Review: Looking For Alaska

By Maddy Turner

Looking For Alaska’ was released on Stan on October 18th, and has since attracted much attention from critics and teen drama fans alike. The series is based off John Green’s 2005 novel ‘Looking For Alaska,’ which follows the antics of four teenagers (Pudge aka Miles Halter, The Colonel aka Chip, Alaska Young, and Takumi), as they prank their way through highschool. The series is set in the pre-smartphone era of 2005. Right from the first episode we are drawn to the mysterious life of Alaska Young – a girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Through the darkness and sleeting rain shown in the first scene of the series, foreshadowing tells us that this adventure cannot end well for our four characters.

In less than a week, “Looking For Alaska” has received high praises. Personally, I think this is because it is slightly unique compared to other “teen dramas” such as ‘Riverdale’ or ‘13 Reasons Why.’ The writing of the show has managed to balance humour and seriousness almost perfectly for our characters; this means that it effectively and accurately translates what it might have been like to be a teen in the early 2000s. For example, they decide to nickname Miles Halter ‘Pudge’ ironically, as Miles is a string bean in need of a haircut. But while this is humorous, there is also a quote from Alaska “I don’t smoke for fun, I smoke to die,” which is obviously relatively morbid. 

The characters in this series are expertly developed, and I truly believe the actors played a critical role in the execution of this series. Firstly, Charlie Plummer was phenomenal in his portrayal of Miles Halter (Pudge). He has managed to capture the awkwardness and strangeness without it becoming annoying (again, well balanced). Seriously, this character is weird – his hobby is to remember dead people’s last words – in fact, they are the whole reason he decides to go to a new school in the first place. In the last words of the poet Francois Rebelais “I go to seek a great perhaps.” Kristine Froseth plays Alaska Young, and also does an incredible job. She perfectly portrays the girl who is broken on the inside but putting up an image of being fine on the outside. I mean, her essay question that she chooses for a religion class assessment is: “How will we ever escape this labyrinth of suffering?” And lastly, Denny Love who plays The Colonel aka Chip. Just as his nickname suggests, it was this actor who really glued all of the performances together. He does an excellent and heart wrenching performance of a kid who puts up a brave front while being a huge softy on the inside. To me, he was the most relatable characters in the series.

Overall, ‘Looking For Alaska,’ was worth the weekend binge, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It has a great message and really captures the essence of teenagers in the early 2000s when the height of misbehaviour was drinking wine, smoking and pranking. So, how do we escape from this labyrinth of suffering? According to Miles, we don’t escape it – we survive it.

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