"The Sex Lives of College Girls" Review by Kendall Ricks
The Sex Lives of College Girls Review: How the Sex Lives of College Girls Does Diversity Right.
From the mind of Mindy Kaling, The Sex Lives of College Girls is a refreshing take on the young adult life of generation z. The series follows four young women navigating life at a prestigious New England University, and boasts a diverse cast of characters, while not taking itself too seriously. The show provided several deep belly laughs and jaw-dropping moments, keeping me interested from beginning to end.
College roommates Leighton, Bela, Kimberly, and Whitney come from different backgrounds and arrive at university as strangers. Kimberly, played by Paulene Chalamet, comes from a middle-class family in the predominantly white suburbs of Arizona. She goes through a culture shock at the diverse, affluent schools, asking her black coworker if he listens to Jay-Z in a cringe-inducing yet laughable scene. Kimberly is the cringey yet loveable character who seems to hold the friend group together. The show addresses social class as Kimberly struggles to relate to her classmates and even her roommates – two of whom come from affluence.
Whitney is the daughter of a senator and works to find her identity after a scandalous affair with her soccer coach. As one of the main black characters, race is addressed in her character arc, but it isn’t her whole character. Despite being a black woman at a predominantly white institution, she is still afforded the luxury of affluence and never has to worry about paying tuition like her roommate Kimberly. In doing this, the writers display the intersectionality of race and class, while highlighting the complexities of privilege.
Leighton, the preppy blonde who comes from wealth, is a closeted lesbian. She fails to maintain romantic connections as she hides her secret from the people who are closest to her. Despite the idea that everyone is out and proud in gen-z, this character is a reminder that society isn’t as progressive as we’d like to think. Although she keeps her sexuality a secret because of her own hate for “woke culture” and “identity politics,” her rejection of these ideas is a result of her conservative upbringing. And while no one explicitly told her that being gay was wrong, they didn’t have to because there was no space for someone like her in the world she grew up in.
Bela, played brilliantly by Amrit Kaur, is the light of the group. As an Indian-American woman, she tries to please her parents by pretending to major in neuroscience, but in reality, she wants to be a comedy writer– sound familiar? Her overzealous obsession with sex lands her in some trouble. Unlike the modest bookworm portrayal we usually see of Asian women, Bela is sex-positive and had frequent casual sex. She’s ambitious and is determined to make a career in comedy. She quickly climbs the ladder of the exclusive comedy writing group on campus, the Catullan, but questions her place after being sexually assaulted by a senior member of the organization. She leans on her roommates and friends to hold her abuser accountable.
The way this show subverts the typical tropes and storylines we usually see is what makes it so captivating. It keeps you on your toes and disrupts the stereotypes that have been ingrained in the psyche of any avid or recreational TV watcher. It tackles issues like racism, misogyny in sports, party and hookup culture, and much more. But unlike other shows that attempt to talk about controversial current issues, it knows how to joke about them and have fun without being offensive or trying too hard to be “woke.” It has a diverse cast of leading and supporting characters. They’re not just diverse in race, but in size, shape, ability, and socioeconomic status. Anyone can watch this show and feel represented by characters who don’t just look like them but are multifaceted like them as well.
Written by: Kendall Ricks