feel uncomfortable. This ends with him quitting the team. At first, Benji was empathetic because he’s had to deal with bigoted people before. It’s sweet and helpful until he continues to say it’s for the best to a point where you can see it annoys Victor. Then, he starts bashing the whole basketball team with his other queer friends and this clearly make Victor very uncomfortable, but he keeps going. Benji starts talking about how happy it is to never have to sit with the basketball girlfriends and do the whole dance. Benji makes a recovery when he shows up to the basketball games and apologizes to Victor, and even does the dance for Victor. Cute, I guess. It still upsets me that his boyfriend was visibly upset, but Benji had to prove to his queer friends that he was cool and doesn’t like the sterotypical jock.

Episode 4- In this episode, nothing really annoying happens. He’s actually kind of nice in this episode and says that he’ll help Victor through the gay stuff, which only last a few episodes.

Episode 6- This is the episode that really annoys me. Victor is trying to see the good in his mother and Benji just rains on his parade. Victor tells Benji that she’s trying tp be open about them being gay, but Benji keeps telling him not to get his hopes up because she’s not nice to him or Victor but is nice to Raheem. This is a valid argument but Victor is clearly happy so just let him be and have that conversation later.  Again, he apologises, but then he literally starts the problem again 10 seconds later which Victor points out causing Benji to have an attitude. Once again they’re fighting, nothing new. I’m tired of their fights, they’re not compatible and I wish they’d stop trying to force it.

Episode 7- Benji’s mom invites Victor to Benji’s dinner and as soon as he gets there Benji has a sour attitude. Victor tries to break the awkwardness by saying a funny joke that lands flat. To make the night even worse, the mom gives a toast that exposes Benji for being a recovering alcoholic. This causes a fight between Victor and Benji.

Victor’s argument is that Benji has constantly pushed him into being open about himself but now Benji won’t be open.  Benji’s rebuttal is: “I’ve put up with a ton of your sh*t and I’ve never complained about it.” Then he gets on Victor about being new to being gay, something he previously said he was ok with in episode 4. Then he asked “Did I ever make you feel guilty about any of that stuff?” and my answer is yes, in every single episode. If I didn’t already dislike Benji so much, I would’ve been able to see the middle ground in that argument given that being in Alcoholics Anonymous is a sensitive topic, but the way Benji handled that situation really upset me. So here we are, at the end of an episode, with another apology except this apology is just a makeout session.

Episode 8- This episode starts off a bit differently than the other ones after the make out session from the last episode turns into a sex scene between Benji and Victor. The scene only lasts a few seconds though because Isabel walks in on them. She is rightfully upset on accounts that Victor’s younger brother is in the room right next to them. In classic Benji fashion, he only makes it worse. When Isabel refers to sex as “that,” he responds “what do you mean by that?”, Implying that the only reason Isabel is upset was because it was gay sex. He continues to argue with Isabel and ultimately outs Victor to his brother.  Victor had already agreed with his mom that he was OK with waiting to tell his brother. I think isabel would’ve been upset no matter the gender of the person Victor was having sex with, but Benji just felt the need to argue, making life harder for Victor.

Later on in the episode Benji is upset because Isabel hasn’t apologized. At this point, Benji should just have pre-written apology letters because this is getting out of hand. We are nine minutes and two fights into this episode and I’m screaming “JUST BREAK UP ALREADY” at my computer. If a relationship consists of apologies everyday, I think that it requires a bigger conversation. I hate that Victor is the one reaching out to Benji this entire episode and Benji just ignores him.

The third fight of the episode starts when Benji and his sponsor are hugging and this throws Victor off. Because Benji was M.I.A. all day, Victor was worried he fell off the wagon. Benji says this is the reason he didn’t want to tell Victor he was in A.A. and said, “I feel like all we do is fight.” I agree with that statement. They look at a picture on Victor’s phone and then Raheem sends a poorly timed text. This makes Victor reveal that he told Raheem about his drinking and this causes them to finally “take a break.” As I scream “FINALLY” at my poor computer screen the episode turns off.

Episode 9: He wasn’t in this episode except for the few mentions. THANK GOD.

Episode 10: Benji bails out of being Victor’s date to a side character’s wedding. To be honest, Victor should’ve seen that coming. What Benji should’ve seen coming was that Victor would bring someone else instead.  Isabel reaches out to apologize to Benji and says she doesn’t want to be the reason they break up. She gives him a good pep talk that makes him run back to Victor. I hope he was too late.  Benji walks in on the awkward dancing and starts making Victor feel bad about him inviting a new person and then angrily walks away.

In every single episode, Benji manages to annoy me, even when he apologises it doesn’t feel sincere because it’s always followed up by some other problem.  On the other hand, Raheem, Victor’s new love interest, is way more enjoyable. He’s not introduced until halfway into the second season but I immediately fell in love with him. There was always chemistry with Victor and Raheem. It’s breathtaking, like I actually stopped breathing because I was laughing so hard. Compared to Benji, Raheem is a godsend.

Here’s a breakdown of Raheem’s greatness:

Episode 6: This episode opens with Raheem reaching out to Victor the same way Victor reached out to Simon. It was cute, we’ve seen him in the background before but this is our first formal introduction. When they first formally meet they immediately bond and Pilar, Victor’s sister, already knows they’re going to fall in love with each other. They better fall in love because based on their first interaction they’re meant for each other.

Episode 7: Raheem makes a lot of funny quips and gives Victor a quick makeover and it is the cutest thing ever! I have never felt happy watching Benji and Victor, but this is adorable and I smiled the entire scene. We also get to see Raheem outside of a relationship with Victor, something we don’t get with Benji. I enjoy seeing Raheem as his own character and not as a character plot for Victor.

Episode 8: Raheem overhears Victor on the phone and consoles him. Raheem immediately guesses what’s wrong and is right on the dime. These two are so compatible when Raheem says something, Victor immediately agrees, and vice versa. The only thing Benji and Victor have in common is that they’re both gay dudes that work at a coffee shop.

Episode 9: Raheem is insanely funny, everything he says is relatable, and he even helps Victor out by skipping school with him. They spend the entire day on an adventure. This gives them the perfect opportunity to bond. They make up random holidays and excuses not to go to school and for the entirety of the episode, I was smiling so hard because this is what a cute loving relationship should look like. He distracts Victor from Benji by taking him to his favorite restaurant. I think he and Raheem had deeper conversations in a week of knowing each other than Victor and Benji have had in over a year. Even when Raheem seems to have a new love life, Victor is very supportive and when it goes south, he’s even more supportive. The two of them then end up in a gay club which is perfect for many more funny jokes and scenes. AND THEN THEY SING!! Have Victor and Benji ever sang together? I’m really asking because if they did it was not memorable at all.

Episode 10: Raheem goes to the wedding with Victor. The two of them eat oysters and awkwardly fumble over dance moves when Benji walks in. After another spat with Benji, Raheem comes around the corner and confesses his love for Victor, KISSES him, and leaves. He then tells him “you know where I live.” I audibly screamed in excitement and joy. The episode ends with Victor running to either Raheem or Benji’s house.

Honestly I hope Victor ends up with Raheem. He’s a more enjoyable character and I can actually stand his character for not being a total jerk to Victor and understanding his problems. The majority of Victor and Benji’s conversations were just arguments. There were not enough cute moments between Benji and Victor for this to even be considered a romcom to me. So when season 3 starts and we figure out who’s house he ran to, you can already guess who I hope it is.