In my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I was what one may call a Tumblr girl. I’d go to Arctic Monkey concerts, listen to The 1975, wear American Apparel tennis skirts, watch the U.K. version of “Skins” and read books about deep topics like death. Even if they were just cheesy John Green books, they were edgy to me and all the other girls filling our Instagram feeds with grid prints and succulents.
Now, Tumblr girl is a seldom used term, and I’m a junior in college. I looked back on those years and smiled when I heard Hulu was making a “Looking for Alaska” series, and I was excited to tune back into my faux edgy side. The first season of the show was released on Hulu in the bulk of eight episodes Oct. 18.
I immediately realized in the first few minutes that the casting was done really well. Alaska was exactly as I imagined her. Well, I thought she’d be played by Kaya Scodelario, but Kristine Froseth has the same energy. She’s witty, smart and mysterious, which was exactly what Alaska exuded in the original novel by Green that the show was based on.
Miles, played by Charlie Plummer, is dorky and as awkward as I imagined. He’s obsessed with memorizing people’s last words, and in the first episode no one shows up to his birthday party. His parents are also overbearing and crowding, talking to Miles about avoiding sexually transmitted diseases at his new boarding school. Chip, played by Denny Love, was also incredible, smart and another complex character on the list. He’s got some enemies at the boarding school, but he is good friends with Alaska who, along with many other people, call him The Colonel.
The show is filmed beautifully, with an amazing soundtrack. Each character is fleshed out and interesting, with layers that some other teenage shows lack. There’s not one stereotypical character in my opinion — even Alaska is sweeter and not as over-the-top mysterious as she was in the book.
The show’s setting is also beautiful and one of the many aspects that was dead on in my imagination. Set in 2005, it has a tiny touch of nostalgia for anyone in my age range.
Miles, moving to his new boarding school to seek his great perhaps, as he calls it, is a perfect lead-in to a story filled with adventure, and it leaves the audience wondering if his obsessions with last words will come into play later.
As the story goes on, I enjoyed the fun parts of the episodes, like the crazy pranks and feuds between the main group of friends and the rich guys. I also really enjoyed Miles and Lara, who is a girl that Alaska sets Miles up with, and their budding relationship and awkward representation of high school firsts, like sexual experiences and dates. I just kept thinking the whole time that Lara deserved better than Miles. I also noticed that many aspects of the show weren’t exactly like the book, and I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about that.
Overall, it was a good interpretation but felt like its own entity apart from the book. I kind of wish the season ended with the big plot twist, instead of there being two additional episodes after the twist that seemed to drag on. I like to see the aftermath but only to a certain extent, two full episodes felt repetitive and boring.
I definitely won’t spoil the end of the season for you, but if you haven’t read the book and you aren’t prepared, buckle up.