Hulu's 'Pen15' Depicts the Dramatic 'Highs and Lows' of Middle School

John Russell
Preview Alex Lombardi/Hulu

Middle school was rough for Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, the creators and stars of Pen15 (pronounced “pen-fifteen”).

That’s why they named their Hulu comedy about those early teen years after an adolescent prank. “Someone cooler than me would be like, ‘Want to join my club? All you have to do is write PEN15 on your hand,’” explains Konkle. “For the rest of the day, you feel like a joke.”

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On the show, real-life best friends Erskine and Konkle play versions of the awkward 13-year-olds they once were as they enter the seventh grade hoping to finally crack the glass ceiling of popularity. “It’s almost operatic. It’s such a dramatic time of highs and lows and firsts,” says Erskine.

And while the stars are actually in their early 30s, they cast real 13-year-olds to play their classmates. Says Konkle: “There is something just viscerally funny to us about me and Maya playing rejects surrounded by kids who are supposed to be cooler than us.”

Pen15, Series Premiere, Friday, Feb. 8, Hulu