For many people, the friends we make during our college years become the friends that remain with us for the rest of our lives.
College is a unique environment. No longer are young people forced to stay in the same place to learn by government mandate, forced to share a life with whomever they happen to live in the same region as. Now, they can interact with diverse people who share the same interests.
Mindy Kaling's HBO Max comedy series The Sex Lives of College Girls shows this truth, all while flipping the scripts on the college experiences of young men and empowering the female experience.
The Sex Lives of College Girls centers on Leighton Murray, Kimberly Finkle, Bela Malhotra, and Whitney Chase, who all meet for the first time as dorm roommates. Each represents a different facet of society with their background: rich, poor, pressured, and powerful.
However, the foursome doesn't fall into the tired cliché where friction of differences comes between them—instead, the girls form a tight bond that grows ever stronger without the usual inner-group conflict dynamic.
That's just a foretaste of what makes the show so good. Here are the core reasons why The Sex Lives of College Girls is a solid watch, and why you should start if you haven't already.
1. The Great Unknown Cast
With The Sex Lives of College Girls being on HBO, you might think there would have been a studio note passed to the production team demanding well-known actors to take the leading roles.
Instead, what the creative team decided to do is hire four near-unknowns to helm the series. Pauline Chalamet (big sister to Timothee), Armrit Kaur, Alyah Chanelle Scott, and Reneé Rapp represent the four college girls and lead HBO's newest comedy—and the decision paid off.
These leading actresses perform their roles with a robust dedication to the excellent material. They don't allow themselves to fall into the trap of serving themselves and their characters more than the cast around them, thus allowing for a realistic tone that feels nuanced.
2. The Delicate Balance of Individual and Group Storylines
Balancing a narrative that involves four women—all of whom have their own individual storylines—against the show's broadly overarching direction requires a deft touch.
Fortunately, in the case of The Sex Lives of College Girls, that balance is weighted perfectly. Each of the principal cast members has their own moments to shine individually as well as in the larger group.
College is an experience that's inherently a social one, with young adults having their first tastes of true freedom from home and parental oversight. The series portrays that feeling accurately while also balancing the struggles of each girl during her first term.
Mindy Kaling, Justin Noble, and their team of writers handle the experience of sudden freedom with the same energy that teenagers have upon that experience: by allowing the characters to make mistakes and hide while discovering flaws they didn't notice in themselves before.
3. Deep Character Growth Beneath Its Comedy Veneer
On its surface, The Sex Lives of College Girls is a comedy TV series. It has all the traits of a comedy show and is guided by comedy-veteran Mindy Kaling at the helm. However, underneath the series' hilarious surface, it longs for more than transient laughs.
When the girls aren't finding themselves in ridiculously mundane situations (like trying to cheat on exams to avoid failing classes), they're starting to realize the kind of people they are within.
College is where many youngsters finally burgeon into the adults they're going to be for the rest of their lives. During these years, the success or failure of who they become rests entirely on their own decisions.
The Sex Lives of College Girls tonally matches the comedic and exaggerated elements needed to entertain the audience with each girl's quest for personal fulfillment. That's what gives it staying power.
Each chapter is important because of the girls' learning curves and personal growth. As an adult viewer, you know which paths are right and wrong through the benefit of hindsight—but much like any parent, you can do nothing but allow them to make their own mistakes.
4. Unflinching Exploration of Societal Issues
With the recent births of many cultural movements and changing societal tastes, several issues once buried by hegemonic power have come to public consciousness—particularly challenges faced by young women.
With The Sex Lives of College Girls, many of those issues are tackled by the storylines, but never in a way that feels forced, pandering, or shoved in for the sake of mere relevance.
As it forms its core around the four main characters, the series gives the girls a platform they can always rely on to discuss their struggles. As a result, it can gently make points about toxic masculinity and dramatic shifts in cultural acceptance without going overboard.
In dealing with topics like sexual assault, the objectification of young women, and emotional manipulation, Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble's series finds itself in a place that feels familiar yet new all the same, making it all that much more intriguing to watch.