Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t watched “Brave,” the series finale of “Love, Victor,” now streaming on Hulu and Disney+.
Hulu’s “Love, Victor” came full circle in its series finale, ending where it began — atop Creekwood High’s Winter Carnival Ferris wheel.
In the closing moments of the third season, Victor (Michael Cimino) returned to the spot where, exactly one year earlier in the pilot, he took a ride with former girlfriend Mia (Rachel Hilson) to conceal his sexuality. Only this time, it was his ex-boyfriend Benji (George Sear) sitting beside Victor, professing their love for one another after they spent the season apart so Benji could address his alcoholism and Victor could get to know himself.
“Victor found out who he was this season, and realized that Benji was the right person for him,” Cimino told Variety.
Elsewhere in the finale, it was happy endings all around, as Victor’s parents started their own business; Mia and Andrew (Mason Gooding) embarked on a long-distance relationship as she moves to Palo Alto; Lake (Bebe Wood) convinced Lucy (Ava Capri) to stay in Atlanta; Rahim (Anthony Keyvan) found his first boyfriend; and Felix (Anthony Turpel) was welcomed into the Salazar family photo, even though he and Pilar (Isabella Ferreira) didn’t work out.
But the other major full-circle moment happened off screen, as the final season marked the series’ first to premiere on Disney+, where it was originally developed before being handed off to Hulu because it dealt with topics like sexuality and teen alcohol use. Variety broke exclusively in late April that all three seasons of “Love, Victor” will now live on both Hulu and Disney+.
Variety caught up with executive producers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, who also wrote the 2018 film “Love, Simon,” which inspired the television continuation of the story. In an interview Berger and Aptaker, together with Cimino and Sear, talked about ending Victor’s story now, their feelings on Disney+ streaming the show and why giving LGBTQ+ audiences a happy ending was their priority for the final season.
Why did you end “Love, Victor” after three seasons, and how did you arrive at that final moment atop the Ferris wheel, Creekwood’s favorite place for big romantic gestures?
Elizabeth Berger: You know, it’s very bittersweet to be ending. We loved this show, and we love this world. At the same time, it does feel somewhat baked into the DNA of the show that this is a high-school show. We got to tell these three beautiful chapters, and it feels very complete to us. We sat down with Hulu toward the beginning of the season and the decision was reached this was the final one.
We honestly are so grateful that we knew that going into it, because it allowed us to be so intentional about using our last eight episodes to wrap everyone’s stories up exactly the way we wanted to. That was the big mission of the season, how do we give everyone the ending they deserve?
Michael Cimino: I feel like we closed the chapter at the right length, and on the right page. Sometimes, there’s a corporate part of our industry that wants to make another season and another season. But sometimes it’s better to let a good thing die, and even though we are all going to miss it, it’s better that “Love, Victor” can end as a good thing.
Victor begins and ends his story in that Winter Carnival Ferris wheel, albeit with a different seat partner. What did you think of where Victor’s journey ended?
Cimino: I feel like it was very monumental. Over the course of the third season, Victor finds who he is alone and who he is as an individual, and it gives the audience enough confidence to let him go out into the world and not have too many questions. I’m going to miss this show, and I know other people will miss this show, but I feel like we know he is going to be OK — and he’s learned the lesson he needs to learn to be his own person.
Plus, I feel like part of finding out who you are is discovering what you like and dating other people. Victor found out who he was this season, and realized that Benji was the right person for him. It wasn’t a choice made out of naiveté; it was out of experience.
George, what do you think brought Benji back to Victor in the final scene, having told him it was too late earlier in the episode?
George Sear: In this season, Benji and Victor are both in very self-exploratory stages, but for very different reasons. Benji is digging into things that he needs to heal within himself, so we got to do these incredible flashback scenes, and see Benji at a time when he’s not so comfortable with his sexuality, and with the expectations from his parents weighing on him. I think for him, this season was about going through all of that to have the space and the emotional availability for Victor in his life. It is really nice they have that full circle moment, because ultimately they love each other and it was nice to see them together at the end of it all.
Teen alcoholism isn’t often depicted on television. What was it like to bring that to Benji in these final episodes?
Sear: It wasn’t something I took lightly. It’s been touched on since Season 1, but to see it all explored in the writing this time was quite an exciting challenge as an actor. I was really trying to empathize with the position Benji was in, and why the drink was his vice. There’s a scene where he’s in AA and he really opens up, and he’s really vulnerable and some of that dialogue put it into context for me to give him the space to grow.
The previous two seasons brought in ties to the “Love, Simon” movie, with appearances from Nick Robinson, Keiynan Lonsdale, Josh Duhamel and Natasha Rothwell. But the final season didn’t have any of those connections. Why?
Issac Aptaker: That was always the plan for the show. To start with this kid who really needed to reach out to Simon for advice, but then the show would hopefully find itself and evolve and become its own thing, which is exactly what it did. We were really happy with that final scene between Michael and Nick, as Simon, at the end of Season 2, where Victor is saying, “You have helped me so much to the point where I don’t need you anymore. Now I have all these people in my daily life who know who I am, and I can turn to for advice and support. I don’t need the magical big brother figure who lives only on my phone.” So we thought that was a lovely kind of goodbye, and we didn’t want to bring Nick back just for the sake of bringing him back in and undermine that scene.
As Victor walks through the carnival, he gets to see happy endings for all the people he loves. Too often, LGBTQ+ stories end in tragedy or compromise — was it important for you to give Victor, his inner circle and the audience a happy ending?
Aptaker: Absolutely. There is not enough LBGTQ+ content out there, especially for a younger audience, so this show becomes disproportionately important. We very much want this to be the kind of teen drama that has existed for generations but not necessarily for this audience. An LGBTQ+ audience deserves their happy ending too.
Berger: We went back to the philosophy we had making “Love, Simon,” where it was so important for us to give young people — especially young queer people — the big, joyful romantic comedy experience. At the time especially, there was content out there featuring queer youth, but often it involved some kind of torturous, very sad experience, and we didn’t want the movie or the show to be that. Even though you go through a lot of intense emotions watching it, at the end of the finale, you feel good. And it makes you feel hopeful about what’s out there for you.
Sear: That is absolutely the message of the show. Reading the scripts, I was hopeful they would have that happy ending — and it was nice to share with Michael too.
Cimino: The tone of the show was never a tragedy. It was always a feel-good show that was meant to encourage people to be brave. Even though there are times when Victor faces adversity and we ask some hard-hitting questions or push some buttons, I feel like you have to get through that to get to the happy ending, and that’s the picture we tried to paint.
Elizabeth and Issac, you’ve now spent a movie and three seasons at Creekwood High School. Are you moving on from this world, or could Victor become a mentor for someone else?
Berger: I think we feel both. If this was the end, we would feel sad that it is over but feel like we did it and we are so, so happy and proud of how it all resolved.
That being said, this is a world we love, and one we have lived with for many years. Were the right thing to arise, I think we would never say never.
The show was developed for Disney+ and then it was handed to Hulu because of its seemingly mature subject matter. But it was recently announced the final season would premiere on both streamers, and all three seasons will live on both. Talking about full-circle moments, what was your reaction to the news?
Aptaker: We were hugely excited. Hulu has been the best partners for us on this, and let us make exactly the show we wanted to make. But this is so huge, because Disney+’s audience is gigantic, and this is a show we want to be in as many homes as possible so it can touch the lives of families and young adults who need it. Plus, it is going to be a big, queer love story on a Disney-branded platform, which is a huge step forward for the company.
Sear: It also just speaks to the demand and the need for these LGBTQ+ stories in the world.
Cimino: It doesn’t feel real, honestly. Even though it is the end of the series for us, it is going to find a new beginning on Disney+, and it’s going to breathe life back into the series that we didn’t even expect. It’s a beautiful thing.
The only thing you missed out on was being able to pull in a “Star Wars” character if you wanted to.
Aptaker: That was the twist of the season. It wasn’t Benji behind the door in the premiere, it was Baby Yoda.
Sear: I would watch that spin-off.
What do you hope “Love, Victor’s” legacy is for those watching it now and discovering it in the future?
Cimino: I hope we feel “Love, Victor’s” impact for a very long time, because this show has inspired so many people to come out to their families, and it has changed people’s perspectives on being part of the LBGTQ+ community. It might be 10 people down the line who have never even seen the show that will be impacted because of the first person who watched it. We will be seeing ripples of “Love, Victor” for a long time.
This interview has been edited and condensed.