‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’: Is Essex College Real?

Several hot new shows are dropping on HBO Max, and for fans, it’s an opportunity to enjoy a wealth of original content. One of the newest shows to hit the streaming platform in recent days is The Sex Lives of College Girls, a project from celebrated writer, actor, and producer Mindy Kaling.

The show not only highlights the very real sexual struggles of young college freshmen, but it showcases the way that this disparate group of young women is able to bond.

Reneé Rapp and Rob Huebel standing in front of a stone building in a scene from 'The Sex Lives of College Girls'
Reneé Rapp and Rob Huebel | Photograph Courtesy of HBO Max

With fans now streaming the first several episodes of the show, many are wondering about the creative process behind making the series, and whether Essex College is a real university. 

Is Essex College a real place?

The Sex Lives of College Girls focuses on four college freshmen, attending Essex College in Vermont. As dynamic and exciting as the campus seems in the show, many viewers might be led to believe that Essex College is a real place.

However, Essex College itself is fictional and was loosely based on a compilation of colleges in the New England region. According to Poughkeepsie Journal, much of the filming for The Sex Lives of College Girls took place at the renowned Vassar College. 

Additional filming for the series took place at various areas around Poughkeepsie, with Poughkeepsie Journal reporting that the production even hired locals to act as background performers.

In the end, The Sex Lives of College Girls succeeds in not only creating real characters but in creating a fictional university that seems as real as any liberal arts university. 

What has Mindy Kaling said about ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’?

For creator Mindy Kaling, The Sex Lives of College Girls was a labor of love. “As someone who had no sex in college, I was like, OK, well, this is sort of more of like wish fulfillment. But what we really wanted to do, Justin Noble my co-creator, and I, he came from Never Have I Ever, was we wanted to show what a really East Coast college experience is like for women,” Kaling revealed in a recent interview with She Knows.

“It’s so specific, this kind of East Coast liberal arts college experience … And there’s so many things I’ve not seen dramatized on TV, which is that it isn’t a melting pot, a lot of times at these East Coast colleges there are socio-economic differences between students … And my best friends are from college. I wanted to show how those relationships are formed at a young age with young women. And so that’s what this show’s going to be about.”

Critics have been loving Kaling’s take on the college experience, with outlets like Variety noting that “The Sex Lives of College Girls proves that there are plenty of ways for TV shows to tell college stories, especially when rooted in engagingly messy characters like these.”

Will there be a second season of ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls’?

The Sex Lives of College Girls has already proven to be popular with fans, even though the series just started streaming on November 18. With critics praising Mindy Kaling’s sharp writing and the fun performances by the cast members, the series seems poised to be one of HBO Max’s biggest new shows of the year.

However, there have not been any announcements for a second season yet. It could be that showrunners are waiting for a few more episodes, or the whole season, to stream before revealing future plans for The Sex Lives of College Girls

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