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Series / PEN15

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"This is Maya. This is Anna. They're 13 years old. They're best friends. In the year 2000."

PEN15 (pronounced "pen-fifteen") is a live action Hulu original Coming of Age Story and Cringe Comedy series created by, and starring, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle playing fictionalized versions of their thirteen year old selves premiering in 2019.

Maya Ishii-Peters and Anna Kone are two best friends in the seventh grade during the year 2000 as they strive to navigate the changing world around them, from mean girls and first boyfriends at school to family problems at home.

The second season premiered on September 18, 2020 and continued with an animated special episode. The series concluded on December 3, 2021 with the remainder of the season.


Tropes in this series include:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: One episode deals with Maya discovering masturbation for the first time.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Maya’s mother Yuki has an episode from her perspective in the second season.
  • Adults Dressed as Children: Maya and Anna are adults playing kids (although they are actually kids in the context of the show).
  • Alpha Bitch: Heather, for sure.
  • Ascended Extra: Gabe goes from being an extra with a few lines in the first season to having his own subplot in the second.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Maya is diagnosed ADD this in the second season.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The second season is much darker and less humorous than the first.
  • Coming-Out Story: Gabe’s storyline in the second season involves him coming to terms with his sexuality although he hasn’t come out yet.
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  • Country Matters: Maura calls her mother a cunt. Later on Anna and Maya adopt the term much to their mothers’ horror.
  • Cringe Comedy: It could hardly not be. The gimmick (the protagonists are played by thirty year old women) is the least of the discomfort.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The second season has a special animated episode.
  • Gag Nose: Anna has one in the animated episode.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Maya is biracial and her half-brother (who is fully Japanese) teases her over it.
  • Meat-O-Vision: Anna fasts to protest racism and later sees Maya as a walking piece of ham.
  • Middle School: The story starts just before the protagonists' first day of 7th grade.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Maya gets hers towards the end of Season One. Also gets discussed in Season 2 Episode 5.
  • Period Piece: This show takes place in 2000 when Anna and Maya were 13 years old.
  • Photo Montage: The opening credits show photos of Erskine and Konkle when they were thirteen.
  • The Problem with Pen Island: Invoked in the show's title.
  • That Nostalgia Show: Does this for the Turn of the Millennium, dealing with specific early 2000s trends.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: After hanging with Maura, both Maya and Anna end up acting more obnoxious and spoiled.
  • Turn of the Millennium: The first season takes place in the year 2000 and is dripping with references to the pop culture and fashions of that time (Crash Bandicoot, Tamagotchis, curtains, and long cargo skirts).