Dust off your collegiate sweatshirts and stock up on some wine of your choosing because beginning Thursday, November 18, HBO Max will be the home of your next comedy binge with The Sex Lives of College Girls.
From co-creators Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble, the series follows a quartet of freshman girls who are attending New England’s prestigious Essex College. All vastly different and somehow the same in their shared struggles, the girls bring viewers back to the days of sorority mixers and dorm parties that will have you reminiscing while laughing out loud.
Kimberly (Pauline Chalamet)
“Kimberly is very naive and has good intentions, but intentions don’t always matter,” Chalamet says, explaining her character’s well-meaning approach. “She has a lot of growing up to do, but she is a small-town girl and it’s quite out of her element when she arrives.”
As with most college newbies, Kimberly faces the challenges of making friends and finding what path she’d like to follow. “At first I think they only grow closer because they start to get to know each other more,” Chalamet reveals of Kimberly’s connection with her suitemates Whitney, Bela, and Leighton.
Out of the bunch, Kimberly is the academic who wants high marks in class and some decent tips from her on-campus job, but could a distraction knock her off course? Leighton’s brother Nico (Gavin Leatherwood) is her key to unlocking a social life at Essex. “I meet her brother and I’m like, this person really belongs here,” Chalamet muses. “As I’m struggling to kind of know if I belong there, I [develop] a major crush on him,” the actress teases.
Bela (Amrit Kaur)
Meanwhile, Bela is the should-be academic who prefers comedy to science and is busy making up for lost time when it comes to her sexual conquests. “Bela is a character who has not had a chance to explore her sexuality,” Kaur says. “She comes from a conservative background and now she’s in this new place and she’s excited to be rebellious, but then she has to come to the reality of race, patriarchy, and sexual assault, which bring her back to earth.”
Getting along with her suitemates isn’t Bela’s biggest challenge, but overcoming the reputation she quickly begins to build for herself certainly is. As for the suite dynamics, Kaur reveals, “I noticed, the cool girls, Whitney and Leighton, were paired together. Then the weird, quirky girls, Kimberly and Bella, attract. But as the season goes on, the pairing gets mixed up because we all realize that at the bottom of the well, the universal behavior, the insecurities, the fears, everything is the same.”
Bela’s reality is shattered when she discovers the path she plans to take in order to reach a comedy mecca like Saturday Night Live is marred by misogynistic and racist practices. But she doesn’t enter Essex as a comedian-to-be, but rather a neuroscience major, a nod to Kaur’s own life. “I was considering going into neuroscience before going into acting,” the actress shares, noting that she mentioned this fact to one of the directors. “Then that showed up in the script, that my parents thought I was a neuroscience major. When does that happen? That’s a blessing.”
Whitney (Alyah Chanelle Scott)
Whitney is a bit different from her classmates in the fact that her mother (played by Sherri Shepherd) is a high-profile politician. “She is experiencing freedom for the first time, but in a very different way, in the sense that she has lived a life that hasn’t allowed her any freedom,” Scott teases of her character. “Whitney’s on her own for the first time and she’s loving it and she’s really clinging to this freedom and rebellion.”
Despite her urges to break the rules, this athlete also dedicates much of her time to the soccer team showing plenty of promise along the way. But could unforeseen obstacles be too burdensome for her to overcome? “It drives her into situations where maybe she shouldn’t be,” Scott adds of Whitney’s rebellious freedom.
“As a unit, you see them go off into their own worlds and live these separate lives,” Scott shares, hinting at the mini-adventures that are in store for the ladies. “When you see them come back together, they all have secrets and they all have shame and more similar than they are different.” Little by little, “they start to realize that,” Scott notes.
Leighton (Reneé Rapp)
And then there’s Leighton, a wealthy legacy student who keeps any potential for close connections at a safe distance, which makes getting along with her new roommates a new experience for her. “Leighton is a mess,” Rapp says. “She operates in every space like she’s the main character and nobody can do anything to her or for her. For the very first time in her life, the ground under her feet is not a hundred percent stable.”
“She is confusing and aggravating and really mean, but you also get to peel back a little bit of humanity and it doesn’t make you any less angry with her,” Rapp adds. Over time, viewers will see why Leighton’s attitude is dialed up to an extreme level, but it’s just one of the many secrets that this quartet of ladies is keeping as the series debuts, and that’s part of the show’s charm.
Every episode peels back new layers to evaluate these complex women, thankfully with plenty of laughs along the way. Don’t miss their arrival and fun when The Sex Lives of College Girls debuts on HBO Max.
The Sex Lives of College Girls, Series Premiere, Thursday, November 18, HBO Max