New Hulu Show Based on John Green’s Novel


How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering? Alaska Young regarded this as the most important question we must ask ourselves. Alaska has secrets, as most of us do, but she is more damaged than she lets on. The new Hulu original mini-series, Looking for Alaska, is directly based on John Green’s first novel of the same title. Though the novel received the Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association, it was subject to controversy a few years later, and even banned in schools across the country for profanity and explicit scenes. Seeing the release of the new show, I was interested to see what would be altered from the original narrative and if they would try to reach an older, more mature audience rather than changing the story to be more kid-friendly.
Looking for Alaska is about a boy named Miles “Pudge” Halter who leaves his high school in Florida to attend Culver Creek Boarding School in small-town Alabama, all in search of his “Great Perhaps.” Essentially, Miles craves a new start and wants to escape his lonely and dull life at his old school. Miles certainly has his wishes granted when he becomes friends with Chip “The Colonel,” Takumi, and Alaska Young, a rambunctious couple of misfits who have a long-standing rivalry with the popular, rich “westside warriors.” Miles then starts to fall in love with Alaska, a mysterious and rebellious girl who begins to complicate his life. He learns the true value of friendship and loyalty as well as having to mature emotionally throughout his experiences at Culver Creek.
Charlie Plummer, the actor who plays Miles, sells his socially-awkward but sweet character well and left me no choice but to root for him to succeed. Miles grows immensely during the course of the mini-series as he breaks out of his shell and experiences real loss. With an eventful and exciting life comes more extreme up and downs, causing Miles to realize that the “Great Perhaps” he sought after, he found in the form of Alaska. He has to continuously look for her (referring to the title) on a metaphorical level because she holds great mysteries that he has yet to explore. Kristen Froseth, who plays Alaska Young, does a good job of portraying the inner turmoil Alaska feels, though I did find her character to be somewhat stereotypical. She is the classic “not like other girls” tough, feminist girl who appreciates great literature and has deep thoughts. In the show, she is contrasted with a foreign exchange student, Lara, who is more focused on academics and doesn’t have the same sense of loyalty to her friends as Alaska does. Lara is bubbly and innocent, while Alaska clearly has a dark past and a captivating nature. While Lara and Miles pursue a romantic relationship, they are never able to connect on a deep level as he does with Alaska, as she is more the type to ponder universal questions of life, rather than study for an exam.
Though I had read Looking for Alaska in middle school and remembered the general plot, I had forgotten how emotional and intense it was, which was further brought to life by the actors. Also, I have noticed that watching Looking for Alaska six years later is a very different experience, being able to relate to more of the experiences and emotions that the high-school-aged characters go through. I would definitely recommend that all high-school students and adults watch the mini-series, though I would give a warning that it deals with heavy topics such as suicide and drug use. It is a powerful show that reveals how Alaska, the seemingly beautiful and tough girl, was struggling in ways no one around her could comprehend. It teaches values of friendship and treating others with compassion because you never know what someone else is dealing with– no matter the front they put up.
I would give Looking For Alaska 4 out of 5 maroons because of the gripping mystery and captivating characters.