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PEN15's Jacuzzi Special - What We Know So Far

Hulu original series "PEN15" essentially requires its viewers to suspend their disbelief to an extent from the first minute, by merit of its approach to casting. Series stars Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle portray the similarly-named Maya Ishii-Peters and Anna Kone. That said, whereas Erskine and Konkle are both in their 30s, the characters they portray in "PEN15" are middle schoolers. Not only are the two adult actors embodying much younger characters, but the performers portraying their classmates are far closer in age to their on-screen counterparts than the two stars.

Whereas a lesser show might draw attention to this fact, Erskine and Konkle play their characters completely straight, aiming for situations that aren't comedic because the series' leads seem out of place, but because they're reminiscent of real, relatable early teen experiences. The result is one of the best sitcoms on TV.

"PEN15" is currently in the midst of a midseason break. The first half of its second season concluded in September 2020 (via IMDb), and an exact release date for Part 2 has yet to be announced. The series, however, will continue in animated form in an upcoming special episode titled "Jacuzzi," as reported by Vanity Fair. Here's what we know about "Jacuzzi" so far.

When will PEN15's Jacuzzi Special be released?

Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle first came up with the idea for "Jacuzzi" prior to the onset of the ongoing pandemic. The story as it was originally conceived would have been a 40-minute-long live-action episode. Visually, it was going to appear to have been filmed on a handheld camera, to evoke the look of footage of a '90s family vacation taken by a family member, before smartphones killed analog cameras. This idea was directly inspired by Konkle's dad, who was frequently filming even the most mundane family moments during her childhood, as she told Vanity Fair. Furthermore, the episode was supposed to utilize a number of prosthetics to depict certain surreal story elements.

Prior to the planned start date of the episode's filming, the onset of the pandemic suddenly prevented the "PEN15" crew from producing the episode as planned. Instead of giving up on their vision, however, Erskine and Konkle employed an animator to bring to life their surreal ideas. "Jacuzzi," in its new animated form, will premiere on Hulu on August 27.

Who will star in PEN15's Jacuzzi Special?

Though "Jacuzzi" looks to subvert certain "PEN15" norms, including its characters appearing for the first time in animated form, the special will star Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle as usual. While much of their performances in "Jacuzzi" were presumably captured from inside a voice actor's booth rather than in front of the camera, Vanity Fair does note that, following the episode's opening, it "morphs from live-action to hand-drawn." Erskine and Konkle, then, should likely appear in-person at the episode's start before it transitions into full-on animation.

That said, "Jacuzzi" will chronicle Maya and Anna on a family vacation in Florida, so the rest of their classmates are most likely absent from the episode. Said family vacation follows Season 2's midseason finale in which Maya and Anna leave a school party with Anna's father. As such, Taylor Nichols, who portrays Anna's father Curtis, should round out the cast of series regulars returning for the show's first animated excursion.

What is the plot of PEN15's Jacuzzi Special?

Anna Konkle told Vanity Fair that the "basic premise" for the episode "was going on vacation in Florida, and it never really being what you thought it was going to be." In that manner, the episode is inspired by real-life family vacations in which Konkle would first feel excited about a getaway to an exotic locale, before quickly becoming disillusioned with an environment seemingly hostile to her own enjoyment.

"I grew up going to Fort Lauderdale, where my grandparents lived in a retirement facility," she continued. "I was excited to go, but then I would get there and remember, Okay, Anna, you're sleeping on a mattress in the sunroom. So you're going to wake up in a pool of sweat on rubber. And you will not see a person your age for a week, and if someone agrees to play cards with you, you're lucky."

Konkle didn't detail any plot particulars about "Jacuzzi," but given that her own history of vacationing in Florida is serving as its main inspiration, some of the specifics she recounted to Vanity Fair will likely factor into the fictional Maya and Anna's trip in some way, shape, or form. The episode should also, judging by its title, feature a hot tub — from Konkle's recollection of her own visits to Florida, it's safe to say the titular jacuzzi won't be very glamorous but probably kind of sad and decrepit.