In Hulu’s Pen15, real-life BFFs Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play 13-year-old versions of themselves at the turn of the 21st century. Amidst the Y2K era of AOL Instant Messenger chatting, gel pens and Tamagotchi keychains, the TV versions of Maya and Anna must navigate one of the most awkward and painful moments of one’s life: adolescence.
Even though we have seen the pair of friends go through the hormonal, landmine-filled field that is puberty, there is a great amount of heart that Erskine and Konkle bring to the table when it comes to the comedy they created with Sam Zvibleman. For the duo, revisiting these formative times in their lives — while acting alongside real-life 13-year-olds — has been quite a journey.
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“Season 1 we were shocked by the moments where we felt the pain so viscerally — that was surprising for us,” said Erskine, who was joined by Konkle during the show’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders Television awards-season event. She added that they would cry on set re-enacting scenes that happened during their childhood, “[because] in our minds, they were funny scenes, but it would transform the show slowly as we were doing it,” Erskine added.
For the sophomore season the pair were prepared for those emotions, and Erskine said they went a little darker — but she and Konkle still had a lot of fun. “I laughed every single day with her because I think in the first season there was so much pressure and we treated it like ‘this is probably the only season we will ever have’,” Erskine admitted.
She continued, “We didn’t get to sit in the pleasure of being 13 again.”
“I think there is something about being able to go back there and be super positive and näive — there’s something fun and refreshing about going there,” Konkle chimed in.
Even so, Konkle recognized that reliving these traumatic moments of being 13 can be difficult. “I feel like 10 years from now we’ll be like, ‘Was that therapy or or was that pure masochism?’ ” she said.
Check back Monday for the panel video.
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