Get Up On This With Jensen Karp: PEN15 – A HULU Original

Every Thursday morning Jensen Karp gets us up on something new

March 14, 2019

Every Thursday morning Jensen Karp brings our attention to something that we may not know about yet or something we may have overlooked in the past.

Now it's time to "Get Up On This."

This week Jensen introduces us to PEN15, a HULU Original created by comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle. The two actresses play teenage versions of themselves surviving a realistic, but humorous, portrayal of Middle School. Erskine and Konkle met while studying Theater at NYU and have been best friends ever since. The show is based on secrets that they have shared with each other from their teenage years. Though there is a lot of fart jokes, they also deal with heavy topics such as divorce, puberty, racism, and bullying. The show gets a little intense, but the fact that they can also make you laugh uncontrollably is what makes it so unique.

It’s a little like Bo Burnham’s recent Eighth Grade mixed with a bit of Strangers with Candy, but the element that makes PEN15 so good, and at times off-putting, is that the two stars play 13-year-old Middle School students, but they are actually 31. They are surrounded by real 13-year-old actors, but they are clearly older. They’re dressed down with make-up that makes them look slightly younger while wearing retainers and braces, but it’s no secret to the show. It’s set in the year 2000 and from the Bikini Kill theme song to the Coyote Ugly references, you’ll know it.

PEN15 is funny, touching and painfully awkward. They are able to find humor in some of the worst situations that we all found ourselves in during puberty, done in such a smart way. So well done in fact Jensen felt, “There are times when I don’t know whether to laugh uncontrollably or feel pain for myself because I remember being in that moment… I found myself laughing at this more than anything else I’ve seen all year.” He also believes you’ll be seeing Erskine and Konkle a lot more soon, as they have the talent to be “the next Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.”

The first season, just released in February, it is 10 episodes and you can binge it now on HULU.