'PEN15' Writers Dissect the "Incredibly Isolating" Scene From a Key Episode

PEN15 S01E09 Still - Publicity - H 2019
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Emmy-nominated scribes Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle reveal how they triggered Anna the character with jealousy and some "motherly advice [that] becomes devastating."

PEN15 — "Anna Ishii-Peters" written by Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle and Stacy Osei-Kuffour.

1. Konkle: "Anna feels she is losing her BFF and has just 'accidentally' stapled her own finger in class. Anna holds up her bloody finger so that Maya can see Anna's pain in hopes of getting more attention and love. Note: I really did staple my finger in class, but only because I was bored and playing with it. I was horrified."

2. Erskine: "Yuki needs to hear and understand that Anna's parents are too wrapped up in their fighting and can't be there for her. From Maya's perspective, it's got to look like she's been replaced."

3. Erskine: "Tone shifts to horror/twisted love story here."

4. Konkle: "Maya's mom giving Anna more attention only makes Maya more upset. What if there is not enough love to go around and Anna is stealing her only mom?!"

5. Erskine: "We almost had Anna wear Maya's wig (a bowl cut), but she looked too much like Lord Farquaad from Shrek."

6. Konkle: "You aren't getting many 'memos' at age 13 …"; Erskine: "Passive aggressive."

7. Konkle: "When you can't figure out what you need but you know you don't like what's going on …"

8. Erskine: "Not only is Anna taking her mom's attention, she's also taking her favorite food. The last straw!"

9. Konkle: "This is the last straw!"

10. Konkle: "Hahaha. Anna's tall, but this is rude."

11. Erskine: "Poor Anna has felt this from Maya for the past two days. Nothing worse. Especially when you're at your friend's house and don't have your own parents/home for comfort. Incredibly isolating."

12. Konkle: "Good, motherly advice that ends up being super triggering because Maya has been masturbating in secret and in shame. To Maya, being an innocent, 'little' girl is her best way to ensure continued parental love. So, this motherly advice becomes devastating."

This story first appeared in the Aug. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.