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‘PEN15’ Broke Ground By Portraying Real, Weird, and Wonderful Female Friendship

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PEN15 has stealthily joined the likes of Broad City and Insecure as a prime example for how female friendship and women-led comedies have become some of the most hilarious and inventive shows of the last few years.

The Hulu Original comedy series, the second season of which drops on September 17, features two women in their early 30s (Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle) playing versions of themselves as seventh graders in the year 2000 amongst actors who are actually middle school-aged; the show’s unabashed weirdness is something to admire.

For years and years we’ve seen men get to be the zany and ridiculous ones in comedy (re: any “Frat Pack” movie, many-an Adam Sandler project, heck, even those rascals Tom and Jerry!), but it’s not often that you see two women embracing the most embarrassing and strange aspects of themselves and owning it so perfectly that they spin the horrors of middle school into something delightfully unique and their own. And at the center of it all is the friendship between Maya and Anna, which is so pure and real, so that even though these characters are seen as losers and oddballs by their peers, they’re buoyed by each other and their friendship, getting them through everything from trying their first beer to underwear theft. Together.

The show’s sophomore season looks to be every bit as hilarious, absurd, and heartfelt as its first, and is already garnering positive buzz and reviews. Collider recently wrote that the new season feels even more emotionally developed and nuanced than its premiere season, praising, in particular, the “in-the-pocket, fully-felt, specific performances” of its two stars, adding that “Konkle and Erskine have stepped it up big time for Season 2.” In another article, The Washington Post celebrated this show “about two women allowing themselves to completely love the girls they once were, faults and all,” and the expert work of Konkle and Erskine. Plus, we at Decider have been loving this show ever since it first dropped, labeling its leading ladies as two of the 12 breakout tv stars of 2019 and PEN15 as one of the top 20 shows of 2019.

No matter where you look, the source of the show’s praise and success can be traced back to Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle. Not only does their real-life friendship (not quite since middle school, but they have been tight since college!) translate into beautiful and believable on-screen chemistry, but the performances themselves are so studied and true of middle schoolers, from the way they speak down to the way they dress and carry themselves, that as the show goes on you honestly begin to forget that they’re older than the kids around them. PEN15 is driven by its relationships, primarily that of Maya and Anna, but also Maya and her mother (played by her real-life mom, Mutsuko Erskine), which have strong bases in reality outside of the show. Because of this, PEN15 becomes so much more than two women leading in a comedy with a wacky premise: it is an honest and loving glimpse into the lives of people who feel unabashedly real, even when it’s awkward or embarrassing, just regular people that could have been you or me as our own middle school selves.

PEN15 truly is a special gem of a show led by two unique and brilliant women, and its second season is poised to exemplify just how wonderful Erskine and Konkle really are, but in brand new ways. Even though Season 2’s events begin a mere two days after the Season 1 finale, Maya and Anna are different, having been (in their opinions, at least) transformed into Women while having their breasts touched for the first time by a boy, Brandt, at the same time at their middle school dance. They feel changed, but will these newer versions of themselves buckle in the face of the fallout of Anna’s parents’ divorce, trying to deal with new romantic entanglements and pursuits, a new girl trying to turn their longtime duo into a trio, and a whole host of situations that will try to break the two girls apart? I’ve got a hunch that when it comes to Maya and Anna, there’s not much of anything that could keep these two BFFs apart for long. But hey, the only way to know for sure is by watching PEN15: Season 2 on Hulu when its first seven (of 14) episodes drops on September 18th (that’s tomorrow!), so don’t miss out on this testament to female friendship and comedic talent.

Watch PEN15 on Hulu

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Celebrity Family Feud Returns With a ‘Long [Bleep]’ and a Flirty Kathie Lee — Watch Three Saucy Sneak Peeks

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Things look to be a bit rrrribald when ABC‘s Celebrity Family Feud returns with new episodes, starting this Sunday aka Emmy Night.

Airing at 7 pm ET, 9pm MT and after the Emmys for the West Coast, Sunday’s Feud pit Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Brad Garrett against his onetime TV brother Ray Romano, after which rock bands Fall Out Boy and Weezer will go head-to-head.

In the sneak peek above, Garrett — whose team of comedians is playing on behalf of the Maximum Hope Foundation — is asked to complete the sentence, “I need a long ____.” Will the sitcom giant go there? Press play to find out.

In the clip below, meanwhile, Team Garrett member Deb Gutierrez serves up her own saucy answer to a question:

Following the Emmy Night special, Celebrity Family Feud settles into its new time slot, Thursdays at 8/7c, starting Sept. 24 — where Kathie Lee Gifford battles fellow daytime-TV vet Ricki Lake, and 2 Chainz goes up against Big Boi. Press play below to watch Gifford fawn over host Steve Harvey’s… well, you’ll see. (And yes, this was taped pre-pandemic!)

Leading out of Celeb Family Feud on Thursdays will be new episodes of Press Your Luck and Match Game, starting Sept. 24.

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The reason Altered Carbon fans think season 2 was so weak

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The vocal fan community of Altered Carbon has its theories, with one major complaint popping up over and over — namely, that every aspect of the show seemed to have been dialed back.

From a narrative perspective, fans were underwhelmed with the second season of Altered Carbon, especially when it came to the characters’ actions and motivations. One Reddit user, posting under the screen name Cerrax3, pointed out a lack of “grey areas,” stating that Tak’s actions were never uniformly “good” or “bad” in the first season — they were complicated. They cite the main character’s willingness to murder an abusive father, the use of shady law enforcement techniques, and the way that a character who misses his daughter keeps her perpetually alive and in a state of “torment” so that he can be near her. The second season, though, doesn’t explore these ethical complexities, instead choosing to present characters who have motivations that are cleanly good or evil. 

The quality of the show’s writing, in general, is something fans have criticized quite a few times. As another Redditor, Gilthu, put it, the grand intrigue of the first season was stripped away: “There are no mysteries. You basically get spoon fed things.” 

Combine these problems with what appears to have been a much lower production budget, as demonstrated by the lackluster — sometimes even laughable — special effects, and fans weren’t on board. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look a third season will come around to fix things, because in August of 2020, Netflix canceled Altered Carbon after just two seasons. For now, fans remain hopeful that it may one day be “resleeved” once more.

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‘The Daily Show’ Holds the ‘Pandemmy’ Awards (Because COVID) (Video)

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It might seem like a decade since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but it’s actually only been 7 months. You can be forgiven for thinking otherwise however, considering just how much has happened since the month Trump both publicly insisted COVID isn’t a real problem but privately admitted he knew good and well how dangerous the disease is.

So it’s pretty helpful that “The Daily Show” on Thursday reminded everyone of just how much of a fiasco America’s response has been with a gag parodying this week’s 2020 Emmy Awards: The Pandemmys. And though it is a big joke, it’s also something “The Daily Show Fans” can actually vote on.

And in a fun clip on Thursday’s episode promoting the awards, Trevor Noah broke down a few of the categories. Read on for a small sample.

Most Optimistic Performance.

Nominees:

Larry Kudlow, for falsely claiming “we have contained this” back in February.
Elon Musk, for claiming in March, without any evidence, that the U.S. would have the virus under control by “April”
Mike Pence, for asserting in April “by Memorial Day Weekend we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us.”
Jared Kushner, for saying in April that the federal government has handled things excellently and that the U.S. economy would be “really rocking again” by July.
Donald Trump, for his infamous assertion — made in March at the same time he was telling Bob Woodward that COVID-19 was probably going to kill a lot of people — that the disease would disappear “like a miracle.”

Best Karen (honoring ‘Karens’ losing their minds when asked to wear masks).

Nominees:

The Karen recorded during a performative freakout over masks at a Trader Joe’s” who called the other shoppersDemocratic Pigs, All of You.“
The Karen recorded during a performative freakout over masks at a pizza shop who insisted “I have a right to my pizza.“
The Karen recorded during a performative freakout over masks at a grocery store who threw items to the ground while screaming “I don’t give a f—.“
The Karen recorded during a performative freakout over masks at a bank who started banging her head against the door and licking the window while someone could be heard in the background comparing it to the Will Smith zombie-vampire movie “I am legend.“

Also shown, the bipartisan nominees for “Outstanding Stunt Coordination.”

“I’m telling you, the 2020 Pandemmys are gonna be sick. I mean like fever, dry cough, loss of smell sick,” Noah joked after running the clips.

If you want to take part in voting, you can head over right now to the Pandemmy Awards’ official site. Meanwhile, watch “The Daily Show” clip above, or check out the other categories in the videos below. They’re all really funny — and let’s be honest, scary/sad/angering/depressing too.

Best Bulls—.

Best Costume Design

Best Kevin (the male version of a Karen)

Outstanding Achievement in Wishful Thinking

Best Supporting Supporter

Best Foreign Film

Best Picture

Best Supporting Disaster in a Pandemic

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