Listen up, fools. PEN15 is returning to Hulu, but true to its pubescent characters, it’s going to have changed a lot since the last time we saw it. Per Vanity Fair, the beloved cringe comedy is getting the animated treatment in a one-off animated special before the series returns with the second half of Season 2.
Titled “Jacuzzi,” the special follows Maya and Anna on a low-budget family trip to Florida. As ever, the subject material is drawn directly from the adolescences of creators Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, and Sam Zvibleman. “I grew up going to Fort Lauderdale, where my grandparents lived in a retirement facility,” Konkle recalled. “I was excited to go, but then I would get there and remember, Okay, Anna, you’re sleeping on a mattress in the sunroom. So you’re going to wake up in a pool of sweat on rubber. And you will not see a person your age for a week, and if someone agrees to play cards with you, you’re lucky.”
Initially concieved as a live action episode, plans were adjusted when lockdowns made filming impossible. “We had the choice when COVID happened: Should we try to wait and do this when things open up, or should we get this out sooner and just do it animated,” Konkle explained. “We needed to be passionate about it being animated to do it; it couldn’t just be like second fiddle to the ideal. So we started digging in creatively.”
The decision to animate the episode also opened up new possibilities for the types of exaggerated, fantastical elements that have made for some of the show’s most memorable visual gags. Even so, scrapping the planned prostetics and camera tricks was a difficult moment for Konkle. “We had all these amazing digital pictures made of what we were going to look like. It was killing me, I was so excited.” Ultimately, the creators worked with an animator in Ireland to match their warts-and-all vision. “It feels more true to the minutiae of everyday life, kind of dirty and alternative,” Konkle said.
The news comes as buzz is still building over Season 2, the first half of which released in September of last year. The Season 2 episode, “Play,” is an Emmy contender for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, the second time the series has been nominated in that category. Hulu has not yet announced when it will release the second half of the season, but the new special should help tide fans over until then.
PEN15‘s “Jacuzzi” special premieres Friday, August 27, on Hulu.
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