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PEN15 Season 3 - What We Know So Far

Hulu's popular cringe comedy show, PEN15, premiered its first season in February of 2019. Created by Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, and Sam Zvibleman, it also stars Erskine and Konkle in the leads as middle school versions of themselves and is set in the year 2000. Chronicling the awkwardness and frustrations of middle school life, Erskine and Konkle act alongside actual young, middle school-aged actors, which helps add to the overall humor and emphasizes how the main characters feel like outsiders.

In the past couple of years since its initial release, PEN15 has garnered an extensive fan following, as well as critical acclaim (including some coveted Emmy nominations). After season 1 finished up, fans were eager for the next installment of Maya and Anna's everyday adventures. The second season was then released in September of 2020 — although it was only the first half of the season. Even with the rest of season 2 still unreleased, fans are wondering about the details of a third season of the hilarious show. From release date to cast and plot, here's what we know so far.

When will PEN15 season 3 be released?

First and foremost, the second half of the second season needs to be addressed, as only half of it is currently available to watch on Hulu. This release date has not yet been announced by Hulu, but Harper's Bazaar, who spoke with Erksine and Konkle, confirmed that these episodes will be released sometime in 2021. However, The New York Times reported that while the second set was planned to come out six months after the first batch of episodes, the pandemic resulted in production being halted, extending the wait even longer. Konkle told the NYT that the remaining episodes would likely come out a year later from the time of the interview (September of 2020).

As for season 3, even less information is currently known since season 2 has yet to wrap up. After the first season came out in February of 2019, the renewal for a second season was announced just a few months later in early May. By that timeline, we may have to wait until the rest of season two is released before getting a confirmation on a third season. If the rest of season two does come out in September, then we will most likely know more about a future season by the end of this year. Still, PEN15 has been regarded as one of the best TV shows, with consistent acclaim from both viewers and critics alike — The Nation says the show is "so good it hurts," while the LA Times called it the "best new show" of 2019. With this sort of reputation, it makes it very probable that fans will eventually get that sought-after third season.

Who will be in season 3 of PEN15?

The only cast members who can be pretty much guaranteed to appear in season 3 — assuming we get one — are Erskine and Konkle; after all, they aren't just the lead characters, but also the creators and writers of the show. In addition to Maya and Anna, both characters' parents have had major screen time so far too. While Maya's father is often on tour with his Steely Dan cover band, she and her mother, Yuki (played by Erskine's real life mother, Mutsuko Erskine) deal with an up-and-down relationship, as many mothers and daughters can relate to. 

Meanwhile, a major storyline for Anna is dealing with her parents' tumultuous divorce; Anna's parents, Kathy and Curtis, are played by Melora Walters and Taylor Nicholas. It's very likely that these actors will return for a third season — especially if Mutsuko Erskin continues doing her daughter a "solid" by acting in the show, which she revealed to Vulture is how she initially became involved.

Additionally, many of the pair's classmates have remained consistent so far, such as Maya's "rival" and eventual love interest, Sam Zablowski (Taj Cross). Other frequent classmate cast members include Heather (Anna Pniowsky) and Brandt (Jonah Beres). These three actors, along with other familiar classmates, are likely to show up in the third season.

What will season 3 of PEN15 be about?

The series has covered a lot of middle school ground so far — from unrequited crushes to popularity woes and friendship fights, PEN15 has thoughtfully and successfully tackled many issues that we can all remember dealing with as 13-year-olds. With the characters still in the 7th grade, there is undoubtedly still a lot to cover going forward. The first half of season 2 ended with both friends in distress. Maya was left heartbroken after being broken up with by Gabe (Dylan Gage), her co-star in a school play. Meanwhile, Anna, who has been struggling with her parents' divorce, must decide which of her parents she wants to live with post-split.

Erskine and Konkle spoke with Harper's Bazaar about what's coming in the second half of season 2, stating that new experiences are coming their characters' way. Konkle said, "They're experiencing more firsts again. There were a ton of firsts in the first season. This block of seven episodes, it's the blow back from all the firsts. It's like, 'Who am I? What is this? Am I a teen? Am I a kid?' And then this next leg is like, 'Okay, I'm a teen. Here are my firsts. Now I can handle anything.'"

With these new experiences lined up for the next set of episodes, it seems as though season 3 may feature the "blow backs" of these events that are yet to come. Also, the show will likely be wrapping up 7th grade soon, so the third season may push the show's plot into the next grade. Whatever lies ahead with PEN15, it will almost certainly be as awkward, hilarious, and poignant as everything we've seen so far.