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Literature / Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

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It is definitely annoying that straight (and white, for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don't fit that mold. Straight people really should have to come out, and the more awkward it is, the better. Awkwardness should be a requirement.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a 2015 Young Adult novel by Becky Albertalli.

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon's junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met.


Albertalli's second novel, The Upside of Unrequited (2017), takes place in the same continuity and includes references to several characters, as does her third novel Leah on the Offbeat (2018) which returns to Shady Creek with Simon's best friend Leah as the narrator and main protagonist. A further novella, Love, Creekwood, was released in 2020; this time, the story is told through a series of emails sent between several returning characters (Simon, Bram, Leah, Abby, Garrett, Nick, and Taylor) during their Freshman year of college.

A film adaptation titled Love, Simon was released on March 16, 2018 starring Nick Robinson (Jurassic World) as Simon, Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why) as Leah, Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse) as Abby, and Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash) as Bram. In August 2019, it was announced the film would continue as a Disney+ original series Love, Victor, this time featuring a new title character (played by Michael Cimino) at its center, though Robinson will return in a limited capacity and also narrate.


Tropes Present in Simon:

  • All Gays Love Theatre: Downplayed. Simon is in the school play, but only as an extra.
  • Alliterative Name: Simon Spier.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: The Spiers, hands down, especially his father. It makes Simon uncomfortable when some of his father's jokes toe the line of Unfortunate Implications.
  • Amicable Exes: Cal and Nora are broken up by the time Love, Creekwood takes place, but are adamant that they're still friends and that the rest of the group shouldn't "make it weird". In the same novella, Nick and Abby seem to have finally reached this point after their stormy break-up in Leah on the Offbeat. Leah and Garrett count too: the novella makes no mention of their brief stint dating each other, but they're clearly OK about hanging out with the rest of the group.
  • Beta Couple: Nick and Abby to Simon and Blue in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
    • Simon and Bram are one to Leah and Abby in Leah on the Offbeat, which also adds Cal and Nora and Nick and Taylor into the mix over the course of the story.
    • Love, Creekwood gives equal prominence to Simon/Bram and Leah/Abby as the returning central couples, but sets up minor returning characters Garrett/Morgan and new characters Kellan/Grover as new beta couples.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The name of Simon's email persona, Jacques, is derived from the French saying "Jacques a dit", which is the French equivalent of the game "Simon says". It's how Blue figures out who Simon is offline.
  • Blackmail: Martin implicitly blackmails Simon with outing him unless he helps him get a date with Abby.
  • The Cameo: Molly and Cassie (the twin protagonists of Albertalli's second novel The Upside of Unrequited) are Abby's cousins and are briefly mentioned in both Leah on the Offbeat and Love, Creekwood.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: In the two instances where Simon is given alcohol, he gets drunk very easily.
  • Closet Gay: Simon. He gets Forced Out of the Closet later in the book.
  • College Is "High School, Part 2": Downplayed in Love, Creekwood. On the one hand, the characters retain their dynamics from their high school days and still seem to rely primarily on their old friendship group for company and support. However, it's Justified in that they're Freshmen students who are still adjusting to college life, and they have mostly ended up going to universities in various locations around the country, keeping in touch by email as opposed to all somehow ending up at the same college.
  • Coming-Out Story: For Simon, and eventually for Blue.
    • The sequel is this for Leah and eventually Abby.
  • Disappeared Dad: Leah's dad left her family after having an affair.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Simon, by far. He's a huge fan of Harry Potter, incredibly awkward, and manages to catch the eye of a few guys over the course of the story because of it.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Simon was too caught up in his own insecurities to put on the Elliott Smith shirt Blue got him for Christmas, so he almost missed the note taped inside that reaffirms his love for Simon.
    • In Love, Creekwood, Simon manages to miss the fact that his roommate Kellan is also openly into guys, and in a relationship with Grover, who Simon believes to be his "straight dude bro" best friend. He doesn't clue in until he sees them holding hands on Halloween, over six weeks into their not-at-all-hidden relationship and after spending most days with them in the meantime.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Simon himself is outed halfway through the novel after Martin accuses him of taking too long to set up Martin and Abby (even though Abby has no interest in Martin and never did).
  • Foreshadowing: Blue says it's annoying that straight and white are considered the default. Blue is Bram, who is black; Simon kicks himself for assuming Blue was white when he finds out.
  • Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: While Simon isn't specifically seeking a jock, he doesn't mind staring at them. And in the end it turns out the Blue is a jock, as Bram is on the soccer team.
  • If It's You, It's OK: In Leah on the Offbeat, Abby comes across this way when she describes herself as "a little bit bi" while trying to reconcile her feelings for Leah with the fact that she's usually interested in guys. Leah initially takes it amiss, feeling that Abby is both shying away from commitment and making it more difficult for women who actually describe themselves bisexual to be taken seriously. Fortunately, they work things out: Abby becomes more comfortable with her sexual identity, while Leah becomes less demanding of her to label herself.
  • Incompatible Orientation: While Simon never comes across this directly (he states he has a policy for not falling for straight guys), he and Blue do discuss the fact that being closeted in a school where there are no other openly gay guys mean hell for any attempt at dating.
    • A Downplayed example in Leah on the Offbeat reveals that Leah nurtured a crush on (a completely oblivious) Simon for a few years in their early teens, but that she'd gotten over it long before he came out as gay.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Leah is falling for Nick, who's falling for Abby, who is also falling for Nick, but is also being crushed on by Martin.
    • Leah on the Offbeat adds a couple more sides to the dodecahedron, including Leah and Abby's Unresolved Sexual Tension with each other and Taylor's crush on Nick.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Simon and Blue fall for each other online, but don't know each other in person, and Simon is stressed that Blue would no longer like him when he finds out who he really is.
  • Meaningful Name: Discussed. Simon means "the one who hears" and Spier means "the one who watches." According to Simon, this means he was basically destined to be nosy.
    • Simon uses the screen name "Jacques" to protect his anonymity, but it's also a clue to his real identity: "Jacques a Dit" being the French name for the game "Simon Says".
    • Blue's full screen name (Blue Green) also gives a big clue to his real identity: Bram Louis Greenfeld.
  • New Friend Envy: Simon notes that Leah appears to be resentful of Abby, both for being Nick's latest crush and Simon's new confidante. Becomes slightly more complicated in the sequel when it turns out that this is all quite true: Leah is especially hurt that Simon chose to come out to Abby before her, and is jealous of her relationship with Nick — but also Leah has a crush on Abby, not Nick as Simon believed.
  • Official Couple: Lots, which is understandable in a romance-oriented teen drama series:
    • Nick and Abby become an item early on in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and remain this way until they break up early on in Leah on the Offbeat.
    • Simon and Bram are an acknowledged couple throughout Leah on the Offbeat.
    • Leah and Abby are revealed to have made it to this status in the epilogue of the second book.
    • Leah on the Offbeat also adds secondary couples in the form of Cal and Nora midway through and Nick and Taylor in the epilogue. Downplayed since, by the time Love, Creekwood takes place, the former couple have broken up, and the latter's romantic status together is never referenced again one way or the other.
  • Out of Focus: Nick is initially introduced as the third friend in Simon and Leah's tight-knit group, which has recently been disrupted by the addition of Abby. However, he actually has much less prominence in the series than either Leah or Abby, becoming a bit of a Satellite Love Interest for Abby by the end of book one and ending up especially sidelined after they break up in book two.
  • Red Herring: One of Blue's hints about his real identity is that he shares his first name with a US president. Simon initially thinks that it's Cal (as in Coolidge) or possibly Martin (as in Van Buren). In reality it's Bram, which is a shortened version of Abraham.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Like all good will-they-won't-they romance stories, each book in the series ends with one for their title character:
    • Simon and Bram at the end of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
    • Leah and Abby at the end of Leah on the Offbeat.
  • The Reveal: When Simon finds who Blue is: Bram Greenfeld.
  • Romantic False Lead: Simon spends a good chunk of the book thinking stage manager Cal is Blue, but never makes a move because he isn't 100% sure and doesn't want to out himself.
    • Abby and Nick are this for each other. Downplayed in Nick's case since his later relationship with Taylor isn't portrayed as exactly "right" for him either, but very much Played Straight for Abby, who eventually gets elevated to Official Couple status with Leah.
    • Leah and Garrett are sort-of-dating for parts of Leah on the Offbeat, until Leah hooks up with Abby.
  • Settle for Sibling: Cal reveals himself as bisexual and asks out Simon towards the end of the first book. In Leah on the Offbeat, he starts dating Simon's sister Nora. Downplayed in that, while he definitely liked Simon, he wasn't super hung up on him and genuinely grew close to Nora in her own right.
  • Shrinking Violet: "Awkward Silence Bram," who Simon has never even heard speak unless he was forced to. We find out later that the reason Bram is so quiet around Simon is because he has a crush on him.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Abby, Leah, and Nick's anger at Simon for meddling in their affairs is completely understandable, the fact they abandoned him after he was forcibly outed seemed unnecessarily cruel. Abby and Nick were straight (so probably couldn't comprehend being blackmailed with something like that), and Leah herself was closeted (and must have understood the decision of coming out on your own terms). It was something that could ruin his entire life and did lead to him getting actively harassed at school, and nearly losing someone he deeply loved because they were afraid to be associated with him. Even though Simon did do them wrong interfering, you can be angry at your friends without throwing them to the wolves. Sometimes standing by someone now and getting an apology later is more important than being right, especially after learning he was being blackmailed into doing it and experiencing just what it's like to have someone manipulate you for their own gain.
  • Trademark Favourite Food: Simon and Oreos.
  • Triang Relations: Leah, Nick, and Abby are involved in a variation on Type Thirteen throughout the first two books, with Leah historically crushing on Nick (who is one of her oldest and best friends), while Nick begins a relationship with Abby, a more recent addition to the friend group. The second book reveals that Leah and Abby are both bisexual and interested in each other as well as Nick... and in fact, Simon might have misread Leah's interest in Nick in the first book, since according to her own account she was well over Nick and pining for Abby by that point.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The first book implies that Simon, Nick, and Leah had this dynamic for a long time. Subverted as it's already been disrupted by the arrival of Abby by the time the story actually starts.


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