Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle know what “Pen15” fans are thinking — that the two ended their hit coming-of-age Hulu series after just two seasons because things got too complicated to do more because of COVID. At least that was some of the online speculation when they announced the news.
“It looks like that from the outside,” Konkle says on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast.
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Especially after the final season was divided into two parts, called 2A and 2B. “It was something that we talked about for a bit, a while ago, of it being three chapters,” Konkle explains. “And the confusing part is that this is unfortunately called 2B, which is not our choice. In our minds, it’s a Season 3. So chapters is the term. And parts 2A and 2B were always supposed to be separate before COVID happened.”
But they’re not completely shutting the door on the series, which stars Erskine and Konkle, who are both 34, as teenagers navigating middle school. Their co-stars are actors in their teens. “I think also it’s been the biggest privilege in the world to do. And also the showrunning, acting, writing, producing, I couldn’t imagine anything better,” Konkle says. “And it’s also like 15-hour days for years. We conceived of the idea 10 years ago. So it’s time and if we feel inspired in the future, then we’ll do more.”
Right now, the future includes Erskine appearing in the “Star Wars” series “Obi-Wan Kenobi” on Disney Plus, and Konkle finishing her much-anticipated memoir.
Erskine’s mother, Mutsuko, played her mom on the series and is now auditioning for more work. “She just did a callback for something, but she just texted me and she’s already acting like I do after auditions: ‘I was horrible in the room. It’s definitely not going to go my way,’” Erskine says. “I helped her make the tape. I think she was great. … She’s not outright seeking [an acting career], but every once in a while through my agents, they’re so lovely though to get her an audition. She needs reps if anyone is listening.”
Both Erskine and Konkle gave birth earlier this year.
Konkle says being a new mom is one of the reasons her memoir writing isn’t coming along as quickly as she had originally planned. “Just balancing [post-production] and this new motherhood job as well is fucking hard,” she says. “And pumping and breastfeeding, and vagina healing, and body changing — it is the real deal. Bowing down to everyone that’s done it before us.”
One can’t blame her for wanting to take her time to get her book right. She says it will deal with secrets that she was once ashamed of. “Memoirs also are the only things that I read,” Konkle says. “And it was so healing for me to, for the first time, read about people owning their shame and secrets in a fucking hilarious way. … There was some healing also in seeing that these people weren’t dead on the street. They had lived and had the strength to write it down, and talk about it in a way that was artful, that I could look up to and go like, ‘Ah, okay, I can be okay. I can be okay, too.’”
Listen to the full interview with Erskine and Konkle above. You can also find “Just for Variety” at Apple Podcasts or wherever you download your favorite pods.
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