New Hulu show reinvigorates John Green fandom

Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

Arayna Wooley | a_wools, Contributing Writer

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After nearly a decade and a half of anticipation, John Green’s first TV show hits the screen.

John Green, notable for his hit novels “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns,” has produced yet another adaptation of his work. The difference is that fans have been waiting patiently for 14 years for this to hit the screen.

“Looking for Alaska” was Green’s debut novel. Shortly after its release, Josh Schwartz was given the rights to produce a movie, which fell through time and time again. After years of no progress, Green was unsure if he still wanted an adaptation, stating he no longer wanted any part of the movie.

Paramount showed lack of interest in adapting the novel; years later, producer Schwartz finalized a deal with Hulu and Paramount TV to release “Looking for Alaska” as an 8-part mini-series on Hulu. Schwartz is known for producing and writing “The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl,” so fans trusted him with his rendition of the fan-favorite. Green decided to give it another chance and helped with making the show.

Like Green’s other movies, the “Looking for Alaska” series closely follows the novel. For avid Green-readers, all the things to love about the book are still there in the show – and even though book-to-movie translations will never be exactly how you imagine them, Schwartz did this one justice.

The story follows a friend group going through the ups and downs of being a teen while at boarding school. It’s an experience loosely based off Green’s own background. He attended Indian Springs right outside of Birmingham, Alabama, which the show references more than once.

The story is told through Miles, the main protagonist and easily the least likeable character. We see through his perspective, which is often clouded with naïve judgement. Soon after arriving, he meets his roommate, Chip, referred to as the colonel, who bosses people around as if he is in the military. We then meet Takumi, Chip’s good friend who is always up to date with the rumors around school. Finally, Alaska is introduced, the mysterious rebel.

After a little time, they all become close and rival against the rude, wealthy kids that they refer to as the “weekday warriors.” It is filled with relationships, pranks and teen mischief followed by destruction, heartbreak and uncertainty.

The show is split into two parts: before and after. There is a big moment the show leads up to, and the contrast of tone before and after is palpable. If you re-watch the episodes, there are pivotal moments in the “before” section of the story that foreshadow and showcase how intricately detailed the show is. Through love, loss and betrayal, the characters display their faults and reckless ways, which lead to the consequences they come to face. 

The recurring characters have arcs that add to the depth of the plot. The religion studies teacher is first seen as a boring teacher but becomes a big part in the story as someone the characters seek out. Chip’s mom, who is very giving, becomes a place for comfort for many of the characters. The dean, who at first is very hard on rules, learns that not everything can be controlled.

While it is Green’s usual story – boy meets girl and falls in love – this plot goes so much deeper. Aside from the humor, it is dark and vulnerable. Each character is complex with their own specific issues that the other characters cannot quite grasp.