Arts, Television

‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ Returns With Closer Insight Into Each Character’s Story


The second season of The Sex Lives of College Girls, co-created by Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble, returned on Nov. 17, just in time to binge watch as the fall semester comes to an end. HBO released the first two episodes of the new season, in which the show’s protagonists—four freshman roommates at Essex College—reunited to embark on new adventures. 

The rest of the season will be released intermittently until its finale on Dec. 15. 

Kimberly (Pauline Chalamet), Bela (Amrit Kaur), Leighton (Reneé Rapp), and Whitney (Alyah Chanelle Scott) return from Thanksgiving break to finish their conflict-filled, sexually active, and scandalous freshman year. 

The new season is no different from the first in terms of quality—it is still quick-witted and strangely uplifting—but the second season presents the implications of the characters’ lack of social life outside of their room. After being banned from all frat parties on campus, the girls try to compensate for their lifeless weekends by unsuccessfully throwing parties themselves.

But most importantly, the new season offers a narrower focus on each character’s personal life and individual story. 

Despite being a comedy, the second season manages to tackle important and relevant issues real-life college students face. Each character has their own relatable inner struggle. 

After losing her scholarship in the first season for cheating—the same reason the girls get banned from frat parties—Kimberly struggles to afford tuition while juggling her social and academic life. Her economic situation makes her an outcast at Essex, representing the alienation and hardships that students with financial challenges face at elite, private universities. 

After departing from her sexist comedy group, Bela has difficulties starting her own all-female group. Despite her confident, independent, and driven nature, her difficulty getting the group up and running poses questions about whether these qualities are enough for women to succeed in male-dominated spaces.

After Leighton comes out, she makes up for her time in the closet by exploring her sexuality with multiple partners at once. But when her partners find out Leighton has been playing with them, she faces the consequences of hookup culture. 

While everyone else around her is busy with extracurriculars, star athlete Whitney finds that playing soccer has become her entire identity. When the soccer season ends, she goes through an identity crisis, fueled by insecurity and comparison with others. 

The show weaves together the challenges each character faces in their own individual narrative through showing how all roommates show up for each other episode after episode. The Sex Lives of College Girls stands out not only for its funny screenplay but through its dynamic character relationships—the friend group consistently supports and uplifts each other instead of fighting and tearing each other down, a common trope among female friend groups in television and cinema. 

This season succeeds by portraying real-life struggles—financial instability among college students, a lack of self-esteem among young women, the consequences of hookup culture, and pressure to feel successful—all while being funny and entertaining. 

No matter how different their inner struggles and personalities may be, Kimberly, Bela, Leighton, and Whitney are a group that sticks together and refuses to be torn apart. Their friendship is what makes The Sex Lives of College Girls the perfect feel-good show. 

December 12, 2022