Hulu’s new Original Series, PEN15

Welcome to the world of dial up modems, butterfly mini-clips, and an era when a burning a mix CD was the sign of true love—middle school, circa 2000. Who wants to relive the struggles of seventh grade? Well, taking one for the team are Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, who go back to all the cringe-worthy experiences of being 13 in the new Hulu Originals comedy series, PEN15, which debuts its first 10-episode season on the streaming service on February 8.

PEN15 is tagged as “middle school as it really happened,” and from the teasers, it doesn’t shy away from any of the embarrassing moments that made adolescence a struggle. From burgeoning sexuality and early romantic encounters to the challenges of changing friendships and being an outcast on the social spectrum, PEN15 tackles each awkward bump on the road to maturity.

The adult comedy series was co-created and written by real-life best friends Maya Erskine (Casual, Insecure) and Anna Konkle (Rosewood, Maron), along with Sam Zvibleman (The Neddeaus of Duqesne Island, Take My Wife), who also directs several episodes.

Erskine and Konkle play 13-year-old versions of themselves, best friends trying to stick together through the frustrations of middle school. One of the clever elements of the show is plunging the stars in amongst a cast of actual 13-year-olds.

While the real-life age difference does somewhat add to the comedy, the two actors manage to capture with convincing earnestness the posture and intonations of young women uncomfortable in their changing bodies. In every clip Erskine and Konkle sell the roles, and there are high hopes that they will be able to maintain that sincerity across the full season.

Produced in part by the Lonely Island comedy team of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, as well as Party Over Here, Odenkirk Provissiero, and AwesomenessTV, the series looks to walk the line between raunchy comedy and a sincere look at the challenges of growing up. Perhaps a little less earnest than last year’s hit film, Eighth Grade, Hulu’s new series still looks to find authenticity in the experiences of youth.

How to watch PEN15 on Hulu

PEN15 is one of a continually growing list of programs by Hulu Originals. As such, it will (at least initially) only be available on Hulu when the season debuts on February 8.

However, it is easy to sign up, and with the bevy of new programming, not to mention options for viewing other series from network TV, Hulu has a lot to offer.

For new subscribers, Hulu offers a free trial month, and then has several different monthly plans to choose from, including:

  • $5.99/month with limited commercials
  • $11.99/month commercial free
  • $44.99/month commercial free + live TV of up to 50 channels, as well as on-demand feature.

Hulu can be watched through online, as well as apps for Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, Xbox, and mobile devices.

Interested in more information? Check out our recent review of Hulu, which does a deep dive into all the aspects of Hulu’s subscription options, as well as the many add-on channels to increase usage.

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Heather C. Jackson: Heather C. Jackson is a freelance writer, editor, costume designer, and self-proclaimed television junkie located in Baltimore. Her writing work includes copywriting and editing art books, play scripts, and academic work; time as an editor, communications specialist, and publicist in regional theatre; and several years as a home and lifestyle writer and editor.
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