Closeted

How ‘PEN15’ Nailed the Heartbreaking Experience of the Closeted Y2K Middle-Schooler

There’s something that happens when watching PEN15, especially if you are a millennial, especially if you were 13 years old in the year 2000, especially if you can recite with perfect inflection the spoken-word monologue in Mandy Moore’s “Candy.”

You look at stars, creators, and writers Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle playing a game of M.A.S.H. while gossiping over their see-through landline phones. You take in the constellations of orthodontia at their class pool party, akin to reading a dental star chart. You cringe as they call each other “slut bags,” as if they have any idea what the insult means. You suffer PTSD as they gyrate in their childhood bedrooms to sexually explicit hip-hop songs, cry along as their hearts shatter under the emotional anvils of rejection or bullying or both, and you think… that was me.

In the series, which launched its second season on Hulu

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