“The Sex Lives of College Girls” has all of my friends and I in what you might call…a chokehold. It is a dramedy HBO Max series that came out in 2021 and just released its second season this November. I am currently in my third rewatch of this series, and the amount of times I have watched the pilot with friends that I want to get hooked on the show too is quickly tallying up.
The show focuses on four roommates—Kimberly, Whitney, Bela and Leighton—all of whom have quite different personalities. From a college athlete to a wealthy legacy to an aspiring comedian with not-so-approving Indian parents, “Sex Lives” covers so many bases of the female-college experience without seeming too kumbaya or overdone.
In a conversation a couple of days ago, my friends and I mulled over the ease and speed with which this show made us entirely captivated. On the surface level, it seems like just another teen-drama that you watch for the first season or two and then dump it for the next best show, but not this one. So we talked it over and figured out all the little reasons we can’t take our eyes off of “Sex Lives.”
Here is everything “The Sex Lives of College Girls” gets right about women in college:
1) The show feels very current. With up-to-date slang and references to actually relevant pop culture, “Sex Lives” captures what life feels like currently as a college student in a way that most wannabe college-based TV shows fall short on. The characters reference COVID-19 in an “Oh, he gave my brother COVID last year” kind of way that is nonchalant and refreshingly real.
2) While the characters on the show can seem ridiculous and crazy, being a young woman in college is often just that. The great, sometimes self-deprecating lengths Bela takes to get ahead in her male-dominated comedy field depict a common experience for women studying subjects from mass entertainment to STEM. Kimberly loses valuable sleep and study time because of a boy she is seeing… sound familiar? Whitney’s boyfriend dumps her without any precursing conversation, and she avoids all the places on campus she knows that he frequents to bypass ex-embarrassment—been there!
3) No romantic interest in the show ever sticks around too long. Kimberly loses her high-school boyfriend within the first episode. Whitney’s affair with her soccer coach (I know!) is done with after about only an episode or two. Leighton goes through a breakup and then gets right back on the dating-app market. The girls’ various one-night stands are given the appropriate amount of thought that the girls’ gave them in the moment: little to none. The way the show does not linger on love interests is refreshing. Especially during freshman year in college, relationships, hookups and significant others come and go like the tide.
4) Some of the sub-plots are so accurate that it feels like a reality show. Arguing about whether or not to bring a parka when going out made my friends and I laugh out loud. The girls get black-listed from a frat and need to find a new social scene, so they scope out prospective party spots that they can become regulars at in a way that deeply hits home. Many hot takes are blurted and straight-up reality checks are given on the girls’ dorm couch after crazy nights out, a couch that we’ve all been on with our girlfriends at some point. There is a stinky mini-fridge no one wants to clean out, there is a women’s center that hosts poetry nights and there is the dining hall where lots of gossip is spilled. It’s real-life college!
The episodes are only about 30 minutes long, and the second season episodes are coming out weekly. But within those 30 minutes, so many sub-plot stories are told and so many memories are made. Time in “Sex Lives” flies faster than a stray ping pong ball at a beer pong table. Cringey hookups happen, sucky lab partners are dealt with,and girl gangs become stronger through every mess-up and every success. The girls’ stories in “The Sex Lives of College Girls” humble viewers with the embarrassing reality of college life but somehow also reaffirm the slew of emotions and experiences that the beginning of college entails in a way that just pulls you into a new TV show obsession.