Pen15 and the year 2000

AOL, Babyspice666, a Backstreet Boys poster pinned on the wall. Gel pens and bucket hats. Pen15 is a trip down the memory lane and the year 2000 bring back those moments that we wish we had erased from our memories.

Hey Fool! Looking great with matching bucket hats, fool!

Hey Fool! How old were you in the year 2000? I was 14/15 so I remember those days like it was yesterday. Being a huge fan of tv shows that leads the audience to a different era and shows like That’s 70 Show, The Goldbergs, and Fresh of the Boat are some good examples of what we can binge on Hulu now.

Last year my best friend suggested me Pen15, and I got immediately hooked on. I watched the entire season in 3 days and hoped for more. Wishing the show never got canceled, because it was a masterpiece, but as I said before, sometimes being an awesome tv show it’s not enough. Especially when it’s based on the year 2000 and the main characters are playing themselves as 13 years old which means, the kissing scenes between the teens never happen on the regular angle, because the other characters are younger than Maya and Anna.

Pen15 brings back the uncomfortableness of being in middle school. All the cringe moments that make you want to hide your head on the ground like an Emu, are all the moments we lived through and had to face it. In the first season, when they showed Maya being bullied and being call UGIS (ugliest girl in school) all around, I cried. I cried because I was also voted the ugliest in my class in 7th grade. The popular girls made a voting list and passed around the classroom, as they got the results, they ran to the bathroom, giggling. When they read the results and laughed, I was right there, because I thought they were my friends, so I followed them to the bathroom. At that moment, I convinced myself I was ugly, and that dictated how I behaved in the following years.

The show’s second season takes a deeper look at growing up. Anna is dealing with her parents’ separation, while still sharing the same house, and Maya is desperately trying to have her first kiss. The second season has only 7 episodes and its amazingly well written. Most os the episodes were written by Anna,Maya and Sam Zvibleman , I believe that’s all they got ready before the pandemic. While I was hoping for more episodes, it was a perfect way to end it with a cliff hanger. Will Maya ever realize that Sam likes her?

Another very delicate moment of the show is Gabe. Gabe is gay, and it’s all new to him, as he still very unsure of how to deal with this new feeling, or how to open up to anyone about it. So he plays along and he unwilling hurts Maya, while giving in to the idea of being her boyfriend, so they could kiss on the play. Spoiler alert- They don’t kiss. The scenes are very emotional and I think it was very well written and portrayed, if you didn’t cry watching his struggle, you are not human. I just wanted to give a hug and protect him. Hey Awesomeness TV and Lonely Island: We need a Gabe spin-off!

While watching the show, it felt like I had relieved all the moments, like I was back in 7th grade again, after moving to a new city, where the girls were far too advanced for 13 years old, feeling like I didn’t belong there. Most of my time was spent at home, helping my mom with food prep o listening to my boombox and reading my magazines. My love interest was Leonardo Dicaprio and I was totally into the idea of becoming his bride child, I knew he always liked the girls way younger than him anyway, and this boy who I and my friends called “strawberry”.

That was because he used to flush when he played soccer with the other guys, and yes, Strawberry guy and I end up going on a date or two a few years later, only for me to realize he was trash. Completely utterly trash. Just like Brandt on the show, he was weird and full of himself. The final straw was when strawberry took me to the mall, just to make his ex-girlfriend jealous and got back to me after I saw him with the girl. Still, he had the audacity of saying “Can we talk?”. No. You go back to your girl, I’m leaving. I left and kept the 5 bucks for the Ice-cream he gave me before he disappears with the girl. You not going to waste my time and leave me without my ice-cream, do better.

The year 2000 led me to my Spec Script about the show

Carefully represented on the show with gel pens, music, and clothes. I used to have the same long skirt Anna wear in some of the scenes and the bucket. at the Vendy Wicanny episode it felt like when I watched The Craft and insisted to my mom I was a witch. In July, I submitted a script to the Nickelodeon writing program, and after 1 season of Pen15, in which I had to write a spec script about it.

A spec script works the same way as the test skills on the Indeed website, where you check your qualifications while applying for a job. A-Spec is a stand-off script of a tv show, where you show your knowledge about the show’s dynamic, character’s voice, and how consistent you can be with the storyline while writing for someone else tv show. It is like a cover letter, only with about 28 pages, if you decided to write a comedy spec. Pen15 was the easiest of all shows, because I lived in that era, had the same age as the characters. So writing while listening to N’Sync “Thinking of you”, was like being back in my old room, while writing fanfics about my favorite boybands.

It took me 3 weeks to come up with a story, which was based on something that happened to me, luckily , Maya’s character is as absurd and intense as I was, so it was easy to fill in the gaps and create my own episode. I had to dig deep, as in July there was only one season to study all the characters mannerisms and vocabulary. I ended up watching hours of interviews and got into the Youtube hole to make sure I didn’t mess up.

If I messed up something on that script, it was probably my grammar, as I didn’t have much time at all to go over again, before submitting, as this would cause me a lot of insecurities and self-doubt. Besides that, what are the odds of me winning the contest to work at Nickelodeon?

There are plenty of funny moments on the show, on episode 2, when they decided to join the wrestling team, had to gain about 12lbs in a week and they do it while eating boiled eggs with peanut butter. The coach is amazed by their ability and in awe by their commitment. The show is not cliche, but it has a fine line between the chaos and the absurd we find in those situations, like when a new friend comes around and add words to your vocabulary and misdemeanor behavior towards your parents. You have to get spanked by your mom in the middle of the store for calling her a bitch.

If you never watch the show, it’s a great nostalgic way to relieve those days. And cringe. Or if you were born after, it’s a good way to learn how fun weird the beginning of the 2000s was.

Thats is for now, I will find more movies and tv shows to talk about on the next week’s post. Let me know in the comments if you watched Pen15 and how was the year 2000 for you!

J.G.Snelly

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  1. I was also in my teen years in 2000! I enjoy watching movies and shows that take me back to those days! Was such a fan of Backstreet Boys!

    • Me too! I went to their concert in Rio, when I was 15, the best memories of my teens, and last year I went to the DNA tour in Chicago. They started the show with same song from the Black and Blue tour, and I lost it. lol

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