'The Sex Lives of College Girls' pursues awkward education

The title of “The sex life of students”, a new comedy, which begins its first term Nov. 18 on HBO Max, is a clickbait-and-switch work. ...

The title of “The sex life of students”, a new comedy, which begins its first term Nov. 18 on HBO Max, is a clickbait-and-switch work.

These are absolutely college girls, and these girls have sex lives. But anyone hoping for the scripted version of Playboy’s “Girls Gone Wild” or “Women of the Ivy League” series will have to look elsewhere. Rather, the show treats student privacy with the friendly skepticism it deserves. There is mortification, bewilderment, awkward desire, and sometimes, in between rounds of beer pong, the thrills of self-discovery.

Created by Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble, the series stars Alyah Chanelle Scott as Whitney, an athlete and the daughter of a senator; Renée Rapp as Leighton, a closed princess of Park Avenue; Amrit Kaur as Bela, a comedic nerd of conservative descent; and Pauline Chalamet (yes, she’s Timothée Chalamet’s sister) as Kimberly, a regular nerd and a scholarship student. Reunited as straight comrades at a prestigious college adjacent to Ivy, they confuse love with sex, sex with pleasure, and rebellion with growth. For Boomer, Gen X, and Millennial viewers who may assume these self-confident Generation Z kids have it all figured out, “The Sex Lives of College Girls” passionately suggests otherwise.

“All four of them are coming of age, so it’s a lot to navigate all that comes with that,” Scott said. “Hormonally, sexually, everything. “

On a recent afternoon, the show’s four stars met on a video call for a discussion section on sex and self-awareness. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Are the young women you play comfortable with themselves?

ALYAH CHANELLE SCOTT As comfortable as it gets at 18. You think you know more about yourself than you know. You learn lessons by experience, and they still haven’t had all the experiences to know all the lessons.

RENÉE RAPP Who really knows who they are? I feel like we are always learning more and more about ourselves and each other.

AMRIT KAUR The universal fears of an 18 year old are the same, really; their experiences are unique. With Bela, she thought she was going to be free just because she’s out of the house, and that’s not the reality.

PAULINE CHALAMET None of them really know each other. At this age, you begin to learn more about yourself through the mirrors that are held by those around you and the reactions of others to the way you act.

Why is our culture so obsessed with the sex lives of young women?

CHALAMET Instead of older women who have had years of practice and years to figure out what they want? It’s like, I wanna know that! I want to talk to women 50, 60, 70, 80 who are still having sex. But the answer is quite bleak. There’s a fetishization – a Lolita fetish, but I don’t even really like that term, because the book is different from the movie. What is really important is shows like this. We don’t follow girls who have crazy amazing sex all the time. It’s awkward and weird, and it gets funky in certain situations. These are the sex lives of female students.

SCOTT I grew up with white women centering on the idea of ​​what’s sexy, what’s beautiful, and black women centering on the idea of ​​hot, outrageous, voluptuous, and hypersexualized. It’s all about the male gaze. So I grew up not seeing black women having awkward moments, normal sex moments. Our show is cool in the sense that I become a black girl who has awkward and messy sex moments.

KAUR Black women are no longer sexualized; brunette women have the exact opposite experience. We are not sexualized at all – we are virginal. So now having a character that has sex and has all these ideas about sex, that’s really important. As a result, she finds herself in many dangerous situations, but also learns a lot.

How did the show stay true to the experiences of young women and where did you think it was maybe a little over the top?

CHALAMET I don’t know if the girls go to that many parties. Was I like, man, five nights in a week? What was I doing in college? Studying? I didn’t party much in college. I certainly never dressed for that. But I think there’s something real about the way the girls talk to each other.

SCOTT I went to the University of Michigan. I had an excellent school experience: I went to football matches. I went to parties. I was a major in theater. So it all sounded very familiar to me.

KAUR I went to York University [in Toronto]. I was so drawn to acting school because everyone was crazy, and I came from such a conservative place. I haven’t been to a lot of parties. I was the only girl left at home. So I too live vicariously through Bela. Lots of that stuff that I wasn’t culturally allowed to do.

CHALAMET I haven’t really had the best college experience. I identify with Kimberly because she has a hard time fitting in, at a private university, where people seem to have so much money. It was a big shock for me when I got to college. I worked throughout college in a farm-to-table restaurant. College is like purgatory: you are told that you are an adult but no, you are not. You are an adult when you leave college and you need to figure out what taxes are.

Did you feel the pressure to have a sexy time?

CHALAMET I really felt that pressure. People talked so much about their sex lives and who was sleeping with whom. I was in a relationship for the most part from college. And that was amazing because then it was like, oh, I’m squared.

KAUR I went to drama school. In the theater program, out of about 200 people, I was the only brunette girl. My teachers were like, “Are you okay with doing a kiss scene?” Because they see in the media that dark people are not sexual. So I didn’t have those conversations at all.

In your opinion, what differentiates the College of Young Women today from a generation ago?

CHALAMET In universities like the one pictured here, which tend to be fairly liberal institutions, I think the emphasis is more and more on safe spaces. It’s less taboo to talk about burnout. It is less taboo to express feelings and to express the need to find a community of people around which you feel safe and good.

SCOTT There is much less shame associated with sexuality, in general. Maybe it’s social media; maybe it’s access to so much information. We are more comfortable.

Most of your writers and directors are at least a generation older. Did you help them understand youth culture?

SCOTT Just certain words and certain things. I was like, ‘Look, I would never say that. Like, maybe you said it 10 years ago, but I don’t think they say it more.

What were the conversations about nudity like on set? Did you have a privacy coordinator to keep everything comfortable?

CHALAMET Kelley [Flynn]. She was awesome.

SCOTT It was like, “We want everyone to feel the best, the most comfortable, the most confident.” For some people, they feel the most confident naked. For me personally, no. It’s not something I can do. Because I always come into my own body.

RAPP I remember a very specific day. I have to settle. I was very, very hyperconscious, hyperanxious, just the 10th. I spoke to Justin [Noble, the showrunner and co-creator]: I was like, “I don’t feel good about this.” And Justin was like, “We can just cut the scene.” It was huge because with that little leeway, I was like, “I’m actually fine. Can we do it this manner? Can we film these angles? I don’t want to see my nipple, but the side breast looks good. I felt really, really comfortable.

KAUR We have this tendency to see what we consider to be perfect women on screen. We are all beautiful women, but not models. And different colors. And we make love. And that’s what the world is.

RAPP And I think we look pretty darn good doing it.

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Newsrust - US Top News: 'The Sex Lives of College Girls' pursues awkward education
'The Sex Lives of College Girls' pursues awkward education
Newsrust - US Top News
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