PEN15 creators Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine on playing the middle school versions of themselves on TV
Middle school can be a nightmare.
For many, the memories of school lunch and braces, unrequited crushes and bullies can be enough to throw even the most serene person into a fit of hysteria.
Enter Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle.
They’re the creators and stars of the coming of age television comedy PEN15. It’s set in a slightly fictionalized version of the early aughts where the pair play the young teen versions of themselves.
They deal with all the joy and horror that goes along with being not quite a kid but definitely not an adult yet. Topics like getting your period for the first time, liking a classmate who doesn’t like you back and juggling school and a stressful homelife. The show is at times very absurd while being grounded in a level of authenticity that never takes away from just how funny the show is.
Real-life best friends Maya and Anna join us to talk about what it’s like playing 13 year old versions of themselves, embracing the horrors of their shared middle school experiences and working with Maya’s real-life mom. Plus, we’ll chat about casting Al from Home Improvement to play Maya’s father. All that and more on the next Bullseye!
Season 2 of PEN15 premieres next week on Hulu.
This interview originally aired in March of 2019.
In this episode...
- Maya Erskine
- Anna Konkle
About the show
Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.
Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.
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