‘Pen15‘ is a comedy-drama that first premiered on February 8, 2019, on Hulu. The show is created by Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, and Sam Zvibleman and also stars Erskine and Konkle in the lead roles. The show features Maya (Maya Erskine) and Anna (Anna Konkle) in highschool set in 2000. They play the fictionalized version of themselves in the seventh grade along with real 13-year-old actors.
Anna and Erskine are best friends in real life and their friendship goes long back to their childhood. The original intention behind ‘Pen15’ was to re-live the secrets, mistakes, and hardships that they faced and many are still facing, in that age group. The show confronts topics that a typical 13-year-old would be scared of talking about, like the first kiss, first menstrual experience, the first experience of physical exploration, bullying, divorce, racism, and so on.
“We had a conversation about what’s the most reject-y, awkward, funny, sad, messed-up time, and it kept coming back to middle school,” Konkle said. The viewers loved the first season and I personally cannot wait for season 2. Though meanwhile, you can check out more shows like ‘Pen15’. Some of them are on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
7. Dollface (2019-)
‘Dollface‘ is an American comedy series that first premiered on November 15, 2019, on Hulu. The show is created by Jordan Weiss and stars Kat Dennings as Jules Wiley in the lead role. Jules has just broken up with her boyfriend after half a decade and she now is struck with the reality that she has no friends left.
While struggling to make friends with her own gender, she also creates fictional scenarios that are completely bizarre and out of the world. The show might not be about a typical 13-year-old but it definitely talks about the insecurities a girl faces while entering any new relationship.
6. Awkward (2011-2016)
‘Awkward’ is a comedy teen drama that first premiered on July 19, 2011, on MTV. The show is created by Lauren Lungerich and stars Ashley Rickards as Jenna Hamilton in the lead role. Jenna is a social outcast and struggles as a teenager to blend in the fast-paced life of high-school.
She meets with an accident but people take it as her attempt to commit suicide. She takes this as an opportunity to start her own blog where she talks about different issues like boys, bullying, peer pressure. The show portrays the realistic struggles of a teenage outcast in a modern-day world and methods to overcome them.
5. Stranger Things (2016-)
Yes, ‘Stranger Things‘ is a science-fiction drama. It first premiered on July 15, 2016, on Netflix and stars Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven, Finn as Mike, Gaten as Dustin, Caleb as Lucas, Noah as Will and many more. The show primarily features El and her friends fighting Demogorgons from the alternate universe but also follows the dynamics of changing relationships between children hitting puberty.
They are exploring their first relationship, love, break-up, crush, kiss and a lot more. In ‘Pen15’, Anna and Maya are made fun of, for playing with dolls whereas in ‘Stranger Things’ the boys are found playing board games initially but later lose interests because of girls. If you look beyond the sci-fi aspect, there are many other dimensions in the show that truly captures the essence of puberty and personal teenage struggles.
Read More: Shows Like Dollface
4. Everything Sucks! (2018)
While ‘Pen15’ is set in the era of 2000, ‘Everything Sucks!‘ is all about the ’90s. The show is created by Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan and follows a group of social outcasts studying at the Boring High School. The characters are in the A/V and drama group and are considered as misfits by their school mates.
Luke, McQuaid, and Tyler are the new kids in the school. Luke starts liking Kate, daughter of the school’s principal whereas Kate is struggling with her sexual identity. Kate starts dating him to avoid rumors of her being gay and Luke deals with the tapes his father left for him before leaving his mother.
Together, the group decides to make a movie and starts working on it. The show is about exploring sexual orientations, understanding the societal norms, coming to terms with their own identities, relationships, friendships and a lot more.
3. Girls (2012-2017)
Imagine Maya and Anna all grown up… I mean grown up in the show. If they were not 13 anymore, they might be leading the lives of the characters shown in ‘Girls’. It is a comedy-drama that first premiered on April 15, 2012, on HBO.
The show is about Hannah and her friends who are struggling through the transition of turning into adults from teenagers. Hannah aspires to be a writer but does not write, she wants to have money but does not wish to work. She wants a boyfriend but wants nothing to do with the dramas of a relationship. The show is basically fighting your insecurities, accepting your own flaws and accepting the harsh truth of life – that it never stops.
2. Sex Education (2019-)
‘Sex Education‘ is a teenage comedy that first premiered on January 11, 2019, on Netflix. One of the biggest issues that teenagers face and hesitate to talk about is related to sex and their changing bodies. The show addresses those concerns in the most entertaining way. Otis is an awkward teenager, who is totally ambivalent about sex as his mother is a sex therapist. He, along with Maeve starts his own sex therapy group in school. The therapy helps a lot of people to come out in the open about their sexual orientations and accept their realities without any awkwardness.
1. Big Mouth (2017-)
‘Big Mouth’ is an adult animated sitcom that first premiered on September 29, 2019, on Netflix. The show follows a bunch of seventh graders, both males, and females, who are dealing with the struggles of hitting puberty. From ‘self-satisfaction’ to hormonal changes, relationship shifts and turns and a lot more alien feelings that 13 years olds generally go through, are beautifully depicted in the show. The show is the closest match to ‘Pen15’ and if you have not watched it yet, I suggest you start streaming it immediately.
Read More: Shows Like Stranger Things