Monogamy, ovulation induction, differential equations, and white tears: Not every show can turn those into the perfect recipe for a situational comedy. The fifth episode of the second season of The Sex Lives of College Girls may not have solved societal racism, but it did push the story forward for many of the Essex ladies and find the funny. It even ended on a cliffhanger!
First and foremost, because I know you’ve all been worried, Theta’s charter was restored, and they can hold parties again. Thank goodness. I was really concerned about our girlies. They don’t need to fret about stepping outside of their shells anymore. They can go back to the same old frat parties they know and trust after a few painful weeks of partying elsewhere. They can make up for lost time with their sluttiest outfits. Okay, Kimberly can’t drink because of her egg-donation surgery. And yes, Whitney just got dumped. Leighton has chlamydia, sure. But they can still have a fun and flirty time! Bela can get them to the front of the line with a tiny T-shirt made for a literal baby. They can bully Leighton into telling them who in the group is hottest. What’s a homophobic microaggression among friends, right? The answer is none of them, by the way. Leighton’s ideal woman is herself. Anyway, the week is off to a good start. Morale is improving.
But they’re not without their conflicts. Whitney’s dealing with a racist microaggression that really shouldn’t be her problem at all. Her biochem TA, Paul, calls her “Mariah,” the name of another Black girl in class. And, as Bela later observes, another pop diva … but that’s not important. First, Whitney doesn’t want to say anything and risk being perceived as Angry™. Then, after it happens a few more times, she mentions it to Paul, and he starts crying about how he’s not racist. It’s the 2020 summer of reckoning all over again. Now she’s annoyed, because she feels like she should feel bad for upsetting him. It’s exhausting. The next time she goes to class and Paul eagerly starts to tell her about a podcast he’s listening to on race in academia, she shuts him down. Not every conversation has to be about her Blackness for him to be a better person, and it’s not her responsibility to keep tabs on his progress and validate him. Just apologize, do the anti-racism work in private, and call her the right name from now on.
What really helps Whitney during all of this is shit-talking with her soccer bestie, Willow, and Jayla, her friend from KJ House. They laugh about different casually racist stuff people have said to them in college. They assure her that she does not need to protect this man. They tell her that she should drop by KJ House and hang out with them more. It might be good for her! But that’s where her ex Canaan is … so she’s not quite ready.
Meanwhile, Bela’s upset about Eric’s date to a Theta party. Her name is Dana. She’s on the staff of The Catalan. (Bela’s reasons to dislike her are motivated by jealousy, but it is suss that this girl didn’t even apply to the women’s comedy site … right? Who’s to say?) Bela immediately wigs out, insults Dana a few times, and tries to make Eric jealous with a surprisingly down frat guy. Eric confronts her in the bathroom. Weren’t they casual? Wasn’t this what Bela wanted? Initially, she thought so, but now she’s not sure! Now she kind of wants to be Eric’s girlfriend! Sorry to Dana, but Eric’s into it. They’re labeled. Bela has a boyfriend now. After one night together, Bela is declaring that monogamous sex hits different. Communication has been Bela and Eric’s strongpoint in the last few weeks, give or take some moments in this episode, but that was remarkably easy. Surely some conflict is waiting around the corner.
Kimberly, meanwhile, is preparing for her egg-donation surgery. First, she has Leighton inject her with hormones for a full week. Then Leighton volunteers to drive Kimberly to Boston for the medical procedure. Leighton clearly wants to do a hackathon event but helps Kimberly instead. Leighton! Get your own thing! Break out of other people’s story lines, please! I’m begging you! She’s such a good friend, but she’s addicted to being a supporting character.
At the end of the episode, after experiencing fancy car services and telling Leighton that she loves her multiple times, Kimberly convinces Leighton to go to the hackathon. She’s settled in her dorm with blankets, her laptop, and all the raisins she can eat. She’s fine … until she goes to the bathroom and does lock herself out. But even that’s NBD, because Jackson the climate refugee lets her wait in his dorm until her suitemates get back. It’s pretty smooth sailing for Kimberly, which is nice after so many weeks of failure and turmoil. She has successfully donated a ton of eggs, and the hottie next door seems to genuinely care about her. The fact that she shouted, “Big boy runs fast!” at him while trying to be sexy is forgotten.
Leighton ends up staying up all night with the hackathon nerds and helps them come in second. In her disheveled state, she almost gets run over by her perfect woman: a girl who looks and acts almost exactly like her. Remember that detail from the bullying earlier? Has a new love interest entered the picture? Dun dun dun!
• MVP of the episode is the biochem student who walked into the auditorium, then turned directly around when he heard the TA say, “I love all Black people.”
• I really liked Jimin repeating himself to Leighton, missing the fact that she was trying to blow him off by saying he was out of earshot. The supporting characters on this show continue to be so nicely detailed.
• I never knew a girl like Bela who deliberately wore toddler tees as crop tops to make their boobs pop — say that five times fast — but I did know girls in high school and college who shopped in both the children’s and maternity departments for style reasons. Teens really do love a shopping hack.
• Imagine recording yourself singing Disney songs. That’s a low even for theater kids.
• If only that Knives Out reference had come a week earlier when Glass Onion was still in theaters. Damn you, Netflix!