Looking for Alaska Review: Teen Drama Done Right

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With TV shows premiering at an alarming rate, it's becoming increasingly difficult to cut through the clutter to find the ones that are worth watching. 

Hulu's Looking for Alaska, based on the John Green novel of the same name, is a coming of age story that is well worth watching. 

Yes, it's filled with the melodrama you would expect from a teen drama, but it delivers a solid plot about a group of younger people trying to find themselves in the world. 

Looking for Alaska Teens

At the wheel is Charlie Plummer as Miles "Pudge" Halter, a teenager who is fascinated by last words. 

It's certainly a different thing for a teenager to like in this social media conscious world, but Looking for Alaska feels like a teen drama from the early days of the WB, and it's all thanks to when it is set. 

Miles Calls Home

It's refreshing to see a bunch of youngsters who are not all about posting their latest selfies to Instagram or starting vlogs on Youtube. That's what makes this a teen drama you should not overlook. 

It will be nostalgic for some and shocking for some of the younger generation who don't recall a world in which they didn't have to worry about posting their latest selfies for their followers.

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Miles struggled to fit in at home. Despite his best attempt, he couldn't make friends, so he looked at this school as a fresh start for him. It certainly is that, but not in the way he was expecting. 

Looking for Alaska is about a group of teenagers who are at the low end of the totem pole on campus, thanks in large part to them not being as wealthy as their peers. 

Chip Dressed Up

But don't expect Riverdale levels of social divides to come out to play here.

There are pranks and other ugly things that are born from the divide, but the series manages to tackle the heavier subject matters in a grounded way. 

That's one of the biggest positives. At no point does it feel like the series is hurling twists left right and center with the aim of keeping viewers intrigued. 

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Instead, the storylines get time to breathe, allowing viewers to think about them in-depth.

Maybe making this an eight-part limited series was the best foot forward because other teen dramas struggle to keep things intriguing throughout. 

A New Couple Emerges

With plots that feel like they genuinely have to be part of the narrative, viewers will leave the series feeling like a lot was accomplished in just eight episodes. 

Things change for Miles the moment he comes across Alaska (Kristine Froseth), a beautiful young woman who likes to break the rules but comes with her fair share of emotional baggage. 

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Alaska comes across as a free spirit who wants to live life to the fullest, but beneath the surface, there's a young woman who strives to be the best version of herself, but that doesn't mean she doesn't let her guard down. 

Froseth turns in a remarkable performance. Let's just say Looking for Alaska gives this excellent actress a bigger platform to shine than she got on Netflix's The Society. 

Chip on Looking for Alaska

While Miles and Alaska may seem like the focal characters, there are a bunch of supporting characters thrown in that are needed to advance the story. 

Of the supporting players, Denny Love is another solid option as Chip. Miles and Chip make fast friends after it emerges that they will be sharing a room, and it's mostly down to Chip that Miles finds a way to have a close circle of friends. 

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Schwartz and Savage have accomplished something great here.

None of the characters feel one-dimensional. Instead, they all feel like they are bursting at the seams with storyline potential. 

Alaska's New Look

Looking for Alaska is certainly a different direction for the writing and producing partners, but it feels like a call back to their 2003-07 hit, The O.C.

From the music selection to the way the storylines are constructed, the similarities are there, and it's nice for them to return to that style of storytelling. 

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As things stand, Looking for Alaska is up there with Euphoria as the best teen drama of the year, and it's hard to imagine either of them being toppled in the final months of 2019. 

Over to you, TV Fanatics. 

Will you give Looking for Alaska a shot? 

Hit the comments below. 

The eight-episode series launches Friday on Hulu. 

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Review

Editor Rating: 4.25 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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