PEN15
PEN15TitleScreen.png
Genre
Created by
Starring
Opening theme"Demirep"
by Bikini Kill
ComposerLeo Birenberg
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes25 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Jeremy Reitz
  • Don Dunn
  • Scott Levine
CinematographyAndy Rydzewski
Editors
  • Matt McBrayer
  • Taichi Erskine
  • Amelia Allwarden
Running time
  • 26–36 minutes
  • 40 minutes (series finale)
Production companies
DistributorHulu
Release
Original networkHulu
Original releaseFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08) –
December 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)

PEN15 is an American cringe comedy streaming television series, created by Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, and Sam Zvibleman, that premiered on February 8, 2019, on Hulu. The series stars Erskine and Konkle, who also serve as executive producers alongside Zvibleman, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Becky Sloviter, Marc Provissiero, Brooke Pobjoy, Debbie Liebling, and Gabe Liedman.

In May 2019, Hulu renewed the series for a second season of fourteen episodes, the first half of which premiered on September 18, 2020. In November 2021, it was reported that the series' second season will be its final season.[4]

Premise

PEN15 is described as "middle school as it really happened". Erskine and Konkle – who were both 31 years old at the start of season 1 – "play versions of themselves as 13-year-old social outcasts in the year 2000, surrounded by actual 13-year-olds, where the best day of your life can turn into your worst with the stroke of a gel pen."[5]

Cast and characters

Main

Recurring

Guest

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
110February 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
215[6][7]7September 18, 2020 (2020-09-18)
1[7]August 27, 2021 (2021-08-27)
7December 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)[8]

Season 1 (2019)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"First Day"Dan LonginoMaya Erskine & Anna Konkle & Sam ZviblemanFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
Anna Kone and Maya Ishii-Peters are best friends who want to do everything together as they start 7th grade. Anna tries to get the attention of her crush Alex, while Maya is led to believe that Brandt and Dustin, the two cutest boys in school, are both in love with her. After Maya finds out Brandt and Dustin were just playing a cruel trick on her, labeling her the "UGIS" (Ugliest Girl in School), she convinces her older brother to teach her how to stand up for herself. Her brother tells her to fight Brandt, but she realizes that she can resolve the conflict in a less violent way.
22"Miranda"Dan LonginoMaya Erskine & Anna Konkle & Sam ZviblemanFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
After their classmates tease them relentlessly for playing with their Sylvanian Families toys, they decide to fit in with the cool kids, Miranda and her friends. They end up in Miranda's garage, drinking beer and doing whippets. After Anna drinks an entire can of beer, Miranda's mother comes home unexpectedly and accuses Maya of drinking the beer even though she only had one sip, and the two begin to grow apart because Maya is mad at Anna. At the end of the episode, they are able to reconcile their friendship and decide not to smoke the cigarette they were saving for that time.
33"Ojichan"Dan LonginoMaya ErskineFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
Maya discovers masturbation, and lets it begin controlling her life while Anna believes Maya is ditching her. Meanwhile, Maya's mother tells her that her deceased grandfather, Ojiichan, is watching her always, causing Maya to become ashamed of her newfound pastime.
44"Solo"Andrew DeYoungSam ZviblemanFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
Maya and Anna both vie for solos in the school band and choir, respectively, for the fall concert. While Anna wins her solo and hopes to get Alex's attention with it, Maya takes it upon herself to learn an impromptu solo from her neighbor and rival Sam, so that she can impress her musician father who is coming home from his tour to see her perform. Meanwhile, Anna begins to grow close to an awkward boy named Brendan. At the recital, Maya lets loose and plays a random piece of music, embarrassing herself, but her father tells her that he is still proud.
55"Community Service"Andrew DeYoungJessica WatsonFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
Anna and Maya perform in a community service fashion show alongside popular girl Heather and her mother when they fall into the possession of Heather's thong. They begin wearing the thong to school, and Maya realizes she doesn't want to give it back. The two girls begin trading the thong and wearing it proudly until Heather becomes suspicious and is forced to admit what she lost. Everyone then gets mad at Maya and Anna, and they realize that giving back the thong is the right thing to do.
66"Posh"Andrew DeYoungAndrew Rhymer & Jeff ChanFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
While practicing for a Spice Girls-themed school project, Maya calls dibs on being Posh Spice, but is told she cannot because of her race. The other girls then begin hurling more racially charged taunts at Maya, while Anna is too afraid of her reputation to step in to help. Maya is even accused of being racist by her family for showing them the racist act she had to do because the other girls told her to. Anna gathers a group of drama students to do a small performance about race after the principal refuses to put on one for the entire school, but she gets in trouble and creates a rift with Maya.
77"AIM"Sam ZviblemanGabe LiedmanFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
Anna and Maya create AIM accounts, and Maya ventures into a singles chat room where she strikes up a flirtatious friendship with a mystery man with the username Flymiamibro22. Meanwhile, Anna and Brendan try to add physical elements to their new relationship.
88"Wild Things"Sam ZviblemanMaya Erskine & Anna Konkle & Sam ZviblemanFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
Maya realizes she might have feelings for her rival, Sam, just as he begins dating another girl. Anna and Maya are invited to a showing of Wild Things at Brendan's house. Anna and Brendan have their first kiss, which echoes Sam's encounter with Kelly in the movie, but it leads to more tension than romance, and Anna decides to break up with him.
99"Anna Ishii-Peters"Sam ZviblemanMaya Erskine & Anna Konkle & Stacy Osei-KuffourFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
Anna stays with Maya's family while her parents go on a retreat to save their marriage. Maya gets annoyed at the special attention her family gives Anna, and later gets emotional when she discovers she is having her first period. Meanwhile, Anna learns that her parents are splitting up. The stressful events in both girls' lives lead to a dramatic best-friend breakup.
1010"Dance"Sam ZviblemanAnna KonkleFebruary 8, 2019 (2019-02-08)
Maya is upset when Anna chooses to go to the fall dance with Heather instead of her. At the dance, Heather tells Anna she's only letting her tag along because her mother told her to be nice. Anna and Maya reunite and get invited to be felt up in the janitor's closet by Brandt, who awkwardly admits he has a real crush on Maya. Meanwhile, Sam breaks up with Jenna because he realizes he may want Maya instead, and he confesses to Maya that he was her secret AIM boyfriend this whole time, which upsets her.

Season 2 (2020–21)

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title [7][9]Directed by [7][9]Written by [7]Original release date [7][8]
Part 1
111"Pool"Sam ZviblemanSam ZviblemanSeptember 18, 2020 (2020-09-18)
Maya and Anna get invited to a pool party at Alex's house, and they don't want to go but end up there anyways. They enjoy themselves, and agree that Anna should talk to Sam about pretending to be Flymiamibro22 on AIM and Maya should confront Brendan about breaking up with Anna. In both situations, the two girls end up causing more drama than they intended to, and decide that it is time they talk to Brandt about what happened at the dance. Although Brandt had told them to keep the encounter a secret, Maya revealed it to many people while trying to figure out why Brandt was denying that it happened. Jenna tells them that everyone is saying they're desperate sluts.
122"Wrestle"Sam ZviblemanGabe LiedmanSeptember 18, 2020 (2020-09-18)
Maya joins the wrestling team so she can spend more time around Brandt and get him to talk to her. Anna decides to join too, partially to get over her parents' divorce. Even though the coach is resistant to the girls being on the team, they gain weight by exercising, but after learning that the boys were making insults about them, they leave the team. Sam feels bad that he insulted them, as he did not know it would make them feel that bad. However, he still continues to spend time with Brandt's friend group instead of his real friends, who are surprised that he has left them.
133"Vendy Wiccany"Sam ZviblemanAnna KonkleSeptember 18, 2020 (2020-09-18)
After seeing how her friend is having trouble dealing with her parents' divorce and worsening relationship, Maya tries to make Anna think that they have become witches with magical powers. They discover a business card for a psychic named Wendy Viccany and take it as a sign, so they use their newfound fake abilities to force the boys at school to like them. In the end, it doesn't work - Brandt tells Maya that he hates her and never wants to see her again. Dejected and sad, Maya goes to talk to Anna, and they use magic to make themselves feel better. Other students report them to the principal, and they both get in trouble with their parents.
144"Three"Sam ZviblemanVera SantamariaSeptember 18, 2020 (2020-09-18)
Maura, a spoiled and manipulative rich girl, inveigles her way into the girls' lives. Maura campaigns for them to be voted "Best Best Friends" at school, and they readily go along with it. However, unbeknownst to Maya and Anna, Maura is bribing other kids with candy to vote for her, and lying about it. Maura invites the friends over to her house, where she brags about her old friend, a doctor who she had to leave behind when she moved. Maura's disrespectful treatment of her mother rubs off on Maya and Anna, and during a shopping trip to the mall, they call their parents names. Both girls' mothers instinctively dislike Maura. The group wins the "Best Best Friends" title and, during a picture, Maura gives the group one piece of a heart necklace, but wants Maya to take her previous one off.
155"Sleepover"Sam ZviblemanJosh LevineSeptember 18, 2020 (2020-09-18)
Maura invites Maya and Anna over for a sleepover with two other girls, one of whom is only there because her mother made her do it. Anna and Maya grow further apart when Maura and Anna trap Maya in the bathroom and make her do a Bloody Mary and Maya and Maura draw on Anna's face. Maura insists that the group stay up all night, ignoring Maya's protests, but soon enough she is accused of clogging the toilet, leading to the fact that Maya had her period being revealed. Maura and the other girls comfort Anna, who is shocked that Maya didn't even tell her, but she later discovers that Maura's "friend" is really a photo cut out from a magazine advertisement.
166"Play"Sam ZviblemanMaya ErskineSeptember 18, 2020 (2020-09-18)
Though Gabe is starting to realize that he is gay, he asks Maya to be his girlfriend, and they rehearse for a play in which their characters have a kissing scene. Anna, upset that she did not get a role, joins the technical crew and begins to feud with Maya due to the stress of preparing for the play.
177"Opening Night"Sam ZviblemanSam ZviblemanSeptember 18, 2020 (2020-09-18)
During the school play, Gabe avoids kissing Maya, causing her to panic and forget her lines. Anna helps her remember her lines, and the two make up. Maya tries to kiss Gabe again after the play, but he breaks up with her. Anna's father tells her that he is moving out of the house and she will have to choose whether to live with him or her mother.
Animated Special
188"Jacuzzi"Anna KonkleAnna KonkleAugust 27, 2021 (2021-08-27)
Maya and Anna are taken by Anna's father Curtis on a road trip to Florida. They plan to meet a group of boys in the hotel jacuzzi, but they are stood up, and left wondering why. On the boardwalk, the two get their pictures drawn, but find that their drawings are caricatures, with Anna's nose extended and the roundness of Maya's face greatly exaggerated. This leads them to believe that the boys at the jacuzzi stood them up because they are ugly.
Part 2
199"Bat Mitzvah"Dan LonginoMaya Erskine & Gabe LiedmanDecember 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)
Maya and Anna are invited to a classmate's lavish Bat Mitzvah. Maya begs her parents to buy her an expensive necklace so that she can bring it as her gift, but when she presents it to her at the reception, it is barely acknowledged. Maya ends up stealing the necklace back and gives it to her mother. After hearing her teacher talk about The Holocaust, Anna starts obsessing over God and whether there is an afterlife. Steve and Anna see each other again, and Steve wants to be her boyfriend.
2010"Shadow"Dan LonginoStory by : Rachele Lynn
Teleplay by : Rachele Lynn & Diana Tay
December 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)
Ume, a young family friend from Japan visits, and Maya is jealous of her. In the middle of the night, Ume has to use the bathroom, but walks in on Maya, who is pleasuring herself. Ume is uncomfortable with what she saw, and Maya is embarrassed that she was seen in such a compromising position. But in the end, Maya apologizes for being "weird" to Ume, and they hug it out.
2111"Yuki"Maya ErskineMaya ErskineDecember 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)
Maya's mother is the focus of this episode. While food shopping, she runs into her ex-husband, who is there from Japan on business, and is Shuji's birth father. They spend time reminiscing with each other, and whether they've made the right choices in their lives. When Yuki returns home, she spends time with each children separately, and tells them how much she loves them.
2212"Grammy"Andy DeYoungAlyssa DiMari & Josh LevineDecember 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)
Maya is diagnosed with ADD and Irlen syndrome. Very shortly after Anna's grandmother comes to live with them, she passes away. At the funeral service, Anna and Maya can't stop giggling. Maya finally meets Derrick.
2313"Luminaria"Anna KonkleAnna KonkleDecember 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)
Anna and Maya participate in a Walk for Cancer. They meet a boy named Sean who has cancer and asks to be kissed. The girls are not sure if he is joking or not but decide to kiss him on the cheek. Later, Sean's sister confronts them and yells at them for thinking he may be lying about his cancer. In the evening, Derrick and Steve come to visit the girls and sleep in their tent with them.
2414"Runaway"Andy DeYoungRachele LynnDecember 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)
At the grocery store, Anna is approached by a woman who asks if she's interested in modeling and hands her a pamphlet. Anna and Maya are excited at this prospect, but Anna's mom says no, saying that it is likely a scam as the program requires a $3,000 fee. At the same time, Maya also gets upset with her mother, who gives Shuji a cell phone but tells Maya she is not mature enough to have one. Maya and Anna decide to run away together, and Maya dresses up as Anna's mother to escort her to the modeling session. At the modeling session, Maya becomes worried about Anna, and walks in with pictures being taken of Anna down to her bra. Maya pulls her out of there, and they later call up Derrick and Steve to pick them up.
2515"Home"Andy DeYoungVera SantamariaDecember 3, 2021 (2021-12-03)
The four go to Derrick’s house where they attempt to have sex. During an awkward encounter, Maya gives Derrick a blowjob, which she dislikes intensely. Anna and Maya go home. Derrick breaks up with Maya over the phone, and Maya’s friends resolve to egg Derrick’s house. Steve declines to join them, and Anna breaks up with him. Since Maya only brought squid, the group throws squid at Derrick’s house. While hiding after the incident, Anna develops a crush on Shuji and Sam gives Maya her first kiss. Afterwards, Maya and Anna reminiscence about their past and promise to take care of each other in the future.

Production

Development

On April 19, 2018, Hulu announced that it had given the production a series order for a first season consisting of ten episodes.[5] Erskine and Konkle were also expected to write for the series and Zvibleman was set to direct multiple episodes. Production companies involved with the series were slated to consist of The Lonely Island, Party Over Here, Odenkirk Provissiero, and AwesomenessTV.[10][11][12] On November 19, 2018, it was announced that the series would premiere on February 8, 2019.[13] On May 1, 2019, it was reported that Hulu renewed the series for a second season, of which the first seven episodes were released on September 18, 2020.[14][15] The first episode from the second set of seven episodes premiered on August 27, 2021. Originally intended to run for three seasons, the filming of the second season was severely delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and by the conclusion both Erskine and Konkle had new acting roles, as well as parental responsibilities. On November 29, 2021, it was reported that the series' second season would be its final season.[4]

Casting

Alongside the announcement of the series order, it was confirmed that Erskine and Konkle would star in the series as well.[5]

Release

On November 19, 2018, a video was released announcing the premiere date of the series.[13] On December 20, 2018, a teaser trailer for the series was released.[16] On January 18, 2019, an official trailer and poster were released.[17] The first season was released on Hulu on February 8, 2019, and the first seven episodes of the second season were released on September 18, 2020. The eighth episode of the season was released on August 27, 2021, and the rest premiered on December 3, 2021.

Reception

Season 1

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds a "Certified Fresh" 93% approval rating with an average rating of 8.04 out of 10 based on 46 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Viewers willing to suspend their disbelief will find much to enjoy in Pen15, wherein Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle reprise their adolescent selves – stirring up plenty of yucks and pathos amidst the farce."[18] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the series a score of 82 out of 100 based on 17 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]

Season 2

On Rotten Tomatoes, season two holds a 100% approval rating based on 42 reviews with an average rating of 8.82/10. The critical consensus reads, "An excellent showcase for Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, and their well-cast classmates, PEN15's sophomore season goes deeper into the nuances of middle school life without losing any of its cringey charm."[20] On Metacritic, season 2 received a score of 93 out of 100 based on 11 critical reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[21]

Accolades

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2019 Primetime Emmy Awards[22] Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle and Stacy Osei-Kuffour (for "Anna Ishii-Peters") Nominated
Gotham Awards[23] Breakthrough Series – Short Form PEN15 Won
2020 Critics' Choice Television Awards[24] Best Comedy Series Nominated
Casting Society of America[25] Television Pilot & First Season – Comedy Melissa DeLizia Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards[26] Comedy Series Jeff Chan, Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Gabe Liedman, Stacy Osei-Kuffour, Andrew Rhymer, Jessica Watson and Sam Zvibleman Nominated
New Series Nominated
2021 Critics' Choice Television Awards[27] Best Comedy Series PEN15 Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards[28] Comedy Series Alyssa DiMari, Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Josh Levine, Gabe Liedman, Rachele Lynn, Vera Santamaria, Diana Tay and Sam Zvibleman Nominated
Television Critics Association Awards[29] Outstanding Achievement in Comedy PEN15 Nominated
Individual Achievement in Comedy Maya Erskine Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards[30] Outstanding Comedy Series Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Sam Zvibleman, Debbie Liebling, Vera Santamaria, Marc Provissiero, Brooke Pobjoy, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Becky Sloviter, Shelley Zimmerman, Brin Lukens, Jordan Levin, Don Dunn, Scott Levine and Jeremy Reitz Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Maya Erskine (for "Play") Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[31] Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Melissa DeLizia Nominated
2022 Peabody Awards[32] Entertainment PEN15 Nominated

References

  1. ^ Rolli, Bryan (February 2, 2019). "'PEN15' is a painfully accurate cringe comedy with an emotional core". The Daily Dot. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  2. ^ VanDerWerff, Emily Todd (March 7, 2019). "PEN15". Vox. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  3. ^ Lindsay, Benjamin. "Partners in 'Pen15'". Backstage. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Goldberg, Lesley (November 29, 2021). "'Pen15' Ending With Season 2 on Hulu". The Hollyword Reporter. Archived from the original on July 2, 2021. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Petski, Denise (April 19, 2018). "Hulu Picks Up Middle School Comedy Series 'PEN15'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  6. ^ "PEN15 – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "PEN15". Hulu Press. Archived from the original on November 27, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Iannucci, Rebecca (November 3, 2021). "'Pen15' Sets December Date for Season 2B - Watch Trailer for New Episodes". TVLine. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c "PEN15". Writers Guild of America West. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  10. ^ Nemetz, Dave (April 19, 2018). "Hulu Orders Twisted, Adult-Themed Middle School Comedy PEN15". TVLine. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  11. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (April 19, 2018). "Hulu Picks Up Middle School-Set Adult Comedy 'PEN15' From Lonely Island (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  12. ^ Arthur, Kenneth (April 19, 2018). "Hulu Picks Up New Comedy Produced by The Lonely Island". Splitsider. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Franklin, Garth (November 20, 2018). "Lonely Island's "PEN15" Revealed Feb 8th". Dark Horizons. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  14. ^ Pedersen, Erik (May 1, 2019). "'Pen15' & 'Ramy' Renewed For Season 2 On Hulu". Deadline Hollywood.
  15. ^ ""Pen15" Season Two Premieres September 18th Only on Hulu". The Futon Critic. July 8, 2020.
  16. ^ Wright, Megh (December 20, 2018). "Here's Your First Look at PEN15, Already Our Favorite Show of 2019". Vulture. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  17. ^ Petski, Denise (January 18, 2019). "'PEN15' Trailer: First Look At Hulu's Middle School Comedy From Lonely Island". Deadline Hollywood.
  18. ^ "PEN15: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  19. ^ "PEN15: Season 1". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  20. ^ "PEN15: Season 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  21. ^ "PEN15: Season 2". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  22. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (July 16, 2019). "Emmys: HBO, 'Game of Thrones' Dominate Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter.
  23. ^ "'Marriage Story' Sweeps Gotham Awards; Full Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  24. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (December 8, 2019). "'When They See Us,' 'This Is Us,' 'Schitt's Creek' Lead 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards TV Noms". Variety. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  25. ^ Lewis, Hillary (September 24, 2019). "Artios Awards: 'Succession,' 'Pose,' 'Dead to Me' Among Casting Society TV, Theater Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  26. ^ McNary, Dave (December 5, 2019). "Writers Guild Unveils 2020 TV Award Nominees". Variety.
  27. ^ Schneider, Michael (January 18, 2021). "'Ozark,' 'The Crown' and Netflix Lead 26th Annual Critics' Choice Awards TV Nominations". Variety. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  28. ^ Schneider, Michael (February 3, 2021). "Writers Guild Unveils 2021 TV Award Nominees". Variety. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  29. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (July 15, 2021). "'Ted Lasso' Scores the Most 2021 TCA Awards Nominations". Variety. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  30. ^ Libbey, Peter (July 13, 2021). "Emmys 2021: The List of Nominees". The New York Times. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  31. ^ Libbey, Peter (July 13, 2021). "Emmys 2021: The List of Nominees". The New York Times. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  32. ^ "82nd Annual Peabody Nominees Announced". PeabodyAwards.com. April 13, 2022. Retrieved April 14, 2022.