Source: Hulu

Actor Bill Kottkamp Kills It as Derrick, aka the Most Unlikable 'Pen15' Character of the Entire Series


Dec. 6 2021, Published 8:41 p.m. ET

Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Season 2, Part 2 of Pen15.

Friends, Mai and Na have boyfriends. Sort of. Our favorite socially-awkward seventh graders, Pen15's Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine) and Anna Kone (Anna Konkle), have reached that point of adolescence. You know, that pivotal point where you meet the absolute love of your life in middle school, only to devastatingly break up two weeks later. Ugh, pubescence is pain.

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After joining the set crew for the middle school play, Anna meets mysterious high school freshman Steve (Chau Long), who "supervises" the crew. This occurs in the first part of Season 2. The second part of Season 2 — which premiered on Dec. 3, 2021 — sees Anna and Steve's relationship progress, leading to their eventual courtship. Along with Maya, Steve's arguably gross best friend, Derrick, starts tagging along to the couple's "dates," causing Maya and Derrick to also become an item.

While Anna and Steve genuinely have (or had) feelings for each other, Derrick agrees to be naive Maya's boyfriend for all the wrong reasons. With his greasy curls, wiry mustache, and apathetic personality, we've all known a Derrick, perhaps too many of them. And though we deeply despise Derrick, actor Bill Kottkamp nails everything about the sleazy character. Let's further discuss Derrick's intentions with Maya as well as Bill Kottkamp's acting career.

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Source: Hulu

How does Derrick become Maya's boyfriend?

Subsequent to meeting at Anna's Grammy's wake, Maya asks Derrick to be her boyfriend during a hangout session with all four lovebirds. He responds, saying, "Your glasses are weird. Okay." He was referring to Maya's yellow-tinted glasses, which she wears to combat her newly diagnosed Irlen Syndrome.

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Also diagnosed with ADD, Maya gives a few of her new pills to Derrick, who takes them to get high (if we're being real, he likely only takes them to look "cool"). Maya's ADD medication is one of Derrick's main motivations for "dating" her, the other being to use her for sexual favors. We'll get to that.

Sweet Maya hasn't even had her first kiss yet, so Derrick's requests and overall aura are more than a bit jarring in comparison. And while Derrick and Steve are best friends, they aren't exactly cut from the same cloth. Derrick is much more repulsive, as his selfish desires outweigh any existing chivalry and empathy. Misogynistic, racist comments like "You should grow your hair longer, Lucy Liu," only further enhance the teenage poison of Derrick.

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Source: Hulu

We don't get a lot of background on Derrick, but we know that his mother is never home. This at least gives us a bit of insight into his home life.

While the quad of teens hangs out at Derrick's house, he asks Maya if she wants to head to his room. Her genuine smile is heartbreaking, as Maya thinks she is about to get the romantic, memorable first kiss of her dreams.

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Instead, Derrick manipulates Maya into performing oral sex on him. It's a scene that's as uncomfortable as it is devastating, leaving us feeling like we shouldn't be watching.

Things only get worse when he later breaks Maya's heart over the phone. After demanding she turn on a specific radio station — which emits Santana's "Smooth" featuring Rob Thomas — he says, "Every time you hear this song, think about how I'm breaking up with you, 'cause that's what I'm doing right now." Derrick ruined such a good song!

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Where else have we seen Bill Kottkamp?

While Derrick's storyline is simultaneously enraging and nostalgic, we've got to give actor and producer Bill Kottkamp props, as it takes skill to be that darn unlikeable.

Bill has played a handful of small roles in big productions like Annabelle Comes Home and Fist Fight. While it's looking like Bill's acting career is just getting started (they're credited as "Pizza Guy" in Annabelle Comes Home), their role in Hulu's Pen15 has us rooting for them.

All Pen15 episodes are currently streaming on Hulu.

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