There is not a better directed episode of comedy than Pen15’s season two finale, ‘Opening Night.’ As Maya and Anna grapple with a serious rift in their friendship, they have to open their high school play. It’s kind of a strange, bonkers mixture of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and a modern dance that you didn’t know you were in for. It’s pure magic, and I could watch it over and over again.
Director Sam Zvibleman was eager to jump into a huge musical number to finish the season. Not only does it truly reflect the emotional state of the young women at the center of Pen15, but it also reminds you of how fragile high school feuds can be. You can have the worst fight with your closest friend, but then you can gab and gasp over cute boys at the after party. If you were a teenager in the early 2000s, Pen15‘s second season hits you in your gut and then makes you laugh harder than you can remember.
In our conversation we talk about the definition of cringe comedy, how revolutionary the character of Gabe it, and whether Maura is actually a villain. The second season finale is a heightened masterpiece.