It is the year 2000. You run your teeth over your braces and pull a polo shirt over your long-sleeve t-shirt, then pull up your flare jeans and fasten your studded belt. You shake out your recently Herbal-Essences-washed hair and put it in a low pony, carefully pulling out two strands to perfectly frame your face. You tweeze your eyebrows into oblivion until they are pencil-thin and make you look perpetually surprised. You are officially ready for your first day of seventh grade.
If this sounds remotely like you when you were a preteen, then Hulu's new show, Pen15, is literally made for you. It is a heartwarming, cringe-worthy, way-too-real account of two awkward girls simply trying to survive middle school in the early 2000s, and it is way too perfect. Like, I had to stop watching after three episodes because it was too real and it was bringing up lots of memories and making me super uncomfortable. Pen15 really is the best.
The show's brilliant creators, Maya Erskine, and Anna Konkle are also its stars.Yes, they are full-grown women in their early 30s playing middle schoolers. And it totally works.
Because not only are they best friends in the show, but they are also best friends in real life.Maya and Anna play... Maya and Anna, the seventh-grade versions of themselves. They are best friends and awkward nerdy members of their grade just trying to navigate seventh grade without totally ruining their lives.
Pen15 is ultra brilliant because all the other actors in the show are actual middle schoolers.It makes the show that much more hilarious, and it serves to heighten the awkwardness that Maya and Anna feel and cause.
From unrequited crushes to embarrassing displays at school band concerts, the show gets middle school completely right.Like, to an accurate, cringe-worthy degree. It's actually hard to watch sometimes.
But it is 100 percent the show every former middle school girl needs right now.
I can't stop watching PEN15 on hulu rn. I feel so seen.— Akilah Hughes (@Akilah Hughes)1550031601.0
Pen15 will definitely make you relive middle school...
The show PEN15 is hilarious and I highly recommend it to any girl who wants to relive the horrors of middle school— lindsay k (@lindsay k)1549660007.0
Did you ever, for example, cut your own hair?
I'm screaming https://t.co/O583K3XkjA— Gretchen 🌻 (@Gretchen 🌻)1549659325.0
Or did you spend hours toiling away on AIM?
This AIM episode of #PEN15 is excellent https://t.co/BkklyWMgyA— Dr. Stefania Solidgold (@Dr. Stefania Solidgold)1549944351.0
Then this show is for you.
Braces, passing notes, AOL, bffs, grand plans, crushes... So many memories! #PEN15— Michaela Connelly (@Michaela Connelly)1549837826.0
It's super funny, yes, but it is also really real.
Pen15 is already the funniest show I've ever seen. Being a middleschooler in the early 2000s- amazing.— .𝓳𝓾𝓲𝓬𝔂 𝓳𝓾𝓰𝓼 (@.𝓳𝓾𝓲𝓬𝔂 𝓳𝓾𝓰𝓼)1549608209.0
Some of the things Maya and Anna say literally came out of my mouth verbatim years and years ago.
"I'm not really allowed to let people borrow my clothes" is a real ass sentence that was said to me in 7th grade wh… https://t.co/FQFVo5rbzc— The Marshest Mellow (@The Marshest Mellow)1549733041.0
It's a total hit.I could tell that I was going to fall in love with it in the first two minutes.
There are seriously some moments and scenes from the show that will be burned into my memory forever.
Great moments in television history #PEN15 https://t.co/N7c4XiYHpq— Cameron Williams (@Cameron Williams)1549841686.0
Pen15 has so many wondering if Maya and Anna went into their personal histories.
I'm pretty sure #PEN15 is just someone sharing surveillance footage of my 7th grade experience.— Dea Lunae (@Dea Lunae)1549992266.0
And until now, I haven't seen myself like this on screen.
TV critic @carolineframke writes that #Pen15 feels like "watching a show entirely about the “freaks” from “Freaks a… https://t.co/udRDNzVukk— Variety (@Variety)1549677600.0
While adult women who grew up in the '90s and 2000s are the target audience for Pen15, we're not the only audience who connects with the show.
This tweet is an official endorsement of PEN15, which I loved + my 13-year-old daughter claimed that the show's "mi… https://t.co/lq2k3YDKOv— David Fear (@David Fear)1549754433.0
Everything about the show is super nostalgic.
If you’re in your late 20s or early 30s you have to watch the show “Pen15”, its the most accurate middle school rep… https://t.co/tHlVNfVNWr— ∂ємι-ѕυє💫 (@∂ємι-ѕυє💫)1549678034.0
Still not convinced?
Take a break from whatever show you've been watching and watch PEN15 on Hulu. It is beautiful and perfect, especial… https://t.co/aUmcPzHrL8— Veronica de Souza (@Veronica de Souza)1549902623.0
I feel seen.Notice that there are three "weirds" in that tweet. It's true. But being a middle schooler is weird. The weird is real.
This show also inspired people to share their own middle school pictures.
Loving @pen15show! Probably because I was the black Maya when I was in middle school. Bowl cuts unite! #PEN15 https://t.co/i4VDe3huw4— Ro (@Ro)1549781941.0
This girl totally would have been friends with Anna in middle school.
My Pen15 ghetto glamour shot. Fan a flowing. #PEN15 https://t.co/ErGBiersdf— Kait Malynn (@Kait Malynn)1549724723.0
Oh man, the strands of hair down the sides of our faces...I did it. We all did it! Why did we think that was a good idea! It was not a good idea!
Boys were not immune from the awkward preteen years either.
This is my #Pen15 https://t.co/4dcm9N63dk— Mark Valdez (@Mark Valdez)1550035055.0
Basically, run, don't walk, to watch Pen15.Everything about the show, the scripts, the acting, the branded t-shirts, will dredge up lots of memories.
Sure, it will be traumatizing.
HULU sent me an email about a series called PEN15 and it gave me PTSD from that time in 7th grade when i wrote PEN1… https://t.co/bii6u2Uw9U— Rachelle Weber (@Rachelle Weber)1549668882.0
There is one unintended side effect of the show:
PEN15 keeps introducing sad/desperate middle school side characters and I am going to spend the rest of my life worried about them.— Jackson McHenry (@Jackson McHenry)1549919013.0
Here's a pretty solid endorsement of the show:
I highly recommend watching #Pen15 on Hulu. It’s hysterical and wonderful.— Seth Rogen (@Seth Rogen)1549938899.0