Like us in Wordshelf, you might be a 90s kid that hit adolescence in early 2000s. And if you watch PEN15, a Hulu original series that some people call ‘the best series of 2019 yet’, you’ll feel like you’re there again.
Even if the setting of the series takes place way over in the United States.
It tells the story of the coming of age of two 13-year olds, Maya and Anna, played by the real-life 31-year olds Maya and Anna. Creepy? At first. But as you go along, you barely feel uncomfortable again because 1) they play the roles of teenagers brilliantly that you forget that the wrinkles in their foreheads and eyes are abnormal for adolescents, and 2) you will feel a million times more disturbed if it HAD been played by real 13-year olds.
Imagine if you watch a real teenager act out the scenes of masturbation, menstruation, smoking, and trying out thongs on screen. Uneasy, right? But the series is genius in the way that it deals with the unspoken struggles of being uncool, outcast, loser teenage girl where they are awarded as the ugliest girl in school who happens to be Japanese, with an equally uninteresting best friend with no memorable features or dazzling good looks. But even if they had not been the unpopular ones, the series would still feel very familiar because every girl transitioning into adulthood would relate to the confusion, isolation, and excitement that are portrayed.
From the podcast reviews (almost all of them talked about it!) and Internet ones, they unanimously say that the series trigger them emotionally—for being not only nostalgic but painfully true. And let’s face it, those teenage years we went through left some scars we’re still trying to deal with, right?
And somehow, it feels very homey to once again see girls in their teen years not wearing make-up or high heels, and just being a kid.
The show tackles on various issues that are barely addressed by the parents, school, and much less by the entertainment media. From friendship to sexuality, it explores them in comedic, sometimes disturbing ways. And the comedy is hilarious, as well.
For me, who was never into Spice Girls or exploring my sexuality as much (because it’s Indonesia, duh!), the troubles we went through just to connect to the Internet made me laugh out-effin’-loud. I remember those days we chat our crushes anonymously via instant messenger and staying up all night to surf the Internet for random things. I also remember feeling left out by my closest people like Maya did, just because it’s a template phase most teens go through.
All in all, PEN15 (which if you haven’t noticed by now reads as penis) is an enjoyable, brilliant, and light-shattering series that are worth our time. If you still aren’t convinced by the brilliance of it, listen to the guys who were mind-blown from discovering how eerily similar teenage girls behave compared to teenage boys. That ought to assure you.
There are things to learn from everyone here. Definitely.