Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first two episodes of The Sex Lives of College Girls Season 2. Proceed at your own risk!
It’s like the saying goes: When one eye-candy door closes, another eye-candy window opens. The Sex Lives of College Girls returned for Season 2 on Thursday sans Gavin Leatherwood’s Nico — the actor announced his exit from the HBO Max comedy in March — but the premiere made up for his absence with the shirtless introduction of a new resident hottie, Jackson (played by Mitchell Slaggert).
Back on campus after the Thanksgiving break, Leighton announced to her suitmates that her brother wasn’t returning to Essex College. When Kimberly turned over his frat’s collection of tests to the honor board, they began an investigation, leading to Nico’s expulsion. But don’t worry, daddy made a donation to Cornell, so Nico has moved on to a new school. And then Bela spoke for many viewers when she replied, “I’m so sorry. Your brother was gorgeous, and I’m going to miss seeing his face and body around campus.”
“Nico embodied so much of the spell that young Kimberly was under as she even applied to Essex,” co-creator/showrunner Justin Noble tells TVLine. “He is this person who has access to everything and doesn’t deal with the socio-economic strife that she deals with in her day-to-day life, and he was an objectively gorgeous human. So she just fell under the spell of this shiny object, but then he was pretty brutal to her.”
Kimberly eventually learned last season that while they were having sex, Nico had a girlfriend who was studying abroad. “He lied to her a lot and cheated on her,” Noble continues, “and I don’t think we’re super invested in telling the story of redeeming someone who cheated when there’s a sea of other people who Kimberly could pursue.”
Co-creator Mindy Kaling echoes the sentiment, noting that while “the character was so useful for us last season for so many reasons and unlocked a lot of storylines for a lot of our girls,” it’s important to stay authentic to the college experience, not to mention the show’s title.
“The beauty of a show like this and a lot of shows about dating is we want to, like, keep them coming. We want to keep it interesting. You’ve waited a year, and now there’s some new fun love interest,” Kaling says, adding with a laugh, “This show is a show about male torsos.”
On that note, Kimberly and her suitmates’ jaws nearly hit the floor when they first spotted their new floormate Jackson, a climate refugee from Kansas whose school was destroyed by a tornado.
“Jackson’s just a very different guy than Nico,” who had a “Manhattan playboy vibe” and “gets whatever he wants,” Kaling describes. The newcomer, meanwhile, is “an uncomplicated, nice guy,” whom Kimberly “underestimates because she thinks that he’s just like this hunk or whatever, and that’s fun for us to see how they first see him and what he actually is like.”
Read on for more scoop on what’s in store for Kimberly, Leighton, Bela and Whitney in Season 2, then grade the premiere!