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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ normalizes the quirkiness of sex

People from all backgrounds can find joy in the show that captures a shared college experience


By ANA BACH — arts@theaggie.org


Mindy Kaling’s hit HBO series “The Sex Lives of College Girls” has left Gen Z hysterical with laughter and has been deemed a “warm-hearted romp on campus” by Rotten Tomatoes, scoring a 97% on the Tomatometer.

  Kaling’s witty writing wonderfully — and realistically — uses sex as a form of comedic relief throughout the show. Oftentimes, the media portrays sex in an idyllic way, but it is also often accompanied by the overwhelming pressure to make the moment “measure up” to certain expectations for college students, which the characters in Sex Lives of College Girls display.  “Euphoria,” another HBO original, comes to mind when thinking about exaggerated, intense sexual moments between characters. 

A reason why many shows may capture an unrealistic intensity and dramatization in sex scenes is for the beauty of the cinematography, but this can be a reason why the sex seems so performative. “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” on the other hand, shows its characters in sexual situations without exaggerating the performance for the viewer, which leads to some awkward, but more relatable, moments.

  Eileen Wang, a fifth-year nutrition major at UC Davis, said that the portrayal of sex in the show represents intimacy in a positive way. 

“Because the four main characters are navigating life as first-year college students, the show does a really good job of breaking down platonic sex lives for women that are new to this lifestyle,” Wang said. 

Wang also highlighted the specific ways in which the characters challenge social stereotypes based on their external characteristics in the show. For example, Reneé Rapp’s character, Leighton Murray, is a preppy, elitist white woman, but she still struggles with embracing her sexual identity.

“Leighton’s attributes are a great addition to the show because [they] dismiss college lesbian stereotypes,” Wang said. 

As a viewer who is also in the process of shaping her identity in college, Wang expressed her gratitude for Leighton’s character. 

“I appreciated this show because I feel like I could resonate with every character, especially Leighton having trouble coming out while worried about how this would define who she is when it’s just sexuality,” Wang said. 

“The Sex Lives of College Girls” manages to bridge the gap between women from all walks of life — not just its Gen Z target audience — by depicting realistic sexual scenarios without pressure to uphold any social expectations. If you are looking for a new show full of sitcom humor, heartfelt moments and awkward sex, this show might be right up your alley. 


Written by: Ana Bach — arts@theaggie.org