Indiana Daily Student

‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ cast members talk sexuality, self-discovery

<p>Actors Pauline Chalamet, Reneé Rapp, Alyah Chanelle Scott and Amrit Kaur star in HBO Max&#x27;s “The Sex Lives of College Girls.”</p>

Actors Pauline Chalamet, Reneé Rapp, Alyah Chanelle Scott and Amrit Kaur star in HBO Max's “The Sex Lives of College Girls.”

There are only a handful of shows depicting accurate experiences of college students — especially women in college. 

Written and produced by Mindy Kaling, “The Sex Lives of College Girls” takes place at the fictional Essex College and tells the stories of girls in college that are not so often told.

It’s important for a show like this to exist because it’s about the newfound freedom and self-discovery within the college experience, Pauline Chalamet, who plays Kimberly, said.

“College is a very interesting time in one’s life to explore becoming who you are,” Chalamet said in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student. “It’s the beginning of being on your own to then become who you are.”

While college is the emblem of independence and exploration, the freshman mindset often includes thinking everyone has their life together. Channeling their characters required each cast member to go back to their freshman year of college, along with this way of thinking. 

“In college, people are starting to talk more openly about sex,” Chalamet said. “You think everybody has it figured out, but they don’t.” 

The show’s openness in discussing sex and exploring relationships is IU junior Radhika Krishnamurthy’s favorite part of the ten-episode series. 

“In college, there’s just so much exploration with relationships,” Krishnamurthy said. “That’s my favorite part about the show because you can’t really talk about these topics in a high school environment without crossing too many boundaries.” 

In addition to relationship exploration, Alyah Chanelle Scott, who plays Whitney, said college is truly the first time you’re able to explore your own identity.

“When you’re at home, you’re often held to the ideas that exist of you because of your family, friends and peers,” Scott said. “When it’s your first time being on your own, you exist as yourself, decide who you are and how you want to move through the world.” 

For a character like Bela, played by Amrit Kaur, college allows her to explore herself sexually in ways she never could growing up in a conservative, South Asian household. Krishnamurthy said she knows a lot of people like Bela who had been “sexually starved” prior to attending college. 

Kaur said Bela provides a more realistic representation of South Asians compared to what is often reflected through the entertainment industry. She said Bela’s sexual exploration and experiences broke down barriers and stereotypes related to how South Asians are portrayed in media.

“Bela has expanded and diminished the narrative that South Asians don’t have sex,” Kaur said. “Everyone is having sex, and we are having sex as well.”

While the series openly discusses sexuality in different ways and explores different levels of relationships, the way in which Reneé Rapp’s character Leighton grapples with her sexuality is something many people, including the actress herself, can relate to. 

“Sometimes, gay or queer characters deal with a parental, religious or value-oriented barrier that they’re struggling with,” Rapp said. “Something that happens with Leighton, and is more similar to how it happened to me as a kid, is that it’s so internal and so homophobic inside her own body as opposed to outward figures constantly telling her who she can and cannot be.” 

Heading into the second season, the cast mentioned many issues they’d like to tackle. These issues include interracial identities and relationships, the obstacles in female friendships and seeing more of the dynamic between the four women.

HBO Max announced Dec. 7 it would renew “The Sex Lives of College Girls” for a second season. The final two episodes of the first season debuted Thursday, Dec. 9.

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