Mindy Kaling co-created "The Sex Lives of College Girls" with Justin Noble. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Mindy Kaling, who co-created the HBO Max series The Sex Lives of College Girls, premiering Thursday, said the show is sex positive like her Netflix comedy Never Have I Ever.
"I guess I'm more interested in young women and their horny exploits than I would have thought," Kaling said on a Television Critics Association Zoom panel.
Kaling said Sex Lives is not autobiographical for herself or co-creator Justin Noble. Sex Lives introduces four college freshmen at the fictional Essex College who pursue sex as much as their studies or extra-curricular activities.
"One thing that a lot of my shows and projects have in common are young women who have big personalities and big ambitions," Kaling said. "They came in there with a real singular purpose and one of them is also to have a lot of sex."
Alyah Chanelle Scott plays Whitney, a soccer player eager to be free of her overprotective senator mother. Scott graduated from the University of Michigan in 2019.
"When I was picking colleges, I was like, 'I'm going to go to a college where I can party and go to football games and have a college experience,'" Scott said. "It's messy, it's silly, and it's sort of this bubble where you can be safe to make all those mistakes."
Amrit Kaur plays Bela, an Indian girl applying to write for the Essex humor magazine while chasing boys. Kaur graduated from York University in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in fine arts in acting.
"I was a very sheltered kid, so I wish I had all the stuff that Bela's doing," Kaur said. "So I got to experience college through Bela, but I had a pretty traditional, conservative, Indian family, which made me in turn very rebellious."
Pauline Chalamet plays Kimberly, an aspiring lawyer waiting to lose her virginity with her boyfriend. Chalamet, older sister of actor Timothee Chalamet, attended Bard College.
"I wish I had lived in this one because this one is fun," Chalamet said. "A lot more introverts went there [to Bard]."
Renee Rapp, who plays Leighton, the daughter of an Essex alumnus rushing a sorority, did not go to college. Rapp spent ages 19-20 playing Regina George in Mean Girls on Broadway.
"I'm still college age," Rapp said. "A lot of the things that Leighton is going through, I am also currently going through. It's a bit traumatizing in the best way."
Scott said Sex Lives accurately represents her recent college experience, and that social media has made her generation more open about expressing sexual desires.
"We have so much access to so much now that we can do, say and be whoever we choose to do, say and be," Scott said. "We're more sex-positive, we explore things and we're not afraid to dig into ourselves and really figure out who we are."
Kaur said she values the opportunity to portray an Indian woman in a college sex comedy. In the past, the genre has been dominated by White men in movies like Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds.
"When I was in college, I didn't have a lot of role models or people who looked like me on-screen," Kaur said. "It's really great for kids to see somebody explore [sex] on-screen as one of the many experiences of a brown kid."
Kaling went to Dartmouth and Noble went to Yale. Although they invented the stories in Sex Lives for the show, Kaling said she and Noble incorporated activities from their schools like the Dartmouth Jack-o-Lantern comedy newspaper.
Kaling said the Essex comedy magazine reflects "how hard it is to get into" literary magazines and the types of people you might meet once accepted.
In that way, Bela may be the closest character Sex Lives of College Girls has to a Kaling surrogate.
"One thing I think that I do share in common with that character that Amrit plays, Bela, is my single-minded desire to become a comedy writer," Kaling said. "I've had that urge since I was 16 years old."
Episodes of The Sex Lives of College Girls premiere Thursdays on HBO Max.