‘PEN15’s Dallas Liu: Season 2 Dives Deeper Into The ‘Emotional Trauma Of Adolescence’

Hulu's critical darling 'PEN15' is back for season 2, and HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Dallas Liu about explore more of middle school's 'tough experiences,' the more 'serious' season 2, and more.

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Image Credit: Jonny Marlow

PEN15 took the world by storm when it first debuted back Feb. 2019 on Hulu. Now the series is back for season 2, and it will include plenty of cringeworthy middle school moments that will take you right back to those awkward days. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Dallas Liu, who plays Shuji, about what to expect in season 2.

“We’re actually picking up where the first season ended with the falling out with Sam, Anna’s breakup with Brendan, and things like that,” Dallas told HollywoodLife. “In season 2, I think we’re just diving deeper into the emotional trauma of adolescence and offering a more realistic portrayal of the tough experiences in middle school with bullying and all that stuff.” He added that season 2 is “more serious” than the first season.

Dallas Liu
Dallas Liu plays Shuji on ‘PEN15.’ (Photographer: Jonny Marlow / Groomer: Nathaniel Dezan / Stylist: Adam Ballheim)

Dallas couldn’t say much about specifics regarding Shuji’s storyline, but he did rave about the “realistic” relationship between Shuji and Maya, played by co-creator Maya Erskine. “I can relate to that relationship so easily with my younger brother,” Dallas said. “So coming on set and having to play the part of Shuji was just completely natural to me.”

Dallas was born in 2001. PEN15 is set in the year 2000, so he had a lot to learn when it comes to 2000-era middle school. “I asked my parents a lot about it actually,” the actor admitted. “The main thing that I was really wondering about was the wardrobe. Because when I went to my first fitting, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I love all these clothes. I could wear this in real life. I’m trying to bring these styles back.'”

Dallas Liu
Dallas Liu in a scene from season 2. (Hulu)

The actor has learned a lot from playing Shuji and being a part of the PEN15 family. He’s more focused now on “staying true” to who he is. “When I first started acting, I think I got so caught up in how people viewed me as a person and the way that I made my decisions and the way I was going about scenes, but when I saw Maya and Anna [Konkle] on set, they were really just being themselves and being honest with their work, which I respect so much.” PEN15 season 2 is now streaming on Hulu.

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