Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble's The Sex Lives of College Girlsis back for its second season, and aside from yet another naked party, this season brings the collegians new challenges, wilder parties, and yeah, more sex.
Season 2 picks up as the four roommates Kimberly, Bela, Leighton, and Whitney return to Essex following Thanksgiving Break of their freshman year just in time to attend the sorority Omega Pi's winter party. Played by Pauline Chalamet, Amrit Kaur, Reneé Rapp, and Alyah Chanelle Scott, respectively, the girls tackle the fallout of their first semester as they navigate their love lives, new classes, and more parties, including nude snow runs, which, according to show co-creator Noble, is very much inspired by his own experiences at Yale.
"There was a group of pranksters who would do something like that right before finals and would run across campus and throw candy at people," Noble tells Metacritic. "I feel like there's a lot of nudity and nudity-adjacent things that happen at these older institutions, and they just are historically handed down from generation to generation."
The naked snow run isn't the only party from Season 2 that was pulled from real college parties. Noble gives credit to his young writers' room — though he emphasizes that he and Kaling "are still quite young, to be clear" – as well as real college students he's interviewed both before and after the show came out with helping formulate event ideas.
"I'm a pretty regimented researcher," says Noble. "I love to get into what feels real. It's really interesting to hear what they're going through, what is feeling real in 2022, and sometimes i walk away from those things with an issue that feels like it has to be explored because we have this platform to talk about issues that exist and that people are dealing with stuff which is something I love on our show."
One of the biggest surprises for audiences from last season's finale was Leighton coming out as gay to Kimberly, bonding the unlikely pair in a touching moment of friendship. This moment means the show finally gets to explore Leighton's queerness even further in the new season.
"I kind of wanted her to come out with a bang because that's what feels true to me as a queer writer and to so many of my queer friends," says Noble. "And then it lets us tell all these fun stories for Leighton about things that have traditionally felt like niche content, I feel, about the queer experience. My goal in life is for straight people watching the show to call their gay friends and be like, 'Is this real? Is this a real thing that happens?' and for their queer friend to be like, 'Yeah, it kind of is.'"
To catch audiences up to the antics of these college girls, the cast discusses their characters and what they're looking forward to for audiences to see in Season 2 of Sex Lives of College Girls.
In the first season, Kimberly was dealing with the fallout of her relationship with Nico (Gavin Leatherwood), Leighton's attractive older brother who was revealed to have a girlfriend who had been studying abroad. On top of that, after she was caught for attempting to cheat on her upcoming economics exam, Kimberly was nearly expelled by the school disciplinary board. Though she staved off expulsion by stealing the exam answers from Nico's fraternity, the board took away her scholarship, which put her entire education at risk.
In this new season, first and foremost, Kimberly needs to find a way to afford paying for Essex. She begins first with looking to get a loan from the bank, all while keeping her parents in the dark, but she will have to resort to bigger and arguably more dramatic, though still relatable methods.
"The second season allowed us to find nuance in our character's stories which we're so grateful for, because it's so cool to have been able to slip on these character's shoes again," Chalamet says. "Season 2 feels like a deeper extension of the work."
That's not to say there isn't already a love interest on the horizon for her. This season that looks to be her new neighbor — the hot climate refugee from Kansas (yup, you read that right) named Jackson, played by Mitchell Slaggert. But love (or even just hooking up) with him may have to wait.
"For Season 2, it's going to be interesting because we're gonna see Kimberly explore feelings with a person, but it's gonna take a back seat because Kimberly is dealing with something so much more important, which is whether she's going to be able to stay in school and how she's gonna pay for it," says Chalamet.
Hilarious, driven, and outspokenly sex-positive, Bela has been the sort of comedic relief of the friend group — that is until she started having a harder go at things nearing the end of Season 1 when she was sexually harassed by the co-editor of the comedy magazine she idolized and fought hard to write for. With the help of her friend Evangeline (Sierra Katow), Bela set out to start Essex's first female comedy magazine, and in Season 2, she looks for a little more than just professional help from her previous editor Eric (Mekki Leeper) to get things going.
After he helps encourage Bela that she has what it takes to start her magazine, Eric and Bela share their first kiss right off the bat in Episode 1. A situationship ensues, in which the once frenemies become a mutual hook-up.
"I knew it from Episode 10 of Season 1 [that] this is being set up. And I loved it," Kaur says.
As Bela struggles to find her comedic footing on campus these first couple of episodes, Kaur acknowledges the growth she sees and relates to in the character, as a South Asian comedian herself.
"[The writers] went deeper in the qualities that aren't stereotypes. They went deeper into the qualities of her being a sexual being, of her being a leader, of her being a comedian. We see so many South Asian Americans doing science, and that's a big part, but there are so many professions that we're all interested in, just as any human being," she explains.
After experiencing a major heartbreak but eventually coming out to Kimberly in the first season, Leighton makes some big changes right out of the gate of Season 2, coming out to her other two roommates and ultimately her community at Essex.
As a queer person herself, Rapp relates to a lot of her character's experiences with being a lesbian on a college campus. "I think it's all just my experience really," says Rapp. "I don't know if this makes me a bad actor or anything, but I feel like this is just me, which is actually very cool and very fun to do where I'm like, 'Oh this is something Reneé would do or something Reneé has done.'"
As Leighton more openly explores her sexuality this season, the type of woman she goes for may not surprise you if you know her character well, but is still an underrepresented type of relationship in media.
"A lot of times, when lesbian or gay effeminate relationships are presented in media, it's always a hyper-feminine girl with a more masc-presenting butch person or woman. And that literally happens all the time, that's life," says Rapp. "But also, what's so cool is to see Leighton, someone who's super feminine, be into someone who's super feminine, which [is also] very real and literally happens every day."
Once a star soccer player and also the daughter of a U.S. Senator, Whitney has been talented and successful during her time at Essex thus far — but her affair with her soccer coach (played by James Morosini), which came out to the rest of the team in the first season, complicated things. She had the support of her team, her friends, and her mother, and she began dating someone new in Season 1 — Kimberly's coworker Canaan (Chris Meyer) — but she has a big question in front of her in Season 2: What does she want to do with her life at Essex other than soccer?
"She's growing! The girl's finally growing," says Scott. "She's getting out of the soccer coach situation — thank god — and she's a person. She's a person outside of that, and she's figuring that out. And I'm so glad we get to see her do that."
For her first attempt at trying something new, Whitney tries out for the Essex water polo team — a sport she's never played before but thinks she will excel at nonetheless. She struggles to keep up in the water, but she is more concerned with keeping up with her peers, afraid that everyone seems to know exactly what they want to do with their lives — everyone except her that is. On top of everything else, Whitney notices a new coworker at Canaan's job flirting with him, causing Whitney to get jealous and even accidentally like a photo on the coworker's Instagram — which then turns into a whole thing where she changes her Instagram handle and Canaan notices.
"I love the situation that happens between Canaan and Whitney because it's like, yes she is at fault for jumping to these conclusions," says Scott on the topic of trust. "But also, there's responsibility that falls on him too. What are you owed in a situationship? Are you owed anything?"
The Sex Lives of College Girls Season 2 streams new episodes Thursdays