‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ Season 2, Episode 4 Recap

Photo: Katrina Marcinowski/HBO Max

Of course, the holiday episode of The Sex Lives of College Girls ends with a “Kissmas” party at which every student gleefully yells that they’d been naughty, not nice, to a shirtless Santa. Never change, Essex. But not all things were merry and bright for the gals. Mistletoe hit the fan for Whitney, Kimberly, Bela, and Leighton, and only some make it out with their dignity intact.

Kimberly’s quest for cash pauses in this episode. Jackson, the climate refugee, asks her to come over and study for their Irish Literature class together. Is this a date? Is he planning to mount her like he mounted a flatscreen to his dorm room wall, in what Whitney declared was the hottest thing she’d ever seen? Yes and no. It is a date, but not for Jackson and Kimberly. At this study date, there is a third person: a dweeby guy named Fred. Jackson is trying to hook Kimberly and Fred up per Fred’s request. This hurts Kimberly’s pride. Does Jackson think that Fred is in her league? This is a great sitcom plot. Awkward, bad, unexpected dates are a staple of shows like Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother. But at the end of the episode, she not-so-subtly asks her what he thinks of her. He thinks she’s hot. Well, well, well!

Bela’s band of lady comics is about to launch its website. However, they’re worried about how to direct traffic to the site. They’re all friends with each other’s friends. How can they get the word out there? More importantly, how can they compete with The Catalan’s readership and the career opportunities that come with it? Bela hatches a devious plan. She and two other girls take advantage of a sexist older man at the print shop and have him change The Catalan’s latest cover to an image with a QR code for their site. It totally works, but Eric is pissed. He retaliates by hacking their site and changing the cursor to a penis. The Battle of The Sexes: College Comedy Nerds is on, y’all!

AND really like what Bela’s relationship with Eric is becoming. They’re friends with benefits and with conflicts that aren’t about them being friends with benefits. Does that make sense? Most of the time, in stories like this, the friction comes from one person having feelings that the other doesn’t return. But they’re doing great with communicating what they do and do not want from each other. They’re sabotaging each other’s comedy publications, not relationships. The rivalry they have is sexy. The respect they have for each other is sexy. I’m here for it. Compared to the, well, sex lives of everyone else on this show, they’re very lucky.

Whitney’s luck, for example, is not so great. She starts strong: she says yes to things because she has nothing better to do, advances in Kappa rush, and her biochem grades are improving. But since her academic and social life is up, her romantic life comes crashing down. That’s the law of episodic television, folks! To recap: Canaan asked Whitney to be his girlfriend. She thought she was already his girlfriend. Leighton, meaning well, tells her to ask the other girls at rush about it (She can’t advise dating boys, anyway), and the sorority girls say it probably means Canaan has been seeing other girls until this point. Then, Zoe from Sips sits on his lap at the Kissmas party. So, taking the advice the sorority girls gave her earlier, she steals Canaan’s phone and starts going through his messages.

She finds a text from Zoe that reveals she told Canaan she had feelings for him. Whitney confronts Canaan about this. It’s a tricky situation. Whitney should not have gone through his phone. But Canaan probably should have told Whitney about his conversation with Zoe. Technically, Zoe’s feelings are none of Whitney’s business if Canaan’s not interested — but Canaan knows that Whitney is jealous of Zoe. It’s not even like he was going to tell her later; he flat-out says he didn’t want to upset her and kept it from her.

Later, after thinking it over, Canaan dumps Whitney. He didn’t think this relationship should be this hard, he says. In retrospect, maybe the fact that Canaan thought Whitney’s “study geek vibe” was “cute” was a red flag. People, especially male people, want relationships to be “easy” above everything else. Even when you’re in college, they’re never. It took me right back to Cole asking Zanab to be “sweet and unassuming” on Love is Blind.

Finally, Leighton deals with the fallout of getting chlamydia. Why should she notify the other girls she slept with, she says, when the girl that gave it to her never gave her a heads up? MA’AM. If you ever need a reminder that rich people aren’t living through the same pandemic that the rest of us are, The Sex Lives of College Girls just served it up on a silver bedpan. you know that that thinking is why we’re still in this mess. Chlamydia is not nearly as serious as COVID, but the last few years have changed my thoughts about all germs. Has it not for everyone?

Anyway, her decision to take a pill and ignore it until it goes away immediately backfires when one of the girls she infected shows up at a rush event. Leighton is stressed about her sorority future, tries to brush her off and ends up being very redhead is this poor girl. But the poor girl gets her revenge by telling everyone that she got an STI from Leighton during a “Secret Seat” game. The Sex Lives of College Girls hasn’t touched on this since season one, but pledging to her mother’s sorority is important to Leighton. Her relationship with her mother isn’t fantastic, and this seems like the best way to impress her and maintain her lifestyle.

However, at the end of the episode, some things work out! Both Leighton and Whitney get into Kappa. That will at least give Whitney something extracurricular to do and Leighton a path to talk to her mom. As I said earlier, Jackson and Kimberly might officially be at “will they or won’t they” status, and Bela and Eric’s regular good sex became good angry sex. Not a bad shake all around!

• Carla and Lila are fast becoming my favorite secondary characters on this show. Carla has great energy. Lila’s “what the” as Eric tried to grab issues of The Catalan from her hands was so funny. More of them, please.

I’m torn. On the one hand, I really need these girls to explore college parties outside of frat court. On the other, why haven’t they been hanging at Canaan’s fraternity this whole time? It rules! Guess it’s too late now.

• Not everything in life is about dating, but this is Whit’s second heartbreak since starting college — that’s so rough! I know the debacle with the soccer coach was last season, but in story time only a month or two has passed.

• One more thing about Greek life. Don’t they love a legacy? Why is it this hard for Leighton in the first place?

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