A 'Pen15' Animated Episode Is Coming To Hulu Next Month

Fans of the excellent comedy series Pen15 haven't seen a new episode of the show since last September, but Hulu announced today that the next episode is coming out very soon – and it will have a whole new look. A Pen15 animated episode is arriving late next month, and you can read all about it below.

From Live-Action to Animation

So far, every episode of the R-rated "traumedy" series Pen15 has been live-action, but an animated episode will premiere on August 27, 2021. Co-creators, writers, and producers Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle star in the show, playing versions of themselves as 13-year olds in middle school around the year 2000, while their classmates are played by actual age-appropriate teen actors. That may sound like a high-concept premise, but Erskine and Konkle's performances are so raw and the writing is so immersive that I often find myself getting lost in the story and completely forgetting about the age gaps.

The new episode is called "Jacuzzi," and is described like this: "On vacation with Curtis, Anna and Maya are introduced to new crippling insecurities. The girls try to ignore them, but a mystical turn makes their self-doubt impossible to forget." This show has a way of mining universal emotions out of very specific occurrences, so even if you managed to miss the real-life awkwardness of stepping into a jacuzzi when you were in middle school, Konkle, Erskine, and co-creator Sam Zvibleman have proven adept at being able to translate that type of experience on the small screen in devastating ways.

Konkle wrote this episode, which was directed by Dan Schimpf (Man Seeking Woman) and Alex Anfanger.

Altered State

Pen15 season 2 was always intended to be split into two parts, but "Jacuzzi," which serves as the debut episode of the second part, was originally intended to be a live-action episode. The same story was going to play out – the girls go on a somewhat depressing family vacation to Florida – but they were going to use prosthetics to heighten the surreal nature of their trip. "We got really excited about prosthetics," Konkle told Vanity Fair. "Before COVID, we were on the track. We were getting fitted for prosthetics; we had all these amazing digital pictures made of what we were going to look like. It was killing me, I was so excited."

Then the pandemic hit, and rather than wait for it to be safe to film in live-action, they opted to tackle it in a new format instead, hiring an artist in Ireland to do hand-drawn animation but keeping the same aesthetic that was originally planned: parts of the episode are framed as if it was shot on a camcorder.

There's no release date for the rest of Pen15 season 2 yet, but we expect the rest of the season to arrive before the end of this year.