Why we should normalise 'The Sex Lives of College Girls'!

'The Sex Lives of College Girls': the most authentic depiction of female students yet?

Ella Townson
13th February 2023
Image: @IMDB
Mindy Kaling’s 2021, game-changing comedy The Sex Lives of College Girls revolves around the sexual endeavours of four dissimilar roommates at the fictional college of Essex. The series' fresh, female-focused perspective is bound to change the trajectory of sex-positive shows forever.

The Sex Lives of College Girls is a show that I thankfully came across in my first year at Newcastle. Any university student knows that first year can be overwhelming, especially when you factor in the likes of Hinge, Tinder, and hook-up culture… yet you will survive it and this series will surely help. Watching the central characters (Bela, Kimberly, Leighton, and Whitney) experience the craziness of freshers, studies and friendships that I had gone through only a few months prior, provided the sense of catharsis that all students could use. I’m certain many new watchers will also relate to the girls’ eagerness at having a whole new pool of people to sleep with, but what makes this show so captivating, is how it explores the diversity of sex through the perspective of four women. Each of the characters comes from a different background and they all have contrasting experiences, yet their budding friendship helps them to navigate sex in a new and intimidating place.

There's currently nothing quite like it

Bela is perhaps the most sexual of all the characters. She is an eighteen-year-old, Indian American woman that is unafraid to go after what she wants. Her desire to take part in casual sex is immediately presented as being normal, healthy and a natural part of a young woman finding herself. It was refreshing to see her declare her wish to have casual sex loudly and proudly, with one of her earliest lines being “I am ready to smash some D’s”. Bela’s energy reminded me of the well-known Amy from Sex Education: funny, down to earth, and likeable. However, like Amy, Bela is sexually harassed, and this affects how she perceives intimacy. In the middle of season one, a male character, who holds a position of authority as an editor of the male-centric newspaper on campus, makes unwanted advances toward Bela. In including this in her show, Kaling sheds light on important topics like consent and the abuse of power. She doesn’t pretend that interactions of a sexual nature are always positive, although, she has Bela challenge his behaviour and ultimately Bela heals by upstarting a female-only paper. In season two, Bela continues to be as passionate about sex as she always was, but when it is on her terms. She makes a few mistakes, such as cheating on her boyfriend Eric, but the essence of her character remains. Of course, Bela’s journey is not entirely reflective of all survivors of sexual harassment/assault, however by not shying away from the truth of what can happen to a lot of young women, the show ultimately becomes more authentic. 

Image: @IMDB

Not all of the characters, however, were as secure in their sexuality to begin with. Kimberly is for the awkward girls, not yet comfortable in their own skin. She is a working-class character and struggles with adjusting to college life because of this, but as the show goes on, we see her become more confident. Kimberly moves on from her hometown boyfriend, who took her virginity and then subsequently broke up with her, choosing to embrace the single life. Throughout the two seasons, she owns her sexuality and we see her have a couple of ‘flings’. Then at the end of season two, we see her kiss Canaan, aka., Whitney’s ex and we are forced to confront the imperfect nature of relationships. Once again, the show is realistic because none of the characters are without their flaws. It will be interesting to see how this betrayal is handled in season three.

Their budding friendship helps them to navigate sex in a new and intimidating place

Whitney and Leighton's development throughout the two seasons is also important. Whitney abandons her toxic relationship with her coach, sending the message that girls shouldn’t continue in situations that don’t empower them. She then begins an equal relationship with Canaan, although this turns sour. The audience also gets to see some LGBTQ+ representation through Leighton’s character. Toward the end of season one, Leighton comes out as a lesbian to Kimberly. This scene was an incredibly emotional one, in which Leighton confesses her fears of not being accepted, as well as her concern that her sexuality would consume the other aspects of her identity. It is then a pleasure to see Leighton enjoy her sex life in season two. She even contracts chlamydia at one point, much to her surprise, which is another example of the show reflecting the realities of sex.

Ultimately, The Sex Lives of College Girls is a series that perfectly balances humour and girl power with the sometimes-harsh realities of sexual relationships. There's currently nothing quite like it.

(Visited 1,181 times, 17 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ReLated Articles
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap