WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

I know that Dante, Milton and plenty of others have offered their thoughts on what the, ahem, bad place might look like. Fire. Ice. Crime-appropriate punishments. But for lots of us, the closest approximation we might have in our own memory banks is seventh grade.

Only a select few students loved middle school, and they were surely free of both acne and self-reflection. (I’m assuming they all own yachts today.) The rest of us loathed it, stepping into middle school's halls every day like convicted killers marching down the Green Mile. Our bodies were changing in unpleasant ways. Our hormones were turning us all into strange creatures straight from Dr. Moreau’s isle. We were moody and mean and horrifically insecure—certain that we were ugly and dumb, and equally sure we’d be that way forever.

Things do get better, of course, but few of us would ever want to go back to the fraught, insecure days of junior high.

Comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle are two of the few.

Intro to Geekurlogy

It’s the fall of 2000. Angelina Jolie is married to Billy Bob Thornton, CBS’s Survivor is in its first season and Blockbuster Video has just turned down an offer to buy Netflix, cheap. Meanwhile, 13-year-olds Maya Ishii-Peters and Anna Kone are in seventh grade.

Oh, sure, they may look like they’re older—perhaps in their late 20s or early 30s, in fact. But don’t let that fool you. They’re the most harshly-pecked kids in Trailview Middle School’s exceedingly harsh pecking order, surrounded by (real) kids who have little to say and less to do with them.

It’s not that they don’t try to make inroads here and there, and some classmates do deign to pass a word or two with them in the hallways. Certainly, they each have their own romantic interests.

But they’ve got some allies in their quest for acceptance, too, albeit reluctant ones. Maya’s über-cool eighth-grade brother, Shuji, occasionally offers pointers on how to navigate middle school—as long as Maya and Anna keep it secret. And Sam, a kid they ride to school with, may seem as jerky as they come, but he has a soft heart underneath.

Most importantly, they have each other. And that’s not to be underestimated.

Junior Low

“You are my actual rainbow gel pen in a sea of blue and black writing utensils,” Anna tells Maya, and it’s true (if not literally true). As ludicrous and unseemly and profane and grotesque and tawdry as Hulu’s Pen15 can be, Maya and Anna’s friendship feels real and true and oh-so affirming. It reflects the fact that most of us made it through middle school (or junior high) with the help of our faithful friends—the few folks who made life’s slings and arrows if not enjoyable, at least tolerable.

Pen15 feels honest—raw and painful in spots, but funny, filled as it is with the sort of humor that only age and perspective can give. Much of what we see here would fall into Plugged In’s “problematic content” categories, to be sure, but as a graduate of public school myself, I remember a lot of this problematic content vividly. It filled my junior high’s hallways every day.

Which brings us to the core point: While this show is obviously written about middle school, it’s intended for adults—and boy howdy, how adult it can get.

We hear lots of talk about middle school sexual activity (be it real or rumored or imagined or some confluence of all three). Language—beginning with this show's infantile and textually suggestive title—can be incredibly raw and often uttered by the pre- or barely-pubescent actors onscreen. And because we’re talking about being in the teeth of adolescence here, the behaviors we see can be crude and mean and unconscionable.

Yes, for most of us, middle school was a pretty terrible time. Most of us would never want to go back. And while Hulu gives us a clever, surprisingly poignant peek into the constant stresses and occasional joys of those days, Pen15 reminds me that I’m all grown up now. I know better. And I don’t have to go back anymore. Not even on TV.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Feb. 8, 2019: "First Day"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Comedy

Author

Cast

Maya Erskine as Maya Ishii-Peters; Anna Konkle as Anna Kone; Mutsuko Erskine as Yuki Ishii-Peters; Dylan Gage as Gabe; Taj Cross as Sam; Taylor Nichols as Curtis Kone; Anna Pniowsky as Heather; Brady Allen as Brendan; Lincoln Jolly as Alex; Ivan Mallon as Ian; Sami Rappoport as Becca; Melora Walters as Kathy Kone

Director

Distributor

Network

Hulu

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!