'We got our big gay wish-fulfillment episode.'
Simon Spier's presence is felt from the very first episode of Love, Victor, with Nick Robinson reprising his Love, Simon role via voiceover to narrate his and Victor's DMs back and forth. It takes another eight episodes before Victor meets Simon, and we finally get to see him in the flesh again.
"Nick Robinson was very excited to be part of this," says executive producer Elizabeth Berger, who wrote both the movie and series with Isaac Aptaker. "The three of us were very much in agreement that this should be Victor's story, so for the most part, the voiceover was the perfect level of Simon. You wanted to get a taste and you wanted him to feel built into the fabric of the series, but we all felt this should be Victor's show."
"That being said," she continues, "it felt like it would be disappointing to us, both as the creators and to fans, to not see him at some point." So the writers set out to find the perfect place for Simon to turn up in Victor's life. The answer, as it turns out, was exactly when Victor needed him most.
In episode 8, "Boys' Trip," Victor (Michael Cimino) wants to experience a world beyond high school and his family -- "a world where there are people like me," where he would feel like he finally belongs -- so he springs it on Simon that he's coming to New York... only to learn that Simon is out of town for the weekend. Instead, Simon's high school sweetheart, Bram (Keiynan Lonsdale), offers to show Victor around.
And Bram does show Victor the many different ways one can be gay, introducing him to the couple's Pride parade of roommates ("the entire umbrella of LGBTQIA and non-binary"), plus out former pro-basketball player Jason Collins and drag queen Katya Zamolodchikova.
"We got our big gay wish-fulfillment episode where he learned to stop being afraid of who he was and not only be OK with it but embrace it and feel proud of it," EP Brian Tanen, who scripted the episode, explains. "And you get to see Bram from the film, and you think that's going to be the big Easter egg of the episode."
With only minutes left in the episode, you accept that maybe Simon really won't be showing up. Which is when Victor flees a gay bar -- upset to learn that Simon had been sharing their messages with Bram and the roommates -- and runs into a familiar face.
It's Simon who now gets the chance to make the big, heartening speech, to let Victor know, "You're not a stranger, you're one of us. To me, that's the best part about all of this, having a community… On some level, we've all been through the same thing, because we're family."
"It was so exciting to shoot. Nick was doing To Kill a Mockingbird in New York when we were filming, so we actually got to bring Michael and shoot it out on the streets in the city," Aptaker shares. "Michael was just so, so excited to meet Nick. He felt like he was taking a passing of the torch, and he was just buzzing the whole day. Then Nick got to set, and it was really cool for them to finally get to meet face to face."
It was Cimino and Robinson's first time connecting about their respective journeys in the franchise, and it happened to be the last day of filming on Love, Victor. "When I finally met Nick," Cimino recalls, "he was just so unbelievably nice to me."
The scene culminates in the literal passing of the jacket, as Simon bequeaths his now-iconic jean jacket from the movie to Victor. "They were like, 'Yeah, this is the actual jacket from the movie,'" Cimino says. "I was just totally, like, geeking out." (Pay attention to when Victor next puts on the jacket in episode 9.)
Now that the two have cemented their bond in person, Aptaker and Berger say Simon will remain a part of Victor's life. "He's definitely going to be a part of the second season," Aptaker says. "How we're using him is going to change a little bit from the first season... We are always looking for ways to have the two worlds touch on each other."
Additional Reporting by Leanne Aguilera
Love, Victor is now streaming on Hulu.