Our foolish, naive and socially inexperienced teenagers return and the second instalment heightens the traumedy that we already loved.
This review of Hulu’s PEN15 season 2 contains zero spoilers. The comedy series will be released on the streaming service on September 18, 2020. Please note that this review is based on part 1 of season 2. Part 2 will be released later by Hulu.
We recapped every episode — check out the archive.
PEN15 could have gone one of two ways — hailed as an addictive teen traumedy or landed like a big fat Hulu dud. I was surprised by its success — while I enjoyed Season 1, I was not expecting the fan base to push through aggressively enough to justify a continuation. A continuation was approved and thank the lord it was because Part 1 of Season 2 is another gem of teenage tragedies that are painfully hilarious.
PEN15 Season 2 jumps right back in following on from the promiscuous school dance. Anna and Maya are armed with experience in season 2, however, they are still struggling to get to grips with the social dynamics before them. The Hulu series continues to compound them with cringing embarrassing moments that make audiences want to turn their heads. From hard rejections to first periods — PEN15 has it all.
We are often used to teenage dramas that platform this feel-good summer of romance and heightened problems but PEN15 continues to get away with misplaced realism. It basks in the fact that our younger years were likely closer to these two lead characters than those we are often used to seeing in series like 13 Reasons Why. That is a harsh comparison but we are accustomed to the generic feel that often graces our TV screens. This Hulu series may be a caricature of many teens’ former lives, but at least there’s an edge of truth to it.
And with a successful season 2, PEN15 argues its longevity — of course, the leading actors may not want to lower themselves to young, dumb teens forever — or maybe, just maybe, Hulu brings these two engageable, goofy characters to college for audiences to continue to enjoy. This is, of course, resoundingly optimistic but it will be curious to see where Season 2 ends for these characters. It’s themes and directorial approach may run out of juice for a third season.
For now though, PEN15 season 2 gets a big thumbs up. Our foolish, naive and socially inexperienced teenagers return and the second instalment heightens the traumedy that we already loved.