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How “PEN15” Describes Middle School Perfectly

On Feb. 8, Hulu premiered its new show, PEN15, depicting the middle school life of its creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle. They show just how awkward middle school actually is. Though it takes place in 2000, and most of you reading this did not reach middle school till much later, they still found a way to describe everyone’s middle school experience no matter when you attended, and here’s how:

First Day of School

The first episode shows the first day of 7th grade. Maya gets a not-so-nice haircut and Ana has a fresh pack of glitter gel pens. During middle school, the first day of school felt like the event of the year. Coming off the high of summer, everyone is excited to reunite with their friends and see how much everyone has changed (especially Jennifer whose boobs got HUGE over the summer). Barely sleeping the night before and picking out your outfits days in advance, the first day of school can determine the rest of the school year.

Mean Girls

Every middle school had their clique of mean girls. They always had the latest clothes, the best lip gloss and were always considered the “hottest” in the school. You either hated them or wanted to be them. You tried everything in your power to stay away from them or get them to notice you. Hanging with them was the chance of a lifetime. Ana at some point in the season befriends the most popular girl in school and becomes a part of the cool crowd for a few days—though short-lived, she felt powerful for those few days.


Boy crazy is the term that can describe most girls in middle school. Those days are filled with a different crush that changes every week, tons of unrequited love, and if you’re lucky, your first boyfriend who you can hold hands with in the hallway. Ana gets her first boyfriend this semester and it reminds us of what it’s like to be in middle school and in love.


Middle school is when puberty begins to ruin your life. All of a sudden you know how the problems of growing pains, periods, boobs and raging hormones. PEN15 does a great job of showing just how simultaneously confusing and normal this time can be for all teenagers, especially in the episode dedicated to Maya masturbating for the first time.


Friendship is everything. There is nothing like having that one person beside you through the ups and down of middle school, and Maya and Ana’s relationship is a perfect example of that.

Middle school could be described as some of the best or worst years of our life. From its portrayal of being a social outcast to the beginning stages of puberty, PEN15 nostalgically reminds us exactly of what it’s like to be in middle school and is sure to give you something to relate to.

Hi! My names Allyn Haynes. I'm a recent transfer student from Georgia State University to the University of Georgia. I am a Journalism with a minor in fashion merchandising. If I'm not writing you can catch me listening to Frank Ocean or binge watching a tv show. Thanks for stopping by and giving my article a read!
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