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PEN15 gives immigrant moms their due

  • "Hulu's excellent PEN15 gets a lot of praise for its rare and singularly authentic portrayal of '90s girlhood," says Jess Joho. "But in the final seven episodes, the show extended its radical sincerity and candid intimacy to another lived experience that TV often ignores or dehumanizes: The inner world of an immigrant mom living in America. Protagonist Maya's mom, Yuki (played by PEN15 co-creator and star Maya Erskine's real-life mom, Mutsuko Erskine) has been central to many of the show's most genuinely heartfelt moments. For two seasons, critics have noted how Mutsuko Erskine's standout performance and Maya Erskine's writing of her character flips the script on typical stereotypes of Asian tiger moms. Episode 11 of Season 2 Pt. 2, 'Yuki' gives us the beautiful gift of spending a full 31-minutes alone with Yuki Ishii-Peters. We get to know who she is outside not only the family dynamic but also her own daughter's narrow point of view. The end result is an ode to the complexity of motherhood that straddles two (or more) cultures, in a character study that affords Yuki all the self-realized dignity, joy, and vulnerability that immigrant mothers rarely receive from their own families — let alone from their portrayals on TV."

    TOPICS: PEN15, Hulu, Matsuko Erskine, Immigration and TV