Love, Victor is back for a second season – and this time, the show isn’t afraid to tackle gay sex, homophobia and parental acceptance.
The trailblazing series follows gay teenager Victor Salazar (Michael Cimino) as he comes to terms with his sexuality. Along the way, he finds love with Benji (George Sear), has a reckoning with his mother (Ana Ortiz), and faces homophobia in sport. All in all, Love, Victor‘s second season is much more grown up than the first – and it’s all the better for it.
“With season two, we pick up where we left off with Victor and Benji in this summer bubble, this kind of honeymoon period, and all the amazing highs you get with your first love where it’s just so passionate,” Sear tells PinkNews. “And then high school starts and it bursts the summer bubble a little bit, and Victor faces some of the difficult realities of coming out in high school in America today.”
Right from the star, Love, Victor‘s second season is unafraid to show its two main stars kissing, holding hands, and even sleeping together. Both Cimino and Sear are straight, but the chemistry they exude on-screen is undeniable – and that intimacy came naturally to both actors. In fact, it came so naturally that they turned down the chance to have an intimacy co-ordinator on set to help stage their sex scenes.
“We didn’t want an intimacy coach or anything like that – they offered us one, but we just decided to keep it between us two because we felt like we had the connection there,” Sear says. “And we didn’t really want a third party to get involved, even though it probably could be helpful for some other people – I’m not knocking it, it could work. But for this, we just wanted to really be there with each other in that moment.”
The chemistry was there between both actors “right off the bat”, but Sear hopes they’ve been able to “evolve” it even further in season two.
“With season two – with the nature of it being a bit more mature – we get to explore this whole area of their relationship, which I’m glad we can. Michael and I are very, very comfortable with each other now. Like sometimes, if we feel like there’s a kiss that should just happen between the characters that’s not scripted, we’ll just do it, and I think that just really brings more of an authenticity to the relationship on screen. We’re just in the moment with these characters and whatever comes up comes up and we’ll be affectionate with each other during the scene, even if it’s not written in.”
It’s hard to imagine some of those more intimate scenes making the cut if Love, Victor had aired on Disney Plus in America, as was originally planned. Disney originally commissioned the series, but it was later moved to Hulu due to its “mature themes”. While it later aired on Disney Plus’s adult “Star” offering in other territories, there was some outcry from critics, who accused Disney of shafting the series because of its depiction of gay characters. Looking back, Sear thinks it all worked out for the best.
“It meant that season two writers could write for a different platform and we could be a bit more adult and tell more adult stories and explore more realistic elements of their relationship,” he explains.
“For us it’s been a great thing, and as an actor it’s been great to get these scripts with this quite rich material. I think for the show to move in that direction has only served it because people want to see that – so why not?”
Love, Victor tackles homophobia within Catholic, conservative families
While much of the show’s second season focuses on the thrill of young love, it also tackles some more challenging issues. Victor’s mother Isabel, a devout Catholic, struggles to accept his sexuality, making way for some very frosty, tense scenes between Sear, Cimino and Ortiz. Crafting that dynamic came naturally, Sear explains.
“I think there’s just a natural energy that crops up between actors sometimes, and you’re all there in the moment just playing with what’s in the room. Ana’s so lovely and so wonderful – she’s playing a character that’s not like her at all – but she’s an amazing actress so she pulls it off. I’m glad I got to work with her more this time around. I think those frosty scenes end up, without giving too much away, they end up culminating to this boiling point. Something happens and there’s a bit of an explosive moment. They were really interesting scenes.”
Sear is glad Love, Victor hasn’t shied away from the “religion aspect” – and he’s excited by the direction the writers ultimately went in.
“Something that surprised me was how they went about the parents’ storyline,” he says. “You maybe would expect the dad to be more resistant, especially from what they were writing in season one, but then they throw you a bit of a curveball and it’s his mum who he’s closest with that has the most difficult time. I like that they really went for it with the religion aspect and you saw Ana’s character having this struggle with what she thinks she knows.”
While Sear and Cimino are believable as a gay couple on-screen, the show has faced some flak for casting two straight actors as gay characters. Love, Victor has ended up right in the middle of an ongoing debate around whether queer roles should be reserved for queer actors. What does Sear think of that discussion?
“Well, look, I think it’s part of the conversation, isn’t it, and it’s a very nuanced conversation. I never want to be disrespectful and just discard someone’s perspective on that either. I don’t want to do that. I feel really lucky to be playing this character, I’m really proud to be part of this show. I think the show has a great message for LGBTQ+ youth about celebrating who you are, embracing your truth. I’m really proud to be a part of it and I’ve always tried to approach this character as, I’m playing a human that’s really attracted to another human and I’m just trying to cultivate those feelings with Michael on set. I’m just trying to honour the characters and the writing as best as possible.”
Sear hopes that people watching at home will see Love, Victor as “a message about embracing who you are” – and he hopes it helps to inspire LGBT+ young people.
“It’s really about living your truth and the joys of being who you are and finding your chosen family, and how important it is to be unapologetically you,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of messages from fans of the show and that seems to be one of the things people are taking away from it.”
Love Victor season two, is streaming on Star on Disney Plus in the UK from Friday (18 June).