Are you overwhelmed by how much television is available right now? Is life getting in the way of keeping up with the shows you wanna try out? We feel your tube-related pain. Here’s a handy feature that’ll help you locate the hidden gems in this era of Peak TV.
NETWORK | Hulu
CREATED BY | Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle and Sam Zvibleman
NUMBER OF EPISODES | 10
EPISODE LENGTH | 30 mins.
PREMISE | Hey, wanna go back to middle school? Yeah, probably not, so let’s be grateful that stars/co-creators Erskine and Konkle volunteered to dive right back into their awkward teen years for our amusement as 13-year-old BFFs Maya and Anna, entering their first day of seventh grade together in the year 2000. (Erskine and Konkle play their teen selves, mind you, while real teen actors play their classmates.) PEN15 chronicles the girls’ exhilarating, humiliating steps towards adulthood, complete with all the sexual confusion and embarrassing moments you’re still trying to forget. But at least they have each other, right?
WORTH YOUR TIME IF YOU ENJOY… | Freaks and Geeks-style teen dramedies with lots of humor and heart; Big Mouth-style explorations of the horrors of puberty; Y2K-era nostalgia (AOL Instant Messenger! The Spice Girls!); reliving your painful middle school days from a safe distance.
YOU SHOULD PROBABLY ALSO KNOW… | In just one season, Erskine and Konkle instantly establish themselves as one of TV’s funniest comedic duos. (If they gave out Emmys in pairs, we’d be rooting for these two for sure.) As writers and actors, they perfectly capture the exquisitely bittersweet struggle of growing up, and though the gimmick of them acting alongside real teens takes a little getting used to, it totally works and adds an extra layer of absurdity to Maya and Anna’s misadventures. (You actually kind of forget they’re not 13 after a while.) Each episode is funnier than the last, the pop-culture references are spot-on — one episode centers on the girls joining some boys for an illicit VHS viewing of the steamy R-rated thriller Wild Things — and there’s a poignant emotional component here, too, with Maya and Anna leaning on each other through some very traumatic times (and haircuts).
IS IT COMING BACK? | Yes! Hulu renewed it for a second season in May. (And we can hardly wait to see it.)
WHERE CAN I WATCH IT? | All 10 Season 1 episodes are available to stream now on Hulu.