tw: sexual assault, flashbacks to college
While Keith was in Russia I watched the HBOMax sitcom "The Sex Lives of College Girls" in its entirety, even though sometimes I had to stay up late to accomplish this. I am currently this show's #1 fan but because I watched it so fast I will probably forget everything about in in another week, so I wanted to record my impressions before I forget them. This post has spoilers but only about one particular plotline, so you can and should definitely binge the entire show over the course of a long weekend.
I read a smart review of this show that noted that it felt dated, like "a millennial’s idea of what Gen Z is up to." But that is exactly what I liked about it. It was as though someone took my experience of college, at least the first two years of it that I spent at Kenyon, and surgically removed all the rape culture, homophobia and racism, then replaced them with ... joy and fun?!?! Whenever the show's characters do find themselves in unwanted or ungood sexual situations, the wrongs get righted pretty much immediately. And while I know that this is all about as realistic as a New England college campus where it's perpetually a sunny day in autumn, I still loved watching it. If TV is going to be escapist wish fulfillment, it's nice to have it fulfill a wish I didn't even realize I was still harboring. I had no idea that I wanted to watch Amrit Kaur's character Bela take a stand against her college humor magazine for harboring a sex creep until it was happening and I was like, finally!! Finally the Catullan, Essex's famous centuries-old humor magazine, will have its first female editor! (Or not, I don't know what they're planning for the subplot where the Catullan's women split off into a comedy magazine splinter faction, but I'm excited to watch that develop in season 2.)
That particular plotline is actually so much more nuanced and interesting than that quick description gives it credit for; I think the reason I latched onto the show is that it doesn't just Law and Order-ishly banish the bad guy and move on. To back up a bit: Bela is a comedy nerd whose one dream is to get tapped for the Catullan and in order to curry favor with its mostly-male staff, she gives six of the comedy nerds hand jobs. The senior girls on staff, who maybe didn't give hand jobs to get where they are (or did? who knows), are like "fuck you," and Bela is like "oops." But also her audition packet is strong, so she makes it through. Then, when she is getting a tour of the magazine's luxurious private clubhouse, an editor named Ryan gets her alone and creepily puts on porn apropos of nothing, saying it's a "funny video." She brushes this aside but then later, in similar circumstances, he comes up behind her and starts humping her. She quickly and unequivocally tells him he's weird and escapes, but she doesn't immediately tell anyone what happened. And when the Catullan's only other first-year woman, Carla, confesses to Bela that she's quitting because Ryan whipped out his dick at her and asks if she has experienced anything similar, Bela lies and says no.