‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’ Recap: Season 1, Episode 1 “Welcome to Essex”

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Mindy Kaling’s The Sex Lives of College Girls finally premiered today. The series follows four roommates starting at New England Essex College. The premiere episode introduces viewers to our core group – Leighton, Whitney, Bela, and Kimberly. It follows them as they acclimate to each other and their new life at college. Read on to find out what happens in “Welcome to Essex.”

The Start of Something New

The episode opens as the four girls arrive for move-in day, each with an accompanying parent or parents. Bela arrives at their dorm first, and Kimberly follows. They begin to chat, mentioning Whitney Chase, whose mother is a senator. Enter Whitney (and her mom). Senator Chase introduces herself then set some ground rules. Finally, Leighton arrives. Only, she’s surprised to see everyone else. She was expecting to room with her two best friends, Esme and Francesca. She goes to ask them about it, saying she’ll get it sorted.

In the meantime, the group heads to a meeting with their FAF (faculty advisor and friend). He asks them to share their fears, and a few people do. Leighton, however, finds the exercise pointless. A little later, they head to the dining hall where they begin to bond a little more.

Whitney the Future Soccer Star

sex lives of college girls episode 1

Whitney goes to soccer practice, where she shows off her skill. In the locker room, a girl named Willow commends Whitney. But just around a set of lockers, one of their teammates, Jena, and her friend slam Whitney. They don’t believe she deserves to be on the team and is only there because of her mother. A little later, she goes to talk with the coach, Dalton. It’s not about the locker room, though. They’re seeing each other.

At the next practice, Jena acts aggressively towards Whitney. The two get increasingly heated and go into a brief shoving fight. Dalton breaks them up. After practice, Whitney tells him not to do that again. She can handle herself. Later, he sends her an apology bouquet of flowers and Kit Kats.

Kimberly the Working Girl

sex lives of college girls episode 1

Kimberly is hired for a work-study job at the campus café, Sips. While she gets along with her boss, her two co-workers, Lila and Canaan, don’t seem too thrilled. During one shift, Kimberly goes to talk with Canaan, and she tries just a little too hard to be the “woke” friend. (I should note she’s from a very white town.) Canaan leans into this, telling her an obviously fake sob story. Kimberly, however, doesn’t pick up on the sarcasm. As he walks away, Canaan hints at Lila also having a hard life.

So, the next shift, Kimberly talks to Lila, mentioning how inspired she is by Lila’s (also fake) story. She soon realizes the two were messing with her and gets upset. They continue messing with her, but this time she catches on much more quickly. Again, she scolds them. She just wants to make some new friends.

Soon, Lila and Canaan warm up to her a bit. During another shift, Canaan sweeps. A group of guys walks past, drops trash right in front of him, and continues walking. Just before they get out the door, Kimberly stops them. She goes off, calling them out and saying that they’re humans too and deserve to be treated as such. After, the guys pick up their trash and leave.

Leighton the Entitled? Legacy Student

sex lives of college girls episode 1

Leighton goes to get her roommate situation sorted out. Unfortunately for her, it wasn’t a glitch in the system. Her supposed best friends stated they didn’t want to room with her on their applications. She goes to confront Esme and Francesca about it. They reveal that they don’t view their group as friends the way Leighton does; they feel like they don’t know her. Leighton doesn’t agree. Angry and hurt, she storms off.

Later, Leighton lies in bed. Kimberly offers her a burrito (which she doesn’t take) and lets her know the others are playing Uno in the common area. During their game, another student named Nico arrives. And Bela, Whitney, and Kimberly are literally speechless. (I can’t lie, he’s pretty good-looking.) Nico’s looking for Leighton. Bela makes a comment about how lucky Leighton is, which is when Nico reveals that he’s Leighton’s brother.

They go outside to talk. Nico tries to comfort her about Esme and Francesca. Soon, she also admits that she’s been treating her actual roommates like garbage. So, Nico suggests she apologize and try again. Her idea of an apology? Brand spanking new iPads. But more than that, Leighton hopes they can start fresh, and the others accept.

Bela the Aspiring Comedy Writer

sex lives of college girls episode 1

Bela attends orientation for the school comedy society called Catullan, an exclusive gig. As the new writer submissions begin, Bela catches one of the editors, Eric. She’s eager to share her ideas. Him, not so much. He essentially pre-rejects her. Eric cites that with all the reapplicants, there most likely won’t be room for another female. They already have two. (Yikes.) Bela is disheartened, but not enough to give up.

In the dining all, she tells the others about a party Catullan hosts for applicants. She’s not sure she should go, telling them about what Eric said. Kimberly thinks Bela should report them. Leighton suggests Bela just show them she’s chill, and Whitney agrees. So, Bela goes to the party. She tries to talk to another editor, who directs her to the group of people she needs to get on her side.

When she returns, she tells Leighton about the party… and that her idea of being chill was giving multiple hand jobs. Leighton is quite shocked, but Bela is feeling excited and proud to be sex positive. And it turns out, it worked (even if she wasn’t necessarily trying to trade sex for a spot). Bela makes the Catullan team.

Hookups and Heartbreak

Earlier in the episode, Kimberly mentions her boyfriend, Max. Well, we get to meet him, too. He surprises her with a visit, hoping to stay for the weekend. At night, they take a walk, where they bond over their shared unexpected experience at their respective colleges. When they get back to the dorms and the others are sleeping, they decide to have sex (for the first time).

The following morning, Kimberly is excited and talks about plans for the day. Until Max ruins it all by suggesting they break up. Kimberly is rightfully upset. The others stand at their doorways and are also disgusted. Kimberly wants to know if the only reason he came to Essex was to have sex with her. Instead of giving her a straight answer, he tries to explain his viewpoint. Kimberly leaves for work, and the rest boot him out.

Whitney also faces some heartbreak. On a run, she sees Dalton on her route. She greets him, but he seems nervous. A few moments later, a woman approaches them. And who is this woman? Oh, it’s just Dalton’s wife.

You Always Remember Your First (College Party)

While out, Leighton and Bela run into Nico and his friend Cory (who totally has the hots for Leighton). They chat for a bit, Bela asks to see Cory’s torso (and he obliges), and Nico invites them to a party. When they get back to the dorm, Bela tries to rouse a very sad Whitney and Kimberly. They’d rather stay in, but after a rousing pep talk, they agree.

At the party, Leighton claims she forgot her phone (she didn’t) and is going to go get it. The others head inside, excited they’re at their first college part. They get their drinks and prepare to mingle. Kimberly gets a text from Max. He’s just “checking in” but then asks to keep using her Netflix (BOOOOO). Someone doing a kegstand falls on top of her, and she spills beer on her shirt. She wants to leave but runs into Nico. He offers to grab her a dry shirt and convinces her to stay a little longer.

Bela goes to talk with two girls on Catullan. They’re rather hostile towards her, though. They know about the hand jobs, and one girl mentions some of the guys had girlfriends. She finds Kim and asks to leave.

Whitney and Leighton are having better luck with the night. First, Whitney spots Canaan and they introduce themselves. Then, Whitney gets right to the point. She wants to see his room. He catches her drift and off they go. Meanwhile, Leighton is at a casino bar. Kimberly texts her to make sure she’s okay. Leighton exits out of her texts and onto what seems like a hookup app. She scrolls through and selects a woman to meet with.

The first two episodes of The Sex Lives of College Girls are streaming now on HBO Max. Episodes 3-5 release next Thursday, November 25. Keep up with our recaps and other coverage here.

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By Julia
Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds who joined the team in 2019.
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