"Much of the comedy is fueled by details of the girls’ sexual exploits, as one of the girls has an affair with her soccer coach, another explores her attraction to women, and the two others quickly find hookups," says Sarah John of the HBO Max series from Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble. "When sex is portrayed, it’s often some sort of 'first time' for the character, who experiences feelings from the fluttery and the delicate to the audacious and the empowering. But the show neglects to take that boldness-faces-bruising-reality-check spirit with the arguably more important platonic relationships between its female stars. The girls have conflicts with boys, in class, with administrators, in their clubs — everywhere besides with one another. As a result, the relationships don’t feel real, with their generally peppy group spirit leaving them less fleshed-out and unidimensional. Which is a shame, because the college experience of meeting and living with people who are different from you is a really transformative dynamic largely unexplored onscreen. When the show does lean into uncomfortable moments related to the different backgrounds of the leads, it pays off. One of the best scenes comes when the four roommates take their parents out to dinner. The restaurant is affordable to all but one of the girls. The ensuing back and forth and exchange of glances reflect the awkwardness of living with strangers that college provides, an awkwardness that’s one of the most fascinating things you can explore with an ensemble cast. College — especially randomized roommate assignments — is one of the few places where people are truly forced to mix. But The Sex Lives of College Girls only scratches the surface of that potential. College could be the only time when you live day in and day out with people whose lifestyles and upbringings don’t match yours. A show in this setting has the potential to challenge narratives about how we understand one another, and the best way to do it would be with thoughtful, engaging discussions between its leads. Instead, discussions around controversial topics happen haphazardly or get wrapped up in neat, cookie-cutter packages. The moral grays of life are ignored, despite the fact the morally gray conversations are the ones most of us need to have."
TOPICS: The Sex Lives of College Girls, HBO Max, Amrit Kaur, Justin Noble, Mindy Kaling