Parents' Guide to


By Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Teen girls cope with puberty in bawdy but poignant comedy.

TV Hulu Comedy 2019
PEN15 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 12+

Conversation Starter

Have been watching with my 11 yo daughter . Some of the content is mature and uncomfortable but has been a great way to talk about stuff that is sure to be on my kiddos mind. Maya and Anna make some awful mistakes about friendships and popularity and boys, and these are all learning moments. I think I’m least comfortable with the casual drug/alcohol use that isn’t too pervasive but a big red flag for middle schoolers. Appreciate the willingness to talk about girls and masturbation, as uncomfortable as some parents are with that. It’s a missing piece of sex ed that deserves affirmation. Some great material here about racism, harassment/bullying, sexuality and friendship.

This title has:

Great messages
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
3 people found this helpful.
age 14+

Raunchy, but real.

I watched this alone, after hearing about it on an NPR podcast. I had seen the movie 8th grade and was expecting something similar. And it was...but it also had more. I loved how it showed Anna and Maya’s friendship sustaining them through the new experiences and changes they went through, even though their relationship had its rocky points. I also liked how they made an effort to show the various degrees of maturity in 13 yo kids. That being said....know your own kid before letting them watch this. They packed a lot into the 1st season, sexual awakening, menstruation, 1st boyfriends, crushes, drugs, parent relationships, the popular clique...and through it all, those girls came back to their rock solid friendship. Loved it. I wish I had a friendship like that when I was 13.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
2 people found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6):
Kids say (13):

The pop culture landscape has been rife with representations of burgeoning male sexuality for ages, but until very recently, unflinching portrayals of female adolescence have been harder to come by. PEN15 is a long-overdue exploration of the struggles faced by middle school girls and does so in a way that feels relatable and real while also being side-splittingly funny. It doesn't take long to forget that the main stars are, in fact, 31-year-old women, so committed are they to the bit. Both are naturally gifted comedians, who are laugh-out-loud funny when embodying the idea that middle school is hell, every crush or conflict catastrophically important.

Yet they also ably sell the more nuanced and sincere aspects of the show, most notably during the episodes exploring Anna's parents and their marital issues, and the storyline where Maya's brother Shuji helps her address the casual cruelty of her racist classmates, who mock her for being half-Japanese. Some viewers may write the series off due to the raunchy humor, and that would be their loss. PEN15 perfectly illustrates all the goofiness and pain inherent in being a young girl fumbling toward adulthood, in that ambiguous and awkward stage between Calico Critters and Kotex maxi pads.

TV Details

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