Whether it’s having cold sex in a library or dating your aesthetic twin, Sex Lives of College Girls challenges our main characters through experiences of love, lust, and less importantly: academia.
The sexond season of College Girls continues to follow four roommates at the feminist university of Essex. There’s the naive and good hearted outsider: Kimberly (Pauline Chalamet), the cutthroat comedy enthusiast: Bela (Amrit Kaur), the star soccer player: Whitney (Alyah Chanelle Scott), and the judgemental prep: Leighton (Reneé Rapp).
Although it’s easy to sum up these characters in just a few words, this season challenges our cast. Kimberly takes matters into her own hands with the expense of her friends. Bela faces the consequences of her cutthroat attitude. Whitney dives deep into biochemistry. Lastly, Leighton gets even gayer, but far less judgemental. I’ll tackle each of our four girls separately to talk about their individual arcs.
Throughout this season we see Kimberly continue to people please. In her relationships with family, friends, and love, Kimberly constantly compromises more than our other characters.That is until the end of the season when we see her make a decision that will cause riffs between the girls.
When we first see Kimberly it is with her parents. After having drove an inhuman amount of hours because it was the cheaper option, they have to drive back immediately. She still hasn’t told them about her scholarship being canceled because of her terrible cheating operation last season. Like the other girls, Kimberly is determined to figure things out on her own.
Leighton helps Kimberly go to the loan office to try and figure out a plan. For the loan which she will be paying off until she is approximately 60, Kimberly needs a co-sign. This is when we see the true nature of Kimberly. The heart of the show decides to seek help from a professor at the school. Kimberly would rather ask a stranger for help than her own parents in order to refrain from burdening them. After multiple bits of scavenging for money, Kimberly settles on donating her eggs.
Arguably, Kimberly is a woman for the people. She is a people pleaser at heart. She takes charge of a campus dining hall protest, and is often seen correcting herself for her exclusionary behaviors. My favorite instance is when, after talking about loving Christmas, she corrects herself by saying “winter holidays”. Let it be known, Kimberly doesn’t like Christmas, she loves ALL winter holidays.
We see this behavior also resonate in her romantic relationships. The first season’s Kimberly hot boyfriend was Nico (Gavin Leatherwood), while this season her hot boyfriend is Jackson (Mitchell Slaggert), a new student from Kansas. Kimberly is swept away by these very hot men with higher libidos. She comes to find out that she doesn’t really have anything in common with these men.
Kimberly is vastly different from her boyfriends. Nico is a cocky frat bro with a nack for having a secret girlfriend. Jackson likes wrestling and working out. In both of these situations companionship and sex take priority. As nice as it is to see Kimberly have fun in college, her relationship with Jackson in the sexond season seems reductive. Here she is dating another hot guy that won’t last more than a season.
This pattern seems to change at the finale. In the final moments, Kimberly and Canaan (Christopher Meyer), one of Whitney’s exes, kiss. Despite the love triangle Kimberly has put herself in. This seems to be one of her more vulnerable choices we’ve seen. Kimberly and Canaan know each other. They work together at the campus coffee shop. Kimberly pushed Canaan to accept an award he was indifferent about. This seems to be the smartest relationship choice she has made, but the catch is that Whitney still has feelings for her ex.
This is a decision that seems purely for Kimberly. She considers whether she should take confess her feelings for Canaan because of his history with her roommate. Kimberly ultimately chooses what she wants. Right now, Canaan seems to be the best choice for her. They have common interests and they have a friendship outside of their kiss.
Seeing as this is a choice that will cause a direct riff between her and Whitney, it’ll be interesting to see how Kimberly handles this in the next season. Will Kimberly apologize? Will she break up with Canaan? What will she tell Whitney?
KILLING CESAR…BUT FUNNY
Whereas Kimberly is a people pleaser, Bela is a people fixater. Bela is all about hyper fixating on the next best thing, whether it be a new career opportunity or the next hottest frat guy. We see Bela taking and taking over the past two seasons, but at the end of the season we see all of that crumble apart.
Bela uses her sexual prowess to her advantage. After the campus fraternity; Theta gets shut down for cheating, her and Leighton help organize a fundraiser where the offensively hot frat guys strip. This stunt raises $11,000 and helps recognize Theta as a fraternity again (oh, and gets them into parties). Bela also supports Leighton when she starts to have sex with multiple campus lesbians. Bela claims she “would be offended” if Leighton wasn’t hoeing around.
As empowering as Bela’s attitude towards sex is, what clouds this is the fix that she chases. As she continues her casual relationship with the editor of campus comedy mag; The Catullan; Eric (Mekki Leeper), their relationship gets complicated as her own ambitions get in the way. After the feminist comedy magazine that Bela helped create The Foxy, she uses her in with Eric to sabotage it, by printing a QR code of “The Foxy” on “The Catullan”. Eric, although immediately pissed, gets back at her by hacking her website. While the competition between lovers is cute, it gets messy quickly.
Eric starts dating another girl and Bela gets up to her usual antics. She has to be the best. She has to come up on top. So in response, Bela badly convinces Frat Guy #3 to be her pretend boyfriend and make Eric jealous. Eric can see through Bela’s schemes, but he falls for it anyways. So they start dating: Bela is back on top.
The high of being in a committed relationship quickly fades when comedian Dan O’Connell comes to campus. Bela being tasked to be his student liaison does whatever she can to please him. When being Dan’s personal assistant for a weekend fails, Bela does what she does best. Bela cheats on Eric to further her career. Then what does Eric do? Find out.
After being dumped by Eric, Bela retreats back to safe territory: The Foxy. The feminist comedy magazine on campus is gaining a decent following. Bela is putting all her effort in to make the magazine as successful as possible. Her efforts are paid off when a reporter from the school newspaper does a profile on the mag. This opportunity seems like the perfect pick-me-up for Bela after getting dumped.
It is frustrating to see Bela not learn her lesson. Bela lets this opportunity with the school newspaper showcase her, and only her. This leads the other girls of The Foxy to kick Bela out of the magazine. Bela’s last connection to campus has left her stranded. At the end of the sexond season, Bela talks to student admissions about transferring.
After two seasons of seeing a cheerful Bela do what she can to get ahead, we are met with an equal response to her greed. As sad it would be to see her go next season, I also want Bela to face the consequence of her actions. She got a taste of what that feels like when Eric dumped her. But running away from Essex, and to presumably continue on the same path at another college, is not the answer.
The walls continue to stand tall for our star prep. Leighton keeps the walls up as her father, played by Rob Huebel, laments about her brother being kicked out of school. As the rest of the season unfolds, Leighton slowly learns to be more comfortable with herself through many fun (but not fun for Leighton) experiences.
When Leighton returns to school, her confidence in her sexuality ripples. Her face replaces the blank profile picture on her dating profile. She attracts a lot of attention from the campus gays -and she loves it! In a make out montage, she makes up for a lot of lost time by hooking up with a lot of people.
Leighton makes a Lesbian Lap around campus and hits every vaginal spot. However, her sprint catches up to her. Though it’s not Leighton that is winded, but the rest of the campus lesbians. A group of people Leighton had been seeing casually erupt in her apartment. Three of her partners had caught feelings for Leighton also previously had feelings for each other. In this awkward exchange, Leighton sets the boundary that she is just seeing them casually and kicks them out. Her troubles don’t end there, however…
Leighton gets chlamydia -and doesn’t tell any of her many casual partners. Leighton thinks she can dodge the responsibility of her actions. Her insecurity is guarded by her facade again. She would rather play a part. As she runs away from who she really is, reality catches up to her at the Theta sorority party. During a strange sequence of sorority high jinks, one of her partners tells the entire sorority Leighton gave her chlamydia.
After Leighton’s Lesbian Lap she decides she wants to settle down. She waits to find someone that suits her standard: someone blonde, pretty, from a big city: a “dopple-banger”. Leighton wants to date herself -and she finds someone that fits her mold. Gracie Dzienny appears as Tatum, Leighton’s “dopple-banger”.
As picturesque as this relationship may seem, it’s still rooted in insecurity. Leighton worries that she is dating up; that Tatum has a higher status. Leighton, whose pride is rooted in her status, is backed into a corner. She tries to impress Tatum by taking forever to answer texts, pretending to be busy, and inviting Tatum to a secret event she knows nothing about. Her facade is foiled and Tatum encourages Leighton to be herself, because Tatum likes Leighton for who she is.
Leighton can be a bit more comfortable with herself now. Tatum likes her for who she is. A wall is down. Leighton has dinner with her father during parents weekend. Her father meets a college friend who’s daughter is -surprise: Tatum! The familiarity is the perfect situation for what’s to come. After some strained dialogue, Leighton comes out to her father. Another wall down.
This season Leighton is dealing with a lot of internal change. She starts the season off as someone much more like her season one rigid persona. But now towards the end of the sexond season, Leighton is walking with more emotional confidence. This is noticeable when season one girlfriend Alicia (Midori Francis) comes back into the picture.
Leighton feels the connection between Alicia much stronger than Tatum. Tatum brought out insecurity in who Leighton was. Their relationship kept feeling like a competition. Whereas Leighton’s relationship feels much more comfortable. Leighton isn’t worried about status or looking a certain part when she is around Alicia.
The core issue with their relationship from the beginning was Alicia wanted Leighton to come out. Alicia wanted Leighton to be more comfortable within her own skin. And since Leighton has done the necessary personal work Alicia wanted, their reconnection comes at the perfect time.
MASTER OF MANY
As the rest of our cast of girls starts the sexond season off with clear character arcs, our soccer star Whitney struggles a bit. At the beginning of the season she is faced with a dilemma, soccer season is over. As a big part of her personality, Whitney is forced to deal with an issue that affects her for the rest of the season: confidence. In her relationships of love and life, Whitney’s complicated relationship with herself is put into question.
The only thing Whitney is truly confident in is her soccer skills. At the beginning of the season she is a master of one. When that one thing is taken away from her she goes into panic mode. Whitney tries to compensate by trying out for the water polo team. In a disastrous attempt to play water polo, Whitney is hit countless times with the ball until she is knocked unconscious.
So she scrambles for something else…
Biochemistry. Whitney and Bela take the class together. While Bela is convinced she is going to do bad from the start, Whitney promises herself that she will persist. Whitney is motivated by her anxiety to be someone other than the soccer girl. Not only is she criticizing herself for being just a dumb jock who coasts their way through college, but she is criticized externally as well.
Whitney’s mom, Mayor Evette (Sherri Shepherd) is critical of Whitney doing well in the class. She wants her daughter to do well in school and she thinks Biochem could be too hard for her daughter. Whitney also receives criticism from classmate and branded “bio bro”; Andrew (Charlie Hall). While Andrew seems to criticize everyone, his opinions specifically light a fire under Whitney.
After some intense studying, Whitney is able to hold her own in class. She even corrects some of Andrew’s work in a lab they were stuck doing together. When her mother comes to visit, Mayor Evette pushes to get Whitney connections after committing to biochemistry. In this moment we see Whitney’s true intentions. Whitney declines her mother’s aid in getting her an internship. Whitney’s pride stems from her own accomplishments, not how other people help her. Whitney initially wanted to prove herself, but then found herself enjoying her studies. It does make me believe that anything Whitney sets her sights on, she can achieve -as long as it’s not water polo.
Whitney’s determination and power proves that she can do anything she sets her mind to. But it brings into question why her relationships are complicated and filled with insecurity. In the first season, Whitney’s relationship with her soccer coach (James Morosini) was filled with secrets and lies. Whitney constantly tried to prove herself by begging her coach to choose her instead of his wife.
Whitney’s relationship with Canaan was also filled with anxiety. Whitney constantly felt anxious that Canaan wanted to be with other women, when it was never the case. Her insecurities pushed her into searching through his phone. As her insecurities continued to affect her relationship with Canaan, he ended things with her.
In her third relationship that she explored for a major part of the sexond season, Whitney had a primarily sexual relationship with Andrew. Although she has some things in common with the bio bro, he can be very high maintenance. Whitney does not like him. Although she isn’t necessarily anxious in this relationship, her bond with Andrew isn’t secure.
As Whitney ends things with the bio bro, she tries to flee to safety: Canaan. It seems Whitney realizes that she can be comfortable with him, that she doesn’t need to prove herself. However, when Whitney sees Canaan kissing Kimberly, it no doubt brings Whitney’s insecurities to the forefront.
A CLEAR ISSUE
Through their adventures in love and school, the college girls we’ve grown to know over two seasons face one big issue; insecurity. As they try to tackle their insecurities in different ways, it seems that only two of our castmates turn out conquering some of their fears. Kimberly finds someone that she can relate to and Leighton learns to find comfort outside of her preppy bubble. Bela and Whitney still seek value in their accomplishments. They want to prove themselves because they are insecure. I hope in the third season we specifically see Whitney and Bela become more comfortable in their skin. I want to see these girls continue to learn about themselves and find what’s best for them.
- Lila (Ilia Isorelýs Paulino) giving the staff at Sips an “unpaid five”
- I love love love seeing Kimberly and Leighton tackle things together. They are both polar opposites, yet as the season grows they become more alike one another. Seeing Kimberly be so supportive in the right ways of Leighton’s identity is great to see. While seeing Leighton helping Kimberly along with her egg procedure shows just how much Leighton cares about Kimberly.
- “I have perfect pitch for vibrators” *proceeds to hum in the correct tune of vibrator
- Frude (Scott Lipman) greeting the first years as “fresh-them”
- Seeing Alicia back and confident AND AS ELTON JOHN was what I needed