3 reasons why Hulu needed to renew PEN15


Hulu has renewed PEN15 for a second season. After a first season that set the show apart, renewing PEN15 was unavoidable and necessary.

The nostalgia train rolls on for fans of Hulu’s PEN15. Per Deadline, Hulu announced that the comedy about two 13-year-old girls will have a second season consisting of 14 episodes (four more than last season). The series stars (as the younger versions of themselves) friends and co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle. The two also serve as executive producers and co-writers.

The comedy had its up and downs, but wound up delivering a solid first season. As I see it, there are three major reasons why Hulu had to renew this show that has become irresistible.

1. Nostalgia

There’s of course the nostalgia factor. I’m only two years younger than Erskine and Konkle and their middle school experience has some startling similarities to my own.

It’s a bit weird to think about being nostalgic for the early 2000’s, but there are 18-year-olds who don’t remember the turn of the century. It’s time for a young comedy to tackle that era and these two women have been the minds to do it.

The perils of AOL and AIM for young kids who really didn’t understand the internet? Having a home phone that was actually connected to a wall? And oh, the late 90s music that’s enough to through anyone back to their middle school dances.

2. Tackles big issues

Erkine and Konkle created a comedy that delves beyond the surface level of humor. Sure, the show is funny, but by the end of the second season, the writers really hung their hat on tension and drama between the two friends on screen.

The show looked at racism, puberty, divorce and the strain kids can feel on their friendships. PEN15 looked at how lonely and upset young teens can be when they think they don’t have anyone to confide in. No emotion is written off as “childish.”

It’s easy to look at the relationship problems of a child and scoff. PEN15 instead acknowledges and embraces that, in the world of these characters, this is all that matters. And that’s a valid feeling.

3. Honest portrayal of middle school girls

This is still a world where there are too few shows led by women in general, let alone shows highlighting what girls go through in middle school. PEN15 feels more honest than many shows because of its willingness to just let kids be awful.

It’s not trying to create a neat story where every jerky kid learns their lesson. Instead, it focusses on how Anna and Maya deal with anything bad that happens to/around them and admits that they don’t always react the right way. PEN15 highlights the ebbs and flows of their friendship.

NPR’s Linda Holmes even said that “by the end of ten episodes, the show has offered a portrait of adolescence in girls that is very funny, but also might be as tender as anything since My So-Called Life.”

It’s a simple shift, but it keeps the show from feeling like an after school special and makes PEN15 stand out.

New to Hulu: PEN15 Season 1 review. dark. Next

Final thoughts

This show grew exponentially by the end of its first season. It really seemed to find its voice and tone in the second half. Their second season should be added to your list of must watch programs.

What are you most looking forward to in the next season of PEN15? Let us know in the comments.