In the time of Netflix’s soapy yet thought-provoking drama Sex/Life and sister shows, comedies Sexify and Sex Education, one would think a sexy, quirky, funny, and dramatic show about, well, sex, would be a no-brainer for HBO Max. Titles are deceiving, though, if the early reviews for The Sex Lives of College Girls are any indication. The word between the sheets is this half-hour dramedy is network TV faire and a mixed bag of good and mundane.
“The cheekiest joke in The Sex Lives of College Girls is that title. It’s one that seems to promise sleaze and scandal, only for the show to deliver little of either,” writes Angie Han for the Hollywood Reporter. “In the show’s telling, the actual sex lives of its college girls aren’t all that interesting — when they do get laid, the scenes are tame, PG-13 stuff.”
Han explains where she believes the charm of the show lies: “The real excitement of campus life lies in the unprecedented freedom it offers young adults to discover or reinvent themselves amid a sea of other young adults doing exactly the same [but] for the most part, The Sex Lives of College Girls feels like the TV equivalent of dorm-room pizza: nothing novel or fancy, perhaps, but warm and gooey enough to satisfy, [has] potential to become something more daring [and] deserves the chance to come into its own alongside its girls.”
Alexis Soloski at the New York Times calls the series “a work of clickbait-and-switch” but also finds the storyline endearing.
“It is absolutely about college girls, and those girls do have sex lives,” she writes, “[but] the show instead treats undergraduate intimacy with the friendly skepticism it deserves. There’s mortification, bewilderment, klutzy desire and sometimes, between rounds of beer pong, the stirrings of self-discovery.”
“A delightful teen comedy romp… a giddy combination of racy humor and heartfelt friendships” is Saloni Gajjar’s first impression. Writing for The AV Club, she compares the series to Sex And The City from over two decades ago and points out how they both focus on crafting authentic friendships.
“The depiction of sex isn’t nearly as risqué as in fellow teen comedy Sex Education, but Sex Lives Of College Girls is still (author) Kaling’s boldest work so far. The young characters here are uninhibited thanks to the lack of adult supervision. The way the show tackles how teens cope with sudden freedom is both funny and truthful.”
CNN reminds us of HBO’s storied history with female quartets, from “Sex and the City” to “Girls.” “Yet The Sex Lives of College Girls carves out its own niche with a distinct voice and plenty of very funny material, capturing four young women from diverse backgrounds thrown together as roommates while coming of age as first-year college students.”
The Boston Globe’s Dana Gerber takes a different tone, though, describing the series as about ten years past its prime.
“It hits all the marks of a hackneyed teen soap [but] the show has its moments — especially when it hones in on the relationships among the four roommates,” Gerber writes. “Despite some clunky writing, I am curious to see how each character’s story unfolds.. but if the show is renewed, I’d offer the same advice I’d give any college freshman: Don’t try so hard.”
Have you seen any episodes yet? What did YOU think? Tell us in the comments below.