Streaming

Why PEN15 Is Ending After Only Two Seasons

The final episodes of the cringe comedy series will air Dec. 3.

Anna Kone (Anna Konkle) and Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine) in Season 2 Episode 6 of PEN15
Lara Solanki/Hulu

After just two seasons, Hulu’s PEN15 is coming to an end. A Hulu representative confirmed to Variety that Season 2 — which airs its final batch of episodes on Dec. 3 — will now mark the conclusion of the show. “[Series creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle] feel the story they wanted to tell has come to an end,” the representative said. “Hulu will continue to leave the door open for more PEN15 in the future and look forward to working with [Erskine and Konkle] again.”

The clever, endearing, and at times unbearably cringey show stars Erskine and Konkle as 13-year-old versions of themselves navigating the awkwardness and angst of adolescence. The rest of the characters are played by actual child actors — a choice that helps to accentuate how out of place Erskine and Konkle’s characters feel. Throughout its run, the semi-autobiographical comedy earned widespread praise as well as an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series. The announcement of its ending comes as a surprise, but fans will hopefully be comforted in knowing it’s how Erskine and Konkle saw things from the beginning, and that the choice was theirs.

In an interview with The New Yorker published in late November, the pair said that they always planned for Season 3 (which has now become Season 2, Part 2) to be the show’s last and that COVID-19 related delays and difficulties only confirmed their decision. Besides, the audience was never meant to see Maya and Anna make it to eighth grade. “The conceit of the show was that they think they’re in seventh grade forever,” Erskine told the New Yorker. “It is this extreme microscope. It’s, you know, interminable Hell.”

Hulu

As Erskine and Konkle told Bustle in a 2019 interview, many of PEN15’s most awkward and true-to-life moments are mined from their own lives, including Konkle’s parents’ divorce and Erskine’s discovery of masturbation. “We’re definitely not just making jokes out of [puberty],” Erskine said at the time. “We’re trying to recreate this in a way that’s like a memory. We’re just trying to aim for the truth of the situation and sometimes exaggerating moments that made us laugh.”

It’s been nearly a decade since the two started working on the show that became PEN15, and sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the stars were just ready to take a break. They also both recently welcomed their first children: Konkle had a daughter, Essie Wunderle Anfanger, in early 2021, while Erskine had a son, Leon Frederick, in May.

That doesn’t mean Maya and Anna’s story is over for good, as other sources said that Hulu is definitely interested in doing additional seasons of PEN15 if Erskine and Konkle ever decide they want to revisit the story. But for now, it’s time to leave the pubescent discomfort of middle school behind and return to the regular discomfort of adulthood.