Pen15 Season 2 Ending Explained (2024)

Caution: Major spoilers ahead forPen15season 2.

The second half ofPen15season 2has arrived, providing a bittersweet ending for Hulu's quirky hit comedy.Creators Anna Konkle and Maya Erskinestar in the show as seventh-grade best friends Anna Kone and Maya Ishii-Peters, inspired by their own adolescent friendship and experiences. The premise of the series is off-beat from the get-go, with thirty-somethings Konkle and Erskine playing middle school versions of themselves, surrounded by their classmates who are played by actual tweens.Beyond its unconventional framework though,Pen15is genuinely funny and heartfelt, following Maya and Anna through the triumphs and traumas of adolescence.

Konkle and Erskine, who previouslyguest-starred onBig Mouth spoofing theirPen15 roles, decided to end the show on their own terms after just two seasons. The second half of Pen15season 2sees the two young protagonists dealing with themost mature issues thrown at them yet. Maya grapples with her family's economic status, while Anna faces a full-on existential crisis after learning about the Holocaust; and they bothfacedeath, cancer, family tension, high school boyfriends, andsuddenly being sexualized.

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Despiteending with the show's darkest string of episodes, thePen15season 2ending wrapped thingsupon a sweet and hopeful note for both Maya and Anna. The finale highlighted just how inventively the show explores the actual experiences of adolescents, not unlikeNetflix's oft-comparedBig Mouth, now on season 5.Anna and Mayahad spent the final episodespreoccupied bytheir high school boyfriends Steve and Derrick—played by adult actors Chau Long and Bill Kottkamp— crescendoing toa horrifying sequence in which Mayaperforms oral sex on Derrick before even getting her first kiss. The finale brought them back to a place of nostalgic innocence, offering a touching endpoint that still leaves some questions unanswered.

Maya and Anna Reconnect With Their Innocent Roots

Pen15 Season 2 Ending Explained (1)

After Maya's grotesque sexual experience with Derrick—after which he unceremoniously dumped her—she and Anna return to the drudgery of middle school. For the first time in the second half of season 2, the two protagonists hang out with their group of seventh grade friends: Jafeer (Tony Espinosa), Sam (Taj Cross), and Gabe (Dylan Gage, also featured inFear Street 1978). Much of the drama of the final episodes takes place outside of school and involves the duo's parents and older boyfriends, so this is a refreshing return to form forPen15. The show handles its mature topics deftly, and the message it hammers home is that while thirteen-year-olds are regularly faced withserious issues, they often struggle to engage in an emotionally mature way. With audiences reeling right alongside Maya from her jaunt with an older boyfriend, depicting Maya and Anna in a context appropriate for their development allowed for a collective sigh of relief.

Pen15's finale highlightshow strange middle school is with jarring tonal shifts. As Maya still recovers from her experience with Derrick, her friend and longstanding love interest Sam (played by Taj Cross, also featured inYoung Rock) entertains her with a terrible Ace Ventura impression, prompting her to jump inand one-up him with a spot-on impression. This bizarre juxtaposition emphasizes that while they are growing up and getting older, Anna and Maya should be free to remain innocent. Seeing Maya bantering with her friends shortly after seeing her sexually coercedcreates an upsetting dissonance that reminds viewers how quickly innocence can be snatched away — and how important it is to preserve the pockets of innocence that can be preserved.

Maya's Friends Rally Around Her After Her Trauma

Pen15 Season 2 Ending Explained (2)

Without even fully knowing the extent of her trauma, Maya's friends mobilize to support her in her time of need by offering to egg her ex-boyfriend Derrick's house after school. Sam, Gabe, Jafeer, and even Maya's older brother Shuji (played by Dallas Liu, who will play Zuko in Netflix'sAvatar: The Last Airbender adaptation) show up for her in her time of need, reminding her that while she may have felt alone in her struggles, she has steadfast friends in her corner. Anna shows her support most fervently, breaking up with her beloved boyfriend Steve when he refused to side with her and Maya over Derrick. This is a beautiful act of love from Anna, as she had been obsessed with Steve,underscoring the deliberate choice forPen15 to explore crushes and romance extensively but ultimately value the friendships most. Anna is also the only one of Maya's friends to know the full story about Derrick, although neither Anna nor Maya truly grasps the profundity of Maya's trauma; as a result, all Anna can do is recognize that Maya is struggling and be there for her by fully prioritizing her over Steve.

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Maya and Anna Fantasize About An Unrealistic Future

The series ends right where it began: in Anna's bedroom. Konkle and Erskine—who has been cast in the upcoming Obi-WanDisney+ show—turn in their best performances of the series, rooted in the fears and hopes of their seventh grade selves, as theywonder grimly whether they will one day outgrow their friendship with one another. After a long moment, they instead describe an alternative future where they live together and raise one another's kids.Pen15is coy about actual answers, preferring to push viewers to ponder along with Anna and Maya whether they will remain best friends forever. While the future they present is fantastical, it's also difficult to picture themleaving one another behind entirely; the truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but it is satisfying to enter into their dream scenario with them. The show's final moments depict Maya and Anna enraptured by a video of their younger selves, reminding them how far they've come—and how far they have to go.

The Real Meaning of Pen15's Ending

Pen15 Season 2 Ending Explained (4)

Anna's mom (played by Melora Walters ofBoogie Nights fame) and dad (Taylor Nichols), listen patiently to Anna in the finale as she describes her misgivings about Steve. When she asks them to fixit for her, her dad replies, "Oh, sweetie. We can't fix everything, you know that." This lesson is representative of the show's arc, with Maya and Anna both fighting for independence and adulthood, realizing it can often be too much, but ultimately coming to terms with the fact that they're on the brink of maturity and have to struggle through things anyway. Their friendship remains a core part of who they are and how they process their struggles, andPen15 pushes us to believe in the purity and strength of adolescent friendship, mirroring Konkle and Erskine's real-life relationship and creative partnership. It's not always clear how things will turn out, but thePen15season 2 ending remindsitsviewers that it's just as important to remember where they came from.

Next:Why The Great’s Historical Inaccuracies Make The Show… Great

Pen15is streaming now on Hulu.

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Pen15 Season 2 Ending Explained (2024)


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