By Broden McCune
Every week, my friends and I huddle around a 32-inch screen in our dorm room to watch what we call the best, worst show streaming now: “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” The HBO Max show is the pinnacle of crappy teenage drama, and as the title proclaims, it almost entirely revolves around sex.
With that being said, it feels like the plot always stays strong. Positive and negative views are expressed throughout the show, specifically surrounding, you guessed it, sex. It’s an easy show to watch, as this nonstop drama keeps any viewer roped in, especially my friends and I, all of whom fit the “College Girls” moniker. A fictional, seemingly prestigious university named Essex College serves as the backdrop for this series, and it draws inspiration from a lot of different Ivy League and other high-ranking schools, with its geographical location in rural Vermont (alluding to Dartmouth in Northern New Hampshire), and classical backdrop, with tall and traditional architecture. However, this inspired setting allows the writers to formulate loads of plot drama, for better or worse.
The main characters are juxtaposed with each other in the most basic of senses though. One, Kimberly Finkle, is a small-town girl whose family is too poor to pay for her schooling, while her roommate, Leighton Murray, is a rich legacy student who struggles with more internalized problems. The other two roommates are Whitney Chase (daughter of a famed senator and star soccer player) and Bela Malhotra, a hopeful Indian-American student looking to break down barriers in comedy. Don’t worry, they all come with their fair share of drama.
As the two seasons progress, the four main characters seem to run into conflict that seems, well, very real for college-aged women. Discrimination, assault, mental health conflicts, relationships and many more issues. In fact, the high note of this show is the amount of drama that happens. It keeps the viewer easily engaged, as there’s always a new plot point or some twist going on.
But, in all honesty, the intense amount of conflict is where the writers tend to hit a roadblock. This show is very obviously written by a team that was in college years (and years) ago. Even five years ago, the landscape of college was completely different, with the constant change in technology and social issues that seem to evolve every day. Now, are these issues and changes addressed? Sure. Are they addressed well? Probably not.
Mindy Kaling seems to be the mastermind behind this series and you can see her fingerprints all over it. Some jokes are even recycled from past projects, and even down to the basic characters, the writing gets lazy. Looking at even just a synopsis for this show would raise red flags for some viewers who pay attention to small details, especially in writing, the biggest one being the fact that one of the main characters is an exact reflection of Kaling in college. Bela, a woman of Indian heritage, faces extreme hurdles and hoops to jump over and through while trying to establish herself as a comedy writer. Sounds a lot like… comedy writer and a woman of Indian heritage, Kaling. Not to say that the themes explored by any of the characters are negative in any sense. They are all very real conflicts that are facing female college students across the country, but so many of them seem like a shell of what they could be. They seem stereotypical, and like vast generalizations of a social group squeezed into one character, who ends up seeming more like a caricature.
As more plot points arise and the series goes on, a viewer can see these characters evolve slightly, and maybe even be a model for what women watching the show could be. There are times when the show shines, but so many opportunities that seem to fail. Viewers can expect to draw a connection to some of the characters, but get caught up in the constant plot movement, and never really find themselves fully involved in one storyline. Overall, the show is, as my friends and I like to call it, the best, worst TV you can find. Relatable, but poorly written content never stops coming out of this script, and side characters never stop being introduced and disappearing. If you are looking for an easy, non-stop, and stupidly funny show to binge-watch on Max, you may have just found your next best (and worst) choice.