NOTE: In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won’t be discussing the plot of this particular episode more deeply than rehashing the basic premise, and I’m going to be purposely vague when referring to certain characters.
If you’re a Simonverse stan, Episode 8 of Love, Victor is the one that’s going to make you repeatedly can’t even with its parade of cameos. And since I’m an Outsports contributor, I let out an audible “Holy cow” when I suddenly saw Jason Collins on my TV in the middle of the show.
(Yes, I realize that using “Holy cow” in real life makes me approximately 80 years older than the show’s target demographic. And yet, I still watched, because it was great.)
In this episode entitled “Boys’ Trip,” Victor makes a spontaneous visit to New York City while in the midst of discovering his sexuality and accepting his identity. After initially feeling overwhelmed because, “I know I came out here to experience ‘gay stuff’ but it all just feels so...gay,” Victor’s host takes him to a basketball court to “butch it up” by challenging some NYC ballers.
One mandatory hooping montage and several brotastic high fives later, Victor’s host points out one of the players and tells him, “These guys are insane. Jason was in the NBA... first openly gay player.”
At which point, the reverse shot reveals that is none other than Jason Collins. He even gets a line: “Good game... maybe next time you’ll even make a shot!” As smack talk goes, it sounds like what would happen if Michael Jordan’s verbal abuse from The Last Dance was re-written for a YA novel. But Collins delivers it fairly well!
Shocked by this revelation, Victor asks, “He’s gay?!” and is met with the big reveal: “They all are. It’s a gay league,” as two players kiss before parting ways. The dialogue continues with his host imparting the lesson:
“I just wanted you to see that there’s no one way to be gay, right? You could be femme, you could be butch, athletic, or... painfully unathletic. But the one thing you can’t be is afraid.”
The entire scene plays as if it were guest-written by everybody on the Outsports staff — in all the best ways. It’s what would happen if you could distill our site into a two minute sequence for Hulu, although we’d probably still figure out a way to work in Megan Rapinoe somewhere.
“The one thing you can’t be is afraid” is even in the same family tree as “Courage Is Contagious.”
It’s great to see a well-done series that’s all about the bravery it requires to accept who you are give a tip of the hat to Jason Collins and the trail he blazed. Just as it was great to see Love, Simon include a cameo from his fellow barrier breaker, Robbie Rogers.
Love, Victor is going to be seen by a lot of LGBTQ people in the process of their own coming out experiences. Collins’s appearance helps demonstrate the show’s message that part of coming out is embracing everything about who you are—including sports for many more of us than people think.