Adapted by the young adult novel by John Green, I must admit I was very excited to watch this Hulu original. As an angsty middle schooler who felt very ~seen~ by this book, I was excited to relive my pubescent days and see how they would recreate this on the small screen. I’m happy to say that the show really stays true to the novel. To anyone else who read this crying in their formative years – you will feel all of those emotions all over again and cry just as hard.
I think this mini-series accomplishes what 13 Reasons Why hoped and failed to do. It perfectly encapsulates the extreme pain and confusion of adolescence for every teen – no matter what they’ve been through at that point. However, it doesn’t glorify and romanticize the pain to a point that feels dangerous and like a model for teen suicide. It is more profound, relatable, (rightfully) careful and focuses more on the ways adolescents grieve and how they come to terms with the permanence of death. While 13 Reasons Why focuses on the act of suicide, Looking for Alaska deals with our first experience with death and how we cope. While we all grapple with the idea of death our whole lives, Looking for Alaska beautifully and painfully portrays the first time we experience it first-hand.
It definitely has corniness and every scene has an abundance of angsty chain-smoking, but that is accurate to the early 2000’s book and to be honest, part of the reason it’s so appealing to young people. Furthermore, despite the corniness, I liked that the script played with it in a tongue-in-cheek way. They outright state the pretentiousness of some of the “deep” moments, but without at all making it satirical. It knows what it is and it owns it. While 13 Reasons Why took itself so seriously, LFA reflects the seriousness of the story while letting the viewer in on the jokes. As far as young adult series go, I think this one hits the mark really well. It overcomes being completely YA and is enjoyable for any age. Whether you’re a current teen, a nostalgic, former John Green stan or someone who has no connection at all to the material – the series is compelling, moving, humorous, and leaves you clicking “next episode” every time.
How to watch: Hulu