Pen15: “First Day” Review

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Image Source: Hulu

Synopsis:

It’s the first day of seventh grade in the year 2000. School rejects, Anna and Maya, get a lot of unexpected attention.

 

This TV show is already so nostalgic to me, because are main characters, Maya and Anna, are starting 7th grade in the year 2000, and this was around the same time I also started the same grade. Watching this show brought back so many memories, and I thought it would be fun to review the show, but also give some insight about how realistic I think the show is based on my experiences going to school during this time.

Opening the show, we hear Mandy Moore’s hit song, “Candy,” and that already transported me to my time in middle school. Mandy Moore was a huge deal during that time and pretty much every girl was obsessed with that song. We also get to see Maya and Anna get excited about their first day of school, and I remember always being excited, but nervous about my first day too. I could totally relate to them, because they were talking about what they were going to wear, and I did the exact same thing. I needed to wear something new and show that I was a new and improved person. At this time, all the girls were running to Limited Too, but I grew out of their clothes pretty quickly, so I had to make due and move over to Abercrombie & Fitch, which also became hugely popular among the teeny boppers. Maya gets a bright idea to cut her hair, but ends up failing miserably, so once her mom decides to take matters into her own hands, and decides to fix it, she ends up giving her a bowl cut. She literally puts a bowl over her head, and uses that as a template. I felt soooo bad for Maya, because I also had a bowl cut, but when I was a lot younger. And lets just say, that look doesn’t look good on anyone. Analyzing the way these two friends are talking to each other so far, my only red flag, is that I feel like they swear way more than I remember people swearing in my middle school. I think maybe by the end of 8th grade, kids started swearing more, but the language seems a little off to me. Maybe kids now a days swear more at an earlier age, but it doesn’t bother me much. It’s quite comical, actually. Moving on, we see that Maya and Anna carpool together, with some other kids and yet again, I have to bring up some fashion choices that I saw. Anna decided to wear a friendship bracelet choker, which all the girls loved to make and Maya was wearing K-Swiss tennis shoes, which I’m pretty sure I had the same exact pair of. Lastly, Maya decided on a rolly backpack, which sorry to say, wasn’t all the rage with the teens.

Another issue most teenagers were dealing with during that time was puberty. Girls were developing and everyone was getting hot and bothered about the opposite sex. We see this happening with Maya and Anna. Anna has a crush on a popular boy, named Alex. And she thinks she can get his attention by showing off her new bra. This is so funny because I think during the time of girls maturing, we discovered that our new assets were a new way to get a guys attention. I remember in my school, girls were starting to wear lower cut shirts and shorter skirts. Rumors start flying that two boys, Brandt and Dustin, have crushes on Maya. Throughout the rest of the episode, the girls talk about who Maya should go for and it makes for some funny conversations. They talk about the boys during gym class, where they have to wear those horrible gym uniforms and play kickball. Anna ends up kicking the ball right at Alex’s face, and they both go to the nurse’s office. They’re sitting together, and in that moment, there’s a realization that Anna Konkle, who plays Anna on the show, is so much bigger than Alex. The actors that Anna and Maya play opposite of, are actual 7th graders, and these boys haven’t had their growth spurts yet, so it’s funny to see “actor Anna” sitting next to this younger boy, who is so much smaller than her. Afterwards, the girls are in class, and the teacher asks Maya to come up and talk about what she did during her summer break. She decides to talk about watching Ace Ventura, and does some great impressions of Jim Carrey. Later, the girls talk about Maya’s potential suiters and low and behold, they are writing with gel pens, which were also big in the 2000’s. I couldn’t buy enough of them. They also started using the abbreviated slang, like wuts ↑?  And other words that basically used a couple of letters. And folded a letter in a super secretive way. You know the one; where you’re basically doing origami and it turns into a rectangle shape. By the end of the day, Maya finds out that the whole Brandt/Dustin crush was a prank, and that everyone thinks she’s the ugliest girl in school, or a UGIS. At this moment, I felt so bad for Maya. She was so excited about starting 7th grade, and it ended up being a big disappointment. Thankfully, I never saw anything like this happen at my school, but that’s middle school for ya. The girls decide that the best idea, is to talk to Maya’s brother, who is an 8th grader, and ask what they should do. When they walk over to him, we see another 2000’s reference. He is drinking Surge, which was a popular soda of that time. Sadly, the soda has been taken off the market, but it makes sense why. That soda was chalked full of sugar and caffeine, so it did exactly what the name says. It gave you a serious sugar rush. Back to the scene, the girls talk to Maya’s brother, and he gives Maya some ideas of how to trash talk to Brandt. After school, the girls meet Brandt and Dustin outside, and at first, Maya is apprehensive about saying bad things to Brandt, but then she gets carried away, and takes things too far. She leads with what her brother had told her to say, but then she mentions that his dad is dead. That immediately stops everything, and the girls run away.

Back at home, Maya’s brother slips a note under her door, and he has given her the location of where the list of UGIS names are. The next day, her and Anna go there, and she scratches her name out. She returns to Anna, and admits that she’s scared about 7th grade. I could see where she’s coming from, because starting a new year in school, can be daunting, because each year, you are given more responsibilities and are expected to act more like an adult. That in itself is scary. Teachers are preparing you for high school, and that is also scary to think about. Thankfully, Maya and Anna have such a great relationship, and decide that they’re going to take it day by day, and have each other’s back. I just love that this series is all about this great friendship, and how these two decide to deal with growing up. It really puts into perspective, how they deal with common issues throughout school, and maybe how you dealt with similar things, when you were that age. Lastly, we close the episode, with another great hit from that time; TLC’s “Unpretty.”

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