A middle school summer vacation has, strangely enough, never looked more real than in the trailer for PEN15‘s upcoming animated special. The special, titled “Jacuzzi,” follows the girls as they embark on a Florida vacation with Anna’s dad Curtis. While the pair start off with confidence and great expectations for their hot, summer getaway, a caricature artist quickly shatters the middle schooler’s confidence and hopes — and Anna’s “overbearing” father doesn’t help too much, either.
Star and co-creator Anna Konkle announced the upcoming special in an exclusive interview with Vanity Fair earlier this year, where she revealed it was largely based off her own experiences. According to Konkle (who also plays Anna in the show), the special meant to portray how vacations at 13 are “never really […] what you thought it was going to be.” Konkle also addressed the show’s pivot to animation for the special was, explaining while it was partially a side effect of the ongoing pandemic, the choice also allowed them more creative freedom. While the special was originally supposed to use prosthetics to convey the girl’s shifting self-image, animation allowed them to do so without quite as much of a hassle, stay true to the camcorder-style in which they wanted to “film” it, and ultimately felt “more true to the minutiae of everyday life, kind of dirty and alternative.”
For those unfamiliar with the playfully named PEN15, the show is a crude, R-rated “traumedy” set in middle school “as it really happened in the year 2000.” From AIM exchanges and first kisses, to coping through parent’s divorces and hormones, the series provides an arguably too real look at life for 13-year-old girls at the turn of the century. Both starring and written by co-creators Konkle and Maya Erskine — alongside fellow writer Sam Zvibleman, whom a character on the show is named after — PEN15 is part collective autobiography and all laughs.
The PEN15 animated special hits Hulu on August 27, and here’s hoping the third season follows shortly after.