Reliving Adolescent Awkwardness
Hulu is a treasure trove of bingeable original content. At the top of my list is the super-relatable comedy Pen15. Many moons ago I, too, was an awkward teenager with a best friend who accompanied me during the traumatic and sometimes hilarious navigation of the landmine known as middle and high school.
I love being a Millennial. We get such a bad rap, but one episode of Pen15 gives a glimpse into how we were shaped into people with brilliant, anxious minds.
Maya and Anna were brilliant at their depictions of tweens who dealt with bullying, racist situations, parental misunderstanding, and boundary exploration with boys and masturbation. The braces…my GOD, the braces! The frizzy hair, the spark of hormones and the underdeveloped prefrontal cortex that resulted in making bad decisions while erroneously believing we knew everything there was to know about life. Pen15 took me back and I’m so glad – I’d never looked fondly upon my adolescence before. Everything was so traumatic back then and I’m so grateful that enough time has passed since it all went down that some romanticizing of all the messiness now feels right.
Reliving my own tween years through binge-watching Pen15 unexpectedly helped me sort through trauma that had been buried deep below the surface. I was a tween when:
- My parents got divorced.
- I experienced my first family death.
- An awful secret about my life came to the surface.
- I learned the heartbreak of losing my best friend.
- Racism reared its ugly head for the first time in my life.
- I lived with an eating disorder into my 20s.
- The same week I discovered ahem, myself, I stayed home that entire weekend because I didn’t know what else to do with myself.
- Anxiety was a constant factor in my life and I had no idea what it was or why I was experiencing it.
Pen15 hilariously touched upon most of these in a palatable way, and it actually made me miss having my teenage best friend. I hope Season 2 is in the works, because I’m not ready to stop reliving my tween years.
Funny (and true!) story: my middle school bestie’s cousin is my husband, so she is now my cousin. How’s that for an unexpected plot twist? There’s no way that Anna and Maya aren’t real-life friends, but I doubt that their friendship was rooted in an adolescent friendship – those fade away more often than not. This 10-episode walk down memory lane serves as a call to nostalgia and finding joy in the little, basic moments that seem so far away in adulthood. Like, I just remembered this one time when my BFF and I were prank calling people (by hitting *67 before dialing) and she totally forgot to hit *67 before calling a random number then asking,
Did you remember to feed your pussy today?Of course she meant her cat.
And the lady called us back, threatening to call the police. We never prank called anyone again. I don’t remember having as much fun with anyone as I had with my tween BFF. I’m grateful for the lessons and memories. Watch Pen15 on Hulu. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love it.