Every element of Looking for Alaska is in service to this unknown tragedy. Each episode provides new insight about Miles, The Colonel, Alaska, and the people around them. We learn about their addictions, their mental health, their family lives—all through an objective, non-judgmental lens that will make people feel seen. You soon get a picture of how these characters might react to a crisis.
“Much of this story is asking really important questions that I think all young people are asking that aren’t necessarily surface things,” Plummer tells Glamour. “I think that’s what was so incredible for me when I first read the book: I was reading a story about young people dealing with the idea of death and not really knowing what the answer to that question is. They’re really asking it and having real conversations and also being faced with it. I think everybody goes through that at one point in their life, where they lose somebody that’s really close to them or go through a really tragic experience.”
Everybody does experience trauma or loss at some point in their lives, but to go through that as a teenager is an entire thing altogether. It’s a strange stage in life when young people are asserting their independence for the first time but still have a ways to go. Looking for Alaska does an excellent job at tapping into what it’s like to process something so adult at such a young age.
“It’s just that point in time where you’re really owning up to the responsibility of, ‘OK, I’m going to be an adult now, and I’m going to have to get through things that are difficult,'” Plummer says. “I think the first time you’re really having to do that on your own, especially as an independent person, is always challenging and scary.”
Adds Forseth, “Don’t judge a book by its cover. We’re all going through our own stuff. And having friends and having that support and ultimately reaching out for help is so important.”
Looking for Alaska is not without its moments of levity, though. Yes, there is a devastating incident at the center of it, but so much of what you’ll watch feels akin to a John Hughes movie. When Miles arrives to the boarding school, he’s looking for new experiences, and he finds them—and so do Alaska and the Colonel. Throughout the show they experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex. There are breakups and fights and makeups, all the staples of what makes a compelling teen TV show. At times, the show is even funny—filled quippy lines and cheeky banter. It’s the complete package, really.