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LIFESTYLE & ENTERTAINMENT

The perfect distraction from our hellscape

HBO’s Sex Lives of College Girls offers an ideal escape from the unending reports of regressive laws, untimely deaths of young people and general loss of hope in SA
Author: Ree Ntuli
Thu, Jul 21, 2022

If there were ever a time to be easy on ourselves and consciously choose the content we consume, it would be now. The current state of the world is enough to throw one into the dark abyss of melancholy.

It feels as though the harder we try to press forward and remain hopeful, the more we are yanked violently back. A seven-day week feels like a lifetime as each day brings with it a fresh set of devastating news. We have been in a perpetual state of mourning for longer than it is acceptable.

In June, the heavy-hearted community of Ratanda, Heidelberg buried three primary school boys, Lehlogonolo Khoabane, Katleho Khoabane and Tebogo Ngcongwane who were allegedly poisoned by their father – young boys who had their lives ahead of them. As if that wasn’t enough, we learnt in the same month of the 21 youngsters who lost their lives under mysterious circumstances at a nightclub in East London, an incident that would precede reports of multiple tavern shootings in the country.

At a time when we should be making strides in our personal and collective politics, society seems to be moving backwards. It is both shocking and embarrassing that in 2022 there is a global debate about women’s rights to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Teenage pregnancy statistics reveal a need for urgent intervention as reports show that these young girls are being preyed on by teachers and older members of their families and communities. Khaled Hosseini’s words about the children in Afghanistan ring true for us too, because as is the case in Afghanistan – albeit on a lesser scale – there’s very little childhood for children in SA, particularly young girls.

It was, therefore, a luxury to be able to switch off from the traumas of daily living in SA and be transported back to the simple life of my varsity days through HBO Max’s The Sex Lives of College Girls whose raunchy title doesn’t do it justice.

Created by Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble, the 10-episode comedy-drama series follows four empowered freshmen female roommates who come from diverse cultural backgrounds. They are excited about their future and are making the most of their newfound independence while also grappling personal issues: from financial insecurity, race, sexual orientation and identity, to relationship power dynamics.

Their lives on campus mirror those of so many of us who have been afforded the opportunity to go to university and experience its accompanying anxieties and pressures, a representation that makes them so relatable and might make you wish to go back and undo some of your own F-ups from that period of your life.

We meet Bela (Amrit Kaur), an aspiring comedian of colour who seeks to forge her place in the male-dominated comedy publication at the campus. In the first few weeks, she naively thinks her gender and race have nothing to do with how the world perceives her and is even willing to skip her biochemistry classes – the real reason her parents sent her to an Ivy League college to begin with – because she is set on becoming the next Amy Schumer.

Then there is Leighton (Renee Rapp), a brat from a well-off family who has her own issues relating to sexual orientation. She has a sharp tongue, is quick-witted and has her head screwed on correctly, even though hers is a deeply troubled family of weirdos who occasionally use dark humour to cope with their reality.

The third is a sex-positive Kimberly (Pauline Chalamet) whose main first semester goal is to find a worthy prince to deflower her so she can graduate from her theoretical sex positivity ideals to being an actual master in bed. Unlike the rest of the girls, she comes from humble beginnings but for some reason, she has convinced herself that based on the colour of her skin students of colour surely must have it worse than her. Her ignorance is stripped away quicker than her virginity, though, courtesy of her ethnic co-workers.

The last of the group is Whitney (Alyah Chanelle) a sportswoman who deals with her abandonment issues by sleeping with an older man in a senior position, jeopardising both her public image and that of her soccer team.

The incorporation of personal politics, current affairs with romance and social issues is what makes the show relatable and bingeworthy. It is a much needed relief from the horrors of real life awaiting us outside.

  • Stream The Sex Lives of College Girls on Showmax

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