Want to Join the ‘Pen15’ Club?

By Andrea Lee
Staff Reporter

Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle relive the horror of adolescence. Photo courtesy of Hulu.

It seems the new era of TV centered around the interesting time of puberty, something that every single person faces, captures audiences who felt they were alone while discovering their own bodies during adolescence.

With this nostalgia craze on the rise, Netflix has dominated the trend with their hit original series “Big Mouth” and “Sex Education.” However, Hulu has come in with a show of their own, “Pen15.”

“Pen15” follows the lives of the show’s creators, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, at the start of seventh grade in the year 2000 and follows their journey of friendship, peer pressure, boys and what screen name to pick on AIM.

The show ventures past the stereotypes of how adults think kids are at that age and really portrays them as three-dimensional characters with emotions that everyone has gone through. The situations shown in the show are real events everyone has gone through, and the words used feel so real because they feel like words your friends have said or maybe even you have said.

With a unique twist of having the creators of the show play themselves as 13-year-olds surrounded by real, middle-school aged actors is a style of visual comedy that will make everyone laugh. The way the two play their younger selves so effortlessly, you sometimes forget that they are two grown women until you see Anna trying to flirt with her much younger counterpart.

The kids that work alongside Erskine and Konkle bring to the show a sense of realness and true comedy. Young actress Anna Pniowsky, who plays the it-girl, delivers her character with great comedic timing and portrays her character in a way that helps you understand why everyone is desperate to be her friend.

The show goes into deeper themes like bullying, racism and how hard life is to navigate at such a young age, especially when the discrimination is geared towards you. This appears as Maya strives to fit in all the while her classmates are dubbing her with mean nicknames and making racist remarks.

Throughout the show, she never acts differently than who she really is and always embraces her heritage. Anna displays what it is like dealing with such devastating situations while trying to be yourself in such a beautiful and truly hilarious way that shows people that they are not alone and can get through this.

“Pen15,” with a talented cast and crew and a critics score of 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, is a hidden gem that would make a great show to binge over spring break.

9 out of 10 torches.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, arts and entertainment, Recent Posts, Recent Stories, TV Review

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