I decided to not watch the trailer for Hulu’s “Looking for Alaska” until I had finished watching the first episode. I wanted to go into the series not knowing anything about the show.
The first episode opens with a car crash scene, we know that there has been a major accident (it could even be fatal), we don’t yet know who was driving or the circumstances. The opening scene made me think that maybe this might turn into a crime drama, and that this Alaska girl goes missing.
After watching the first episode I felt like I was entering a familiar world; the outcast group. Almost always consisting of at least one emotionally troubled girl, one black guy, and two to three other white male nerds. I feel like Hulu had an opportunity to mix up the stereotypical group, as it is already commonly found in the IT movies, Neflix’s “Stranger Things” and again on Netflix’s “Sex Education”. After watching the first episode, I was left not expecting much character development from the main cast, as their characters seemed overused.
Although the main characters were all introduced in this episode, I did not feel like we got enough background information on them; considering the episode was 50 minutes long. We in fact also do not learn much about the main protagonists Miles. We know that he moved to Alabama to study away from his parents and did not have many friends growing up. It quickly becomes almost to evident that his obsession for main words seems to be his most emphasised trait. Could this be foreshadowing something?
After completing episode 1, I have now watched the trailer. I quickly learned that the Hulu series is based on the book “Looking For Alaska” which is banned in some schools.
The character development starts to pick up quite quickly towards the end of the series, we see more of a focus on the male emotional state rather than the typical “Girl with Emotions” series. I think that this was a smart choice for the producers to make, as evidently the show is about the guys trying to understand both themselves and Alaska.
What we have seen before?
We have pretty much seen Alaska before, she perfectly fitted the boot of the feminist outcast that was too smart for her own peers. These sort of characters are usually ahead of there time, and feel as if they are much older than they actually are. With her tomboy dress sense, she only has a selected group of friends who truly know the real her.
We have defiantly seen Miles before. Like in many other teen shows, he plays the loveably nerd, who is in experienced in love and gets just a little to obsessed with his female best friend.
What could have been done better?
Because the show is based on a book, there is only so much that the the producers can change. However I feel like we should have been able to learn more about what was going to happen to Alaska from the start. Showing us hints and clips, even as basic as showing her flowers at the crash site halfway through the series could have been a strong choice.
This could have got us thinking from the earlier on, “what is going to happen to Alaska?” “Is she in that same location?” “where was she going?” “are her friends with her?”. Showing as little as a shot an episode could have made the us audience feel more connected with her disappearance.