A Review of Hulu's 'Pen15'

First, let me begin by simply stating that I did not set out to watch this show on purpose. Hulu's advertising is hella annoying but very persuasive. After commercial and commercial and commercial advertising Pen15, I finally gave into it. I'm really glad I did. 

Image courtesy of Hulu

Pen15 is based around best friends, Maya and Anne, who begin 7th grade in 2000. They're completely co-dependent, overly confident, and hilarious in their attempts to play it cool. Stars Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine (graduates of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts) also co-created their series with their friend Sam Zveibleman. The Lonely Island produces it and it was released by Hulu on February 8. 

Maya and Anna are who you used to be, whether you want to admit it or not. It's refreshing to see an honest portrayal of teenage girls in a sitcom and it's refreshing to see the true awkwardness of that age portrayed. Middle school can be a whirlwind and Pen15 understands this. The show doesn't hold back on any topic it touches, which include bullying, racism, masturbation, divorce, and having your first kiss. It's a painfully authentic show, with crude humor and innocence all mixed together. It will strike a response from any woman (or man) who watches, whether or not she (or he) was a teenager in 2000. 

The unique piece of Pen15 is that Konkle and Erskine are grown women pretending to be young teenagers surrounded by a cast of actual teenagers. It should be weird when they flirt with actual teenage boys, but Konkle and Erskine act so genuinely that you completely forget their real age. The two are brilliant in their roles and they have a genuine chemistry that is very hard to find on- or off-screen. While Anna deals with parents getting divorced and her first kiss (which was filmed between Konkle and her real-life boyfriend), Maya deals with discovering masturbation and reacting to casual racist treatment from her classmates. 

Pen15's ten episodes are sweet, honest, painfully embarrassing, and all too real. While there is no current word on whether Hulu will renew it for a second season, here's to hoping they do!