As a Latinx television viewer, I've long struggled with not just the underrepresentation of my community on screen but also the unimaginative and often offensive ways we're portrayed, erasing the many shades and identities within our culture. When we're not depicted as drug-running criminals, we're vehicles for trauma or inspo porn, though most often a mix of both. You know, the story of the immigrant who overcomes poverty to become a math scholar, or poor second gen kid who has to work three jobs because their undocumented father was deported, but all they dream about is being able to DANCE! It's fine, but it gets pretty old and annoying when no one seems to be able to master the art of Spanglish or can make any Latinx-centered piece of media without mentioning Selena.
Now that I've aired out my grievances, let's talk about the genuinely delightful Latinx-centered series that is Love, Victor. The Hulu series is told within the universe of Love, Simon, the 2018 film starring Nick Robinson as Simon Spier, a kindhearted white teen coming to terms with his sexual identity and coming out at his Atlanta high school. On the Hulu series, which is set after Simon has left the school, Victor Salazar (Michael Cimino, who is half Puerto Rican) enters Creekwood High after moving with his family from Texas. After hearing the story of Simon landing his first kiss on a ferris wheel with a popular jock, cementing his status as a legend, he initiates a DM correspondence with Simon, who now lives in New York City, initially confronting him for having it way easier than he would on the journey to self-acceptance.
Unlike Simon, who has nice white liberal parents, Victor is a Latino kid from Texas. Latinx culture is deeply rooted in machismo, Catholicism, and homophobia, and anyone from Tejas can tell you that red state culture often exacerbates this. Being gay within the Latinx community and within even a moderately conservative family comes with far greater consequences. Victor tries to fight his growing feelings for his hot coworker Benji (George Sear) by dating beautiful, smart popular girl Mia (Rachel Hilson), but finds that the heart wants what it wants. It's after a meet-up with his Simon as well as Simon's boyfriend Bram, and their roommates in the Big City that Victor finds the courage to go after the boy he likes and come out to his friends and family.
Because it tackles the complex struggles of being queer in a Latino household, the series could have easily veered into inspirational trauma porn territory or problematic stereotypes. However, its tone is refreshingly honest and sweet throughout, allowing the viewer to feel the butterflies of Victor's first crush as well as his fears of disappointing his family. You can feel the weight of expectation every time his dad adoringly calls him "macho" or mentions cute girls. Dads really are so lacking in self-awareness sometimes. Even so, you feel excited for Victor as he embraces his truest self.
The show even makes it a whole seven episodes before dropping a Selena reference, which shows major restraint for a Latinx-centered series. While I had to laugh at the cliché when I heard "Dreaming of You" on yet another Latinx-series, as though we have no other musical icons in Latinx culture, Love, Simon is still the kind of feel-good story we all desperately need, especially if you're a queer Latinx kid out there watching. And with such a severe lack of representation of Latinx stories in Hollywood, Love, Victor is doubly important in helping push conversations of tolerance and love in Latinx households.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.