Now called “Love, Victor,” the series was originally developed for Disney Plus. “Love, Victor” follows a high school student named Victor (played by Michael Cimino) on a “journey of self-discovery, facing challenges at home, adjusting to a new city, and struggling with his sexual orientation,” according to press notes.
Calling the series “funny, heartfelt and deeply affecting,” Craig Erwich, senior vice president of originals at Hulu, said in a statement that the show’s “contemporary lens and honest storytelling make it a perfect fit” for that streaming platform.
News of the show’s move, however, got a frosty response on social media. When “Love, Simon” premiered in 2018, the film broke fresh ground as Hollywood’s first mainstream coming-of-age comedy to center on a gay teen.
Starring Nick Robinson, “Love, Simon” earned mixed reviews but was nonetheless seen as a cinematic milestone. A number of LGBTQ celebrities, including Matt Bomer and Neil Patrick Harris, bought out screenings in their respective hometowns so that young viewers could see the film.
While “Love, Simon” was relatively chaste, it sounds as though “Love, Victor” may have taken a slightly different approach to the material. According to multiple reports, Disney Plus executives felt that the show covered subject matter ― including alcohol use, sexual exploration and marital discord among adult characters ― that wasn’t in line with the family-focused vibe of the streaming service.
Among fans of the original film, however, the move to Hulu raised a few eyebrows. Though Hulu is also a Disney-owned service, many speculated that Disney Plus had jettisoned the show from its lineup for being “too gay.”
“I fear that I know *exactly* why Disney Plus didn’t want a ‘Love, Simon’ show, as opposed to sending it to Hulu,” one Twitter user wrote. “Not a great or encouraging message, though.”
“At this point I’ve lost count of how many times Disney’s insinuated that queer teens aren’t ‘family appropriate,’” another added.
Author Becky Albertalli ― whose 2015 young adult novel, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” was the basis for the original “Love, Simon” film ― responded to the online blowback by urging fans to “give Disney the benefit of a doubt.”
“Disney knew what it was when they got it,” she wrote on Twitter late Monday, suggesting that the “mature themes” that prompted the show’s move didn’t include the protagonist’s sexuality.
In a Monday press release announcing the move, Disney Plus Content and Marketing President Ricky Strauss said the streaming platform was “incredibly proud” of “Love, Victor” and stressed that the show “will be a perfect addition to Hulu’s strong slate of young adult programming.”
A Disney Plus spokesperson declined to provide additional comment.
The “Love, Victor” shake-up comes at a time when Disney has been making visible strides to diversify its programming across its film and television properties.
When Disney Plus launched last fall, the lineup included “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” a series reimagining of the “High School Musical” trilogy featuring the franchise’s first openly gay principal character. Two years earlier, one of the characters on the Disney Channel series “Andi Mack” was revealed to be gay during the show’s second season.
“The Thing About Harry,” a Valentine’s Day-themed comedy about a young same-sex couple, aired on the Disney-owned cable outlet Freeform this month. Last week, the company announced that a lesbian character, Officer Specter, would appear in Pixar Animation Studios’ “Onward” and would be voiced by Lena Waithe.
Not all of those efforts, however, have been universally embraced. In 2017, director Bill Condon made global headlines for pointing to an “exclusively gay” moment in the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast.” Some, however, felt the moment was “much ado about nothing.”