Warning: The following contains spoilers for Sex Lives of College Girls’ finale. Proceed at your own risk!
The Sex Lives of College Girls wrapped up its first season with one of the main quartet’s future at Essex College up in the air.
A brief recap: In order to save herself from expulsion, Kimberly set out to steal the frat’s collection of tests to hand over to the honor board. When Nico caught her in the act, he told her to take the exams if it meant that she wouldn’t get kicked out of school. And while turning in the evidence did save Kimberly from getting expelled, her decision to cheat meant that she lost her much-needed scholarship.
Elsewhere, a heartbroken Leighton came out to Kimberly; Bela quit The Catullan (as did the other female members, who decided to start their own comedy magazine); and Whitney came clean to her mother about Dalton, while also growing closer to Canaan.
Below, showrunner Justin Noble weighs in on Kimberly and Nico’s relationship, Leighton’s self-acceptance journey, Bela’s potential new romance and Whitney’s post-Dalton future.
TVLINE | The scene where Leighton comes out to Kimberly is so wonderful. What made Kimberly the right person for Leighton to share that moment with?
That’s a scene that has lived in my head since the moment we were pitching the show. As a gay writer, it was something that I was just itching to write… Kimberly was the person I wanted Leighton to come out to because they started from the place of most animosity between anyone in the room. They come from the most different backgrounds probably, and Leighton could never imagine being vulnerable to someone like Kimberly Finkle because of her upbringing. But through Leighton’s story over 10 episodes, she’s humbled and she’s shown an aspect of her life that doesn’t match the perfection that she likes to project. And then suddenly, she finds herself not only in an aspect of her life on the same level as Kimberly, but reaching out to Kimberly from that vulnerable position. So it felt like a very nice bookend and a flip of status that she would need Kimberly’s shoulder to cry on.
TVLINE | Now that Leighton has made this small but significant step in her journey, how is that going to shape her story in Season 2?
Well, that’s something that we luckily get to figure out now. What we wanted to do with this story with Leighton, in particular, was to show a coming out story that felt accurate to us from an internal perspective. That’s something, as a gay writer, that I don’t see a ton of in TV, and I always wanted to address. Because the thing we more commonly see is like character X can’t come out because of external factor Y in their lives that prohibits them from doing so. They have parents who are religious and will disown them, they have a job that will fire them — all these walls that life can put up to keep us from being our true selves. But as a gay viewer of those shows, I always think to myself that while those stories are true, it’s missing the bigger point, which is that it’s really friggin’ hard to come out to yourself. And sometimes accepting yourself is the part that it’s hardest to show in a narrative. So that’s why we were so excited to tell this story slowly over 10 episodes, to really get into Leighton’s headspace and to show that she was struggling, and then take the tiniest, tiniest step out with Kimberly, and now who knows? Will it be a secret between the two of them that the other two suitemates don’t know about? Will Leighton jump out of the closet with two feet? That remains to be seen.
TVLINE | Is there any hope for Leighton and Alicia?
[Laughs] What I’ll say there is that Alicia, portrayed by Midori Francis, is one of my absolute favorite characters, and Midori is so incredibly talented and magnetic and watchable. And the chemistry between her and Reneé [Rapp], who I think the absolute world of as a performer, is something that I can’t imagine not giving myself more of as a viewer, let alone the writer.
TVLINE | The way the show subverts the hot jock and nerdy girl stereotypes really makes me want to root for Nico and Kimberly, even though what he did, not telling her about his girlfriend, was terrible. But then he does something nice like telling her to take the tests. So does Nico have real feelings for Kimberly?
I think Nico does have real feelings for Kimberly, and I think he kind of had them all along. We wanted it to feel like we were living in a gray area where we didn’t exactly know what was up with these two, and the performers played that beautifully. We saw Kimberly pining after Nico, and we were watching Nico in a way where we couldn’t quite pin down where he was. But in the finale, we see he does care about this girl who kind of pursued him at her own expense. She came in assuming she would be the academically ambitious and thriving student, and then she’s knocked down first because the classes are more difficult than she thought…. Then in pursuit of Nico, [she] just falls further and further behind. And then Nico, doing a kindness at his own expense to help her out when he sees her floundering, it didn’t feel like it was an attempt to right the wrong of cheating, because I don’t think that’s a fair thing. I don’t think we should walk away from that going, “Oh, maybe he’s a good guy.” He was a bad guy in terms of a love interest to her. But it does show that he cares about her, and maybe he’s an imperfect character, but he did have true feelings for her all along.
TVLINE | Kimberly didn’t get expelled, but she lost her scholarship. So where does that leave her? Because $23,000 does not sound like an amount you can make with just work-study.
It leaves her in a whole lot of trouble. We’ll just have to see now that we’re lucky enough to keep her story going, how she’s going to get out of that hole. We did a ton of research on this. I am a bit of a nerd and, as such, have a lot of friends who are nerds, who are professors. [Laughs] So I’ve done a lot of reading about ethics codes at different small colleges. This is a place where some students sometimes find themselves, where they’re on a scholarship, but because of some mistake that was made, you’re basically told, “OK, well, we’re not expelling you. But you’re not going to be able to come back because we cannot give you any of the the merit-based scholarships.”
TVLINE | Since Kimberly handed over the tests, is that going to have fallout for Nico and/or the frat?
I think it most certainly will. If you watch the show pretty closely, in Episode 5, we kind of allude that some of the frats are on strike two of a three-strike system [and one] frat is now an Amazon fulfillment center. So I don’t think that bodes well for [Nico’s frat]. Now that the president has that information from Kimberly, here’s going to be some backlash on them.
TVLINE | Bela has had a bit of a rude awakening this season when it comes to The Catullan. Is Season 2 going to be a better experience for her now that you’ve got this female college comedy magazine in the works?
Absolutely better things are on the horizon for Bela. Bela’s story is one that was shaped so beautifully by all of the writers on our show, the most among them, of course, Mindy [Kaling], but all of our staff who have gone to schools like this who talked about the very common experience of a young woman trying to fit into an organization that was basically built for men, and over time evolved to be sort of co-ed but never really. So a lot of that toxic masculine approach to even something as dorky as a comedy magazine still exists. Opening the door to a world where Bela is doing something that she loves, but now with female cohorts, seems really exciting to us. But as you can imagine, of course, that might come with some new challenges that are presented to her.
TVLINE | That last scene between Bela and Eric felt loaded, especially the look he gave her. Is that respect? Is that attraction?
It did, didn’t it? I would say that it felt loaded to me, too. I’ll say that.
TVLINE | OK, a seed has been planted for next season. Got it.
A seed has been planted, yes. Both Amrit [Kaur] and Mekki [Leeper], who plays Eric, are just so hilarious and fun together. And we should be seeing some more of Bela and Eric in the future.
TVLINE | And what’s ahead for Whitney now that the Dalton drama is behind her — and I genuinely hope it’s behind her for good?
Whitney is going to be up for some new wins and losses, of course, as a student continuing her journey at Essex. We always intended for Dalton to be a misstep for her character to make. Again, it’s another thing that a lot of female writers on our staff have talked about. Pursuing the wrong guy and wanting to see the best in him, even though the worst is right there in front of your eyes, feels like a universal experience for a lot of these female writers who have talked about it, and I can relate to it, too, even from gay relationships. But now that we have her with Canaan towards the end of the season, they are so charming, and I want to ‘ship them more. I love watching them together. Alyah [Chanelle Scott] and Chris [Meyer] are just so fantastic, and the screen just loves them together. So hopefully better things on the horizon for Whitney, romantically, and in all other ways.
What did you think of the Sex Lives of College Girls finale? Grade it below, then hit the comments!