Series: Looking for Alaska
Where to watch it: Hulu
Miles Halter is a high school student who has a unique talent for remembering the last words of famous dead people. He is particularly struck by the last words of French poet, Francois Rabelais, who said “ I go to seek a Great Perphaps”. After pondering the meaning, Miles is left wanting to find his own Great Perhaps. He enrolls in the boarding school of Culver Creek Academy and is given the nickname Pudge by he’s roommate Chip (a.k.a “The Colonel”). He meets dreamy-eyed Alaska who is pondering her own meaning of life- a line from a novel “How do I get out of this labyrinth?” Alaska has had a difficult home life, including the death of her mother, which she handles by drowning herself in books, cheap wine, feminism, and revenge pranks. Miles is instantly entranced by Alaska.
Culver Creek Academy is divided between the scholarship kids and the more financially privileged kids, “The Weekday Warriors”. Lines are drawn when Miles chooses his friendship with The Colonel, Alaska, and Takumi. The school starts off with a bang when two students, one being Alaska’s longtime roommate, are expelled for inappropriate conducted. A rat is suspected which is considered the greatest crime of all amongst the students. Revenge pranks become serious between the groups. Ultimately, it is discovered that Alaska is the person that ratted on her roommate and even her friends have to walk away.
With no allies, Alaska is left alone as the revenge pranks continue. When The Weekday Warriors place a running water hose in her cabin over night, destroying her “life’s library” of books, her friends decide that it has gone too far. They make a plan to retaliate by submitting a college essay about the challenges of experiencing diarrhea during a formal event. The friends are ecstatic as it seems they have pulled it off. That is until it’s traced back to The Colonel and he is threatened with criminal charges. Left to commiserate, The Colonel and his friends engage in drunken truth or dare. Miles and Alaska admit to having feelings for each other and have sex. Before they fall asleep, Alaska is smiles and tells Miles “To be continued”.
Suddenly, Miles is woken by a panicked and crying Alaska who states she must leave. Confused but obliging, Miles and The Colonel create a distraction so she can take her car and leave campus. In the morning, the school is called together and they are told Alaska is dead. She crashed her vehicle straight into a police barricade without stopping. Miles and her friends are confused as to why she left. At the funeral, they speak with her ex-boyfriend and learn that he spoke with her that night after she had sex with Miles. Miles and The Colonel discover that she had forgotten the anniversary of her mother’s death and was most likely leaving to put flowers on her grave. They grapple with the possibility that it was a suicide or that they are responsible for letting her drive drunk.
Ultimately they begin to move forward, accepting her death as we do with bittersweet nostalgia. Taking both the good and bad that a person brings into our life and still loving them all the same. The school commemorates a bench to Alaska because of her love of reading but her friends are not satisfied. Instead, they pull off the best prank in the school’s history. Miles chooses to remember her by her last words “To be continued”.
It was a lot better after I realized I missed the final episode.
Is it worth watching: Give it a try.
First this is based on a novel by John Green. John Green knows the following things really well:
1)Nerds- I don’t mean this in a derogatory way. It’s how he identifies and so do I.
2)Saying things that are super quotable in interviews and on the internet.
3)Writing novels that connect with young adults.
4) Making me cry.
I kind of think of him like the Nicholas Sparks of young adult novels.
I’m always surprised. Even when I don’t think I’m going to like one of his stories, I normally do.
Something else interesting about the novel- it was on many school required reading lists but went on to be BANNED due to language and explicit content -particularly discussion of oral sex.
Ok, moving on to review the actual show. I was super mad when I thought this series ended at episode 7. Hulu just rolled me right over into another show and I thought it was over. I was not happy. In preparing to write this article, I discovered I missed the last episode!
The show was well cast and the characters fairly well developed. More importantly, this series portrays the emotional struggles of a young woman idolized and seen as a person of strength by her peers. As her story unfolds, they learn that there is more to her that meets the eye. It is actually a journey that her friends go on- feeling sorry for her and then ultimately accepting her as a whole person, perfectly imperfect.