Skip this if you haven't seen Pen15 in its entirety including the finale and also skip this if you aren't in the right headspace to think about teenage sexual ickiness!
Yay, I'm writing this just for you and not for a magazine so I don't have to start with a whole paragraph explaining what Pen15 is and cagily holding back some details in case this is your first encounter with the concept of this show! I love newslettering.
I watched the finale of Pen15 on Monday night and I can't stop thinking about it. In this episode, which you know because you've seen it, (seriously, turn back now if you have not!) 7th graders Maya and Anna have "run away," a situation that starts out as a goof. The girls are trapped in a cycle of egging each other on and neither of them wants to be the first to admit to wanting to go home, which leads them to get into increasingly bad situations. This culminates in an unchaperoned visit to Maya's lnominal boyfriend Derrick's house. They're accompanied by Anna's actual boyfriend Steve who, like Derrick, is a high school freshman who's enough of a loser to date a 7th grade girl. While Anna and Steve make out fervently under an afghan, Derrick leads Maya to his room. There's a beautiful shot of Derrick framed in the doorway of his room as Maya decides whether to cross this threshold. She assumes she will get her first kiss, but she does not. Derrick isn't interested in kissing. In fact, it's strongly implied that he hasn't ever kissed anyone either.
One of the things this genius show portrays perfectly is that Maya is SO HORNY. Every molecule in her body is rubbing up against every other molecule at all times, trying to figure out how to masturbate on a molecular level. But also, this horniness is inchoate in a way that rang very true to me, a former inchoately horny 12 year old girl. Earlier in the season, Maya is shown getting out a jerkoff folder full of pages torn out of magazines. These images are so innocent: a single blurry boob. Some closeups of plants. Just vibes. Vibes are all she needs and maybe even all she wants, at this stage of her life. The reality that Maya embodies, which has maybe never been depicted on TV before with quite this level of specificity and explicitness, is that you can be desperately full of sexual desire AND also utterly unready to have sex with another person.