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Oughta Get a Nod: Pen15 stars Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle are comedy valedictorians

Hulu’s fantastic sitcom about turn-of-the-century youth went out with a brilliant second season. Don’t overlook this short-lived teen TV wonder for this year’s Emmys.

Apologies for the delayed response, but I completely understand your enthusiasm for “Pen15” as the best TV series of 2021. Co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle truly crafted a masterpiece right from the start with their art project comedy. Portraying their fictionalized teen selves, they took their characters to new heights in the final episodes. The introduction of boyfriends for both Maya and Anna allowed the show to navigate the genuine awkwardness and fears of teenage intimacy while honoring their romantic excitement.

Pen15's final episodes reviewed

 

What set “Pen15” apart was its refusal to rely on shallow 2000s nostalgia that saturates the internet today. Erskine and Konkle skillfully blended zany comedy with a vivid portrayal of the underlying anxieties hidden beneath the hypersexualized Y2K culture. The show fearlessly ventured into dark territories, including jokes about sensitive subjects like the Holocaust, while still maintaining a consistently hilarious tone. It managed to strike a delicate balance between comedy and genuine emotion, as seen in the moving and funny depiction of an all-night cancer walk. Additionally, the season made room for a mature and melancholic romance involving Maya’s mother, played by Mutsuko Erskine, and even included an animated trip to Florida.

Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play their 13-year-old selves in Pen15 on Sky Comedy/Hulu

Both Erskine and Konkle not only delivered exceptional performances but also took on writing and directing duties for memorable episodes. It would be a true disservice if the Academy fails to recognize their outstanding work by nominating them for lead actress. Watching them onscreen together was nothing short of miraculous, as they flawlessly embodied the physicality and vulnerability of adolescence, capable of both breaking your heart and making you laugh uncontrollably.

“Pen15” undoubtedly left a lasting impact with its unique blend of comedy, nostalgia, and fearless exploration of teenage insecurities.

Pen15

Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine on ‘Pen15’. HULU

Both Erskine and Konkle not only delivered exceptional performances but also took on writing and directing duties for memorable episodes. It would be a true disservice if the Academy fails to recognize their outstanding work by nominating them for lead actress. Watching them onscreen together was nothing short of miraculous, as they flawlessly embodied the physicality and vulnerability of adolescence, capable of both breaking your heart and making you laugh uncontrollably.

“Pen15” undoubtedly left a lasting impact with its unique blend of comedy, nostalgia, and fearless exploration of teenage insecurities.

Check out more from EW’s The Awardistfeaturing exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year’s best in TV.

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