Looking for Alaska: Hulu’s Miniseries with Mega Feelings

Amie Daniel, Staff Editor

October 2019 brought the long-awaited revival of Youtube intellectualist and award-winning novelist John Green’s debut work; Looking for Alaska to streaming platform Hulu. Although a visual adaptation had been in talks for years, stalls in creative direction kept fans in limbo until finally the project was picked up by veteran teen melodrama producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. For this John Green fan, sitting down to watch Hulu’s 8-episode mini-series Looking for Alaska felt a bit like “a great perhaps” in itself. The novel delivered gut-wrenching coming of age takeaways with moments of hilarity, vulnerability, and authenticity- something that is not so easy to replicate. With my emotions high but expectations moderately lowered as to not be disappointed, I embarked on the series.

As an avid series binger- I was surprised when I was not able to consume the episodes with my usual insatiability. To be honest, the themes of the novel and series are heavy when applied to strictly the characters- but the work has a way of getting so many to reflect on their own experiences. Experiences with loss, grief, and teenage angst had me needing to pause and take a breath between episodes. If you have managed to make it to 2019 without reading Green’s initial success, I can say that giving the series a go would not be a disappointing substitute. Albeit reading the book cannot be replaced, the Hulu series does a phenomenal job of capturing Green’s sincerity and even breathes new life into his cherished characters.

While both the book and the series utilize prodding “days before” and “days after” headings, there is some variance in the storytelling.

With some liberties taken into modernizing aspects of the work for present-day viewers, there is also an overarching sentimentality there for the saps clinging to the early 2000’s melancholy.

With soundtrack nods to Schwartz’  riveting hit The OC, and alternative favorites from The Postal Service, Modest Mouse, and Iron & Wine, music lovers have so much to appreciate in the show. It’s no secret that Green infused the novel with his own musical inspiration- when asked the meaning of Alaska’s name he disclosed that a cover by artist Nico paying homage to The Velvet Underground’s “Stephanie Says” prompted him to use the lyrics as the underpinnings of his heroine’s identity. Alaska- meaning that which the sea breaks against- can be thought of as a symbol of life’s cyclical unraveling and the resiliency of the human spirit.

Without spoiling the experience- the series delivers Green’s impeccable larger than life yearning for truth and the hope that is so needed to carry on through the suffering so promised to us all. I will say that I am utterly grateful for the adaptation of the original work into a series that could be watched from the comfort of my couch so I could be sure to have an ample supply of tissues handy.