There’s a moment in Love, Simon – the film adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – where the titular Simon Spier admits to himself, “I’m done living in a world where I don’t get to be who I am. … I deserve a great love story, and I want someone to share it with.” Some may roll their eyes at the “everyone deserves a love story” rallying cry that’s been at the forefront of the film’s marketing campaign, but it should not be dismissed.
Greg Berlanti, the name behind the Arrow-verse on The CW, has made the superhero landscape more diverse, and he’s doing the same thing for mainstream rom-coms. We’ve seen the age of John Hughes films (Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and all the titles they influenced (Mean Girls, Easy A, even Spider-Man: Homecoming). But Love, Simon is a bit different.
The past few years have seen a spike in LGBTQ genre titles like Moonlight, Carol, and Call Me By Your Name, but here’s a story that’s not marketed as Oscar bait from a specialty division of a movie studio. It’s a mainstream title by a prominent distributor (20th Century Fox) that just so happens to focus on a closeted gay teenager. It’s not resigned to a limited release at your not-so local arthouse theater. It’s what my teenage-self surviving high school in a small, rural community with limited access to LGBTQ films and books could’ve used – which is why the impact of Love, Simon outweighs most grievances audiences might have.
Nick Robinson has never quite stood out to me as the leading man Hollywood seems to think he is, even after 2013’s The Kings of Summer. But here, as 17-year-old Simon, he catches your attention.
Simon is blessed with a support system in the form of a mom and dad (Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel) obsessed with their Bachelor family viewing parties, and he has a tight-knit friend group obsessed with iced coffee. He’s a dedicated brother who happily bears with his sister’s experimental cooking skills, he’s a dedicated friend who ferries his pals to school every morning, and he’s the kind of son who may get drunk at a party but he doesn’t drive drunk and always arrives home before curfew. For the past few years, though, something’s been off.
He’s gay and nobody knows, except for his anonymous online pen pal, a fellow classmate that goes by the name Blue with whom he flirts and commiserates about life. But Simon may no longer be able to hide under the cover of a ghost user name when a classmate approaches him. Martin (Logan Miller) wants Simon’s help landing a date with his friend, Abby (played by the ray of sunshine that is Alexandra Shipp), or else he just might release Simon’s emails with Blue to the school’s gossipy Tumblr site and out him to the world.