We’ll say that we manifested this, because a little less than one year ago, we did. Cringe comedy series PEN15, starring Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine, will air an animated special for those missing the over-the-top yet delightful antics of Maya and Anna.
According to the log line, the special will join the girls on their classic 2000s summer vacation to Florida:
“On vacation with Curtis, Anna and Maya are introduced to new crippling insecurities. The girls try to ignore them, but a mystical turn makes their self-doubt impossible to forget.”
Of course, because nothing’s more stress-inducing for a middle school girl than trying to have fun in a new environment, surrounded by new people— all while predominately wearing a swimsuit.
“The basic premise was going on vacation in Florida, and it never really being what you thought it was going to be,” Konkle tells Vanity Fair. “For me, it was staying at these economical—whatever my parents would call them—hotels and waiting for the fun to start and being like… it’s never going to start.”
The episode, titled “Jacuzzi” will pick up right where the mid-season finale left off last year. According to Vanity Fair, the original intention was to air a standalone, 40-minute-long special that would integrate prosthetics and different camera tricks to capture the girls “surreal Sunshine State experience.” However, once the pandemic hit a new plan was set in motion.
“We got really excited about prosthetics. Before COVID, we were on the track. We were getting fitted for prosthetics; we had all these amazing digital pictures made of what we were going to look like. It was killing me, I was so excited,” Konkle says. “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? 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.”
As with every episode of PEN15, the animated special is based off Konkle and Erkine’s painfully real and awkward experiences as tweens. This time, the story is straight from the pages of Konkle’s less-than-dreamy family vacations.
“I grew up going to Fort Lauderdale, where my grandparents lived in a retirement facility,” Konkle says. “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.”
The animated special for PEN15 airs August 27 on Hulu.