Sunday, August 8, 2021

Emmy Catch-Up: Pen15

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. Last year, I started watching the entire season of each show to get a better idea of the quality I missed, and I’ve decided to continue that this year.

Pen15: Season 2, Episode 2 “Wrestle” (B-)

This show is reminding me more and more of “Chad,” another show where a thirtysomething actress plays a teenager, and in that case portrays a teenage boy. But the idea is that awkwardness is key to every moment, and I just don’t enjoy cringing all that much. I’m sure I wasn’t particularly cool during my middle school and high school years, but I don’t remember it being quite that awful. It was obvious that Maya’s eagerness to wrestle wasn’t going to result in her getting Brandt to notice or show interest in her, and after she ended up having to wrestle Anna first, she then found out that he hadn’t won his match so she wasn’t going to be taking him on at all. Maya and Anna’s ability to move up to the weight class was impressive, but, again, it didn’t do them much good. Open, honest conversation is hard to find on this show, and whenever it does happen, it’s very fleeting because those moments are interrupted and the desire to seem impossibly cool and not at all emotional kicks in for everyone. The adult relationships on this show aren’t going that much better, and Anna is witnessing that firsthand as the go-between for her feuding parents over an incredibly symbolic pillow that speaks to the fights they’ve had and the things that they can’t stand about each other. Theoretically, it’s a painful dynamic that Maya could help Anna process but she seems far too preoccupied with being with Brandt to think about anything else.

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