When I’m swamped with assignments, work, and extracurriculars, I miss out on the small joy of putting my feet up and enjoying a TV series. However, The Sex Lives of College Girls has claimed its spot as my new lighthearted comfort show that I can always make time for. It is created by the talented Mindy Kaling (it’s hard not to love something that involves Mindy Kaling) and stars Renee Rap, Pauline Chalamet, Amrit Kaur, and Alyah Chanelle Scott. The show follows the lives of four roommates—Leighton, Bella, Kimberly, and Whitney—as they navigate the trials and tribulations of relationships, parties, parents, and academics at Essex University in Vermont. The premise of the show is not unheard of, but despite this, the show manages to stand out with its clever and hilarious writing, eccentric characters, and diversity of subject matter explored. The Sex Lives of College Girls has Kaling’s classic wit and relatability written all over it. It does not fade into the background as “just another teen drama series” and here are some reasons why.
The main cast of girls is truly what makes the show so engaging and fun to watch. In the first season, each roommate has an arc that is given enough time to be explored, so the viewer can truly get to know each character and understand what they are going through. Furthermore, the struggles that each girl goes through are deeply relatable for university students. For example, a cornerstone of Kimberly’s arc is her ongoing struggle with finances in a school where many of her peers come from high-income backgrounds and don’t need to work or rely on scholarships to fund their education. Kimberly’s strife with finances is thoughtfully portrayed in that she tries to keep quiet about what she is going through around her roommates so as to not dampen her image. It was refreshing to see a story like Kimberley’s because she is living the reality that many university students face—and many students can feel like they are going through it all alone. Other topics explored include navigating queer identity, living up to parent’s expectations, hook-up culture, and encountering inequity within university clubs.
Even though the characters met on move-in day, they quickly grew close and developed sibling-like relationships by season two. The characters’ bond has reminded me of the close-knit relationship that I share with my housemates. The roommates have no filter around each other and always show up for each other at the end of the day despite the different lives that they lead on campus. In a way, the show speaks to the importance of female friendship: romantic relationships come and go throughout the show, but the roommate support system is what truly keeps the girls afloat.
Portrayal of Gen Z
Oftentimes, lighthearted teen comedy-drama series are grilled for featuring too many trendy buzzwords to capture the attention of their target Gen Z audience. The Sex Lives of College Girls is set right after the COVID-19 pandemic and references recent trends and slang; however, the script does not overuse references or include them for the sake of appearing relevant. The references to TikTok and the use of Twitter slang doesn’t obscure the relatability and humanity of the characters.
Sure, The Sex Lives of College Girls may not fulfill your need for escapism into a fantasy world with adventure and mystical elements. If anything, the show’s events may remind you of your own academic and social responsibilities. Nonetheless, there is a certain comfort in seeing people lead similar lives to you and grapple with similar challenges. The Sex Lives of College Girls reminds us that we aren’t alone and that somehow, you will always find a way to navigate the many dilemmas that fall under the university experience.