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It was the middle of the night over winter break when my best friend texted me: “You need to watch this show! It is so us!” I just glanced at her message before starting the next episode of The Vampire Diaries for the thousandth time. But a few weeks later, she brought it up again, and I thought, let’s give it a shot. I asked for the name again. She said PEN15. At that exact moment, I knew it would be a good show with a title like that. I love a clever joke. 

Within the first five minutes of watching PEN15, which is a Hulu original, I knew this show was something special. PEN15 follows the semi-true lives of the creators and lead actors, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, when they were in middle school. Set in the year 2000, the show touches upon every awkward, cringey moment middle school scarred us with. Although I was only 2 years old in 2000, I still related to everything Maya and Anna went through. From Anna’s first kiss to their first school dance, I swear, at times, I thought I was watching my own life.  

The show is relentless and unforgiving. It touches upon every aspect of the awkward middle school life. They show it how it is: how we all looked, acted, and embarrassed ourselves. Everyone’s hair was horrible at 13. Every episode is absolutely hilarious. I have laughed harder at this show than I have ever before. 

The best part about the entire show is the concept behind it. Maya and Anna play their middle school selves as thirty-year-olds while everyone else in the show are actual middle schoolers. But the makeup and outfits are so amazing that you care barely notice the difference. It is hysterical when you take a step back and think of thirty-year-old reliving the awkward things they did in middle school with current 13-year-olds. Plus, Anna towers over everyone which just adds to the whole thing. 

Every single person should watch PEN15 because not only will it make us laugh at all the stupid things we used to do and worry about, but it also shows us how far we’ve come and changed. 

Thank gosh I am no longer my middle school self. That would be scary. 

Courtney Morstatt is a Professional Writing student at Kutztown University.