Hulu’s ‘PEN15’ is meant to create a ripple, as anyone with a remotely dirty mind can figure out. It was meant to be controversial, as is the case with any show that openly talks about the sexual awakening of teenagers. However, the backlash it is receiving is not only unexpected, but uncalled for.
Described as a show that depicts middle school “as it really happened,” the Hulu comedy is the brainchild of Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, who both play 13-year-old versions of themselves, growing up in the 2000s. Maya and Anna are social outcasts as they find the small joys of being teenagers with each other and with their own bodies. They want to make the most of their high school experience, but are unable to get out of the rut, and look for different ways to fit in and make their teenage years memorable.
Haters online have been going after the makers of the show, Hulu and the cast, for creating “pedophilic content.” From the trailer alone, the various arguments made to support this claim can be disputed and that is exactly what we plan to do.
Why allow a show like this to air? It's basically child porn trying to come off as "adult humor". No.— ZT (@ZTragon) January 24, 2019
If this claim is made based on the dry-humping and fake make-out scenes from the trailer - because, of course, the series is not out until Friday, February 8 - the only people are adults. Both the leading actresses are, actually, well above 18, and the actors who play their parents are, of course, adults. There is no reason this could be perceived as child porn.
Really! Watching 13 year old girls mastrubate?!? This is wrong and a pedophiles dream come true but you perves have at it.— Amy Raz (@AmyRoeser) January 25, 2019
None of the fellow school-goers - who are actual teenagers - are present in the sexualized scenes as far as we know, except for one seeming recreation of the popular game "Seven minutes in heaven". Even there, it looks like two nervous teenagers are contemplating kissing, no actual kissing is shown in the trailer, and I would assume Hulu and the showmakers are smart enough not to have an adult kiss a minor on 'PEN15.'
"So super 'MeToo' Hollywood thinks a show with 30 year old women crushing on 13 year old boys is appropriate?", asked a user on YouTube. Again, no! It would be absolutely wrong for 30-year-old women to lust after teenage boys. In this show, however, it is the 13-year-old girls that are crushing after their classmates.
They are all actors - including the students - who have all been handed out scripts, which specify how the characters are attracted to each other, which, in turn, also nullifies certain messages which suggest that the show is promoting pedophilia. Regardless, I want to reiterate these 30-year-old women aren't attracted to 13-year-old boys, if they were, it could absolutely be branded pedophilia.
Looks awful. Imagine grown men talking to teenage girls about masturbating. Pretty fucking regressive. But when female stars sexually assault kids they get an easier wrap (See: Asia Argento) So I guess they can get away with it?— Collin S. (@StinkyScrub) January 24, 2019
There are others who criticize the non-fact that 40-year-old men have written a show about teenage girls, and their sexuality. Of course, this is in reference to fact that The Lonely Island - featuring Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer - is producing the show.
However, the trio actually had nothing to do with the ideation, creation or development of the core story narrated in 'PEN15.' Despite The Lonely Island having invested in the project, this is the brainchild of Anna and Maya, who have both been teenage girls, and have written about their middle school experiences.
This brings us to the next point, teenage boys reaching sexual realization and exploration has been showcased by Hollywood time and again. In fact, some of the films have become cult classics like 'Superbad', and the 'American Pie' series, for example.
However, the double standards and hypocrisy became disturbingly transparent, when the tables were turned. Why is the sexuality of girls considered a taboo, especially in the context of comedy, when we have no issues laughing at the hilarious sexual pursuits of boys who are of the same age, or even younger? Maybe, it is time we take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror, before hate-commenting on this Hulu show, especially before even watching it.