‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ review: Mindy Kaling’s comedy is about sex, in every way of the word 

A still from ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’

A still from ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’

Reinventing yourself is something that everyone wants (or hopes) to do, when they leave the safety net of high school and step into college as newborn adults with big dreams, a chaotic concoction of raging hormones and sweet, sweet freedom. That’s what Mindy Kaling’s latest triumph, The Sex Lives of College Girls, encapsulates. For all the coming-of-age comedies and dramas that have made up the foundation of modern-day popular culture — from Gossip Girl or even Euphoria Sex Lives... brings a realistic spin to the classic tale. 

Forced together by the randomly assigned college housing portal, four young women band together to try to make sense of sex, sexuality, and sexism in a world filled with stereotypes, labels, and unspoken power structures. The process leads to the creation of a beautiful bond between unlikely friends. Take Leighton (Renée Rapp), for example. On the surface, she is the typical queen bee, a rich, white girl from New York City (which she mentions more times that I can count), who wears Gucci and Saint Laurent. By using a mature I-have-my-life-together demeanour , she tries to mask her ongoing battle with her sexuality, which she believes people will see as more important than her other personality traits. 

Bela (Amrit Kaur), obviously modelled on Kaling, is an Indian-American trying to break into the world of comedy while her earnest parents believe that she is studying neuroscience. Bela is raunchy, unashamed, and eager to have sex with the plethora of six-packed frat boys that make up Essex College, a fictional university based in Vermont. But her eagerness to hook up does not interfere with her laser-sharp focus on getting into Essex’s Catullan comedy club. Her go-getter attitude, while occasionally reeking of freshman desperation, is exactly the kind of networking experience you’d pick up in college. Bela quickly realises, however, that navigating the toxic environment that the Catullan’s two male editors have created, and the dangers of the workplace power structure, will force her to confront sexism and assault, and decide whether it’s worth enduring. 

The Sex Lives of College Girls
Creators: Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble
Cast: Pauline Chalamet, Amrit Kaur, Renee Rapp, Alyah Chanelle Scott and Gavin Leatherwood
No. of episodes: 10
Storyline: Follows the lives, loves and laughs of four college roommates as they arrive at New England’s prestigious Essex College

Meanwhile, her roommate Whitney (Alyah Chanelle Scott), a soccer player, is also caught in an unbalanced relationship with the team’s coach. Sneaking around her teammates and his wife ( sigh) while trying to avoid causing a national scandal that could jeopardise her Senator mother’s career, leaves Whitney feeling alone. In a predominantly white institution, Whitney first fails to fit in with her teammates, and her affair forces her to be more closed off with her roommates. 

Finally, Kimberely (Pauline Chalamet), a girl from a small town in Arizona who has to work a federal work study job to support herself, finds herself suddenly leaping away from what she’s familiar with; her high school boyfriend, her quaint mustard yellow dress, and her kitschy flirting style, into a world where the hottest guy at Essex, Nico (Gavin Leatherwood) — also Leighton’s brother — is into her. Overcome with the attention and lust, Kimberly finds herself unravelling as she falls deeper into Nico’s bed, only to clumsily fall out of it once her grades really take a turn for the worst. 

Still, the teenagers manage to emanate a kind of girl power energy that we all need, to navigate the pressures of being a sexually-liberated woman in a world where heteronormativity and toxic masculinity still runs rampant. Convening regularly in their dorm’s common room or the dining hall, the girls discuss what they’re going to wear to parties, whether the guy they just hooked up with actually thinks they are hot, and slowly, deeper issues like whether Kimberly should out Nico’s fraternity’s cheating ring, or whether Bela should report her editor to the Title IX office (sexual assault and harassment office). 

Kaling and and co-creator Justin Noble manage to skilfully lace together the explicit dreams and hidden desires of barely adult 18-year olds, using unabashed comedy and tastefully-explicit dorm room nudity, without losing sight of the issues that remain a part of everyday life for young women. Sex Lives... is a roller-coaster of nostalgia for freshman chaos, concern for the issues they face, and wonder, over just how chaotic these girls will get in the quest to become who they really are. 

The Sex Lives of College Girls is currently streaming on Amazon Prime

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2022 2:14:13 pm |