“Outer Banks” is the newest teen drama that was released on Netflix and gained a mass of teen following since its release on April 15, 2020. Appropriate to the name of the show, “Outer Banks” takes place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and tells the story of what happens when you mix class warfare, treasure hunts and rebellious, hormonal teenagers.
The main characters are the Pogues, blue-collar kids who often clash with rich kids who are referenced as their rivals, the Kooks. “Outer Banks” is narrated by Pogue John B (Chase Stokes) as he tells the story of finding out the truth about his father’s disappearance and continuing the hunt for $400 million worth of gold that allegedly sunk on the Royal Merchant, a ship that vanished in 1829. Because of his father’s disappearance and his uncle’s secret residence on the mainland, John B lacks adult supervision and spends all of his time with his group of friends, JJ (Rudy Pankow) the abused son of a drunk, Pope (Johnathan Davis) the smart recipient of a scholarship and Kiara (Madison Bailey) the Kook who prefers to spend her times with the Pogues.
John B and his friends often clash with the Kooks more than most teenagers normally clash with each other. The main Kooks that we see in “Outer Banks” are composed of Sarah (Madelyn Cline), the arch-nemesis of Kiara who can be seen as the leader of the Kooks, and Topper (Austin North) the obsessive boyfriend of Sarah whose grudge against the Pogues often runs too deep.
As John B begins to find clues related to his father’s disappearance he loops in his friends on what’s occurred as well as the possibility that his father may have actually been close to solving what happened to the Royal Merchant. However, it takes quite a few episodes for the plot to actually begin and John B is the sole focus of the series.. JJ and Pope are often getting harrassed by the Kooks, and one day while Pope is running groceries to the residents, Pope is jumped by Topper and his friend which causes him to sink the Cameron boat. When Pope is about to be arrested for this, JJ selflessly jumps in to take the fall and save Pope and his scholarship from being ruined. When JJ is picked up from the police station, his abusive father severely beats JJ, leaving noticeable gashes and bruises on the teenager. His friends barely notice and the repeated violence is not reported as they are instead focusing on helping John B.
In addition, none of the friends are worried about Pope’s major scholarship except for Pope and, at times, JJ. Pope is often left talking about how some of their actions could jeopardize his scholarship to which Kiara often responds something along the lines of “what about John B?”. The intense disregard for the wellbeing of JJ as well as the future of Pope is one of the things that is just brushed off and takes away from a lot of the reality of the situation. This could be attributed to a lack of character development or simply just repeated errors that were not corrected. While this is a noticeable problem, there is also noticeable chemistry between the four friends. They genuinely feel like close friends who love and would do anything for each other as they are often risking things that they should not.
The first season is 10 episodes long, many of which feel unimportant and similar to filler. It is not until the last three episodes that the show really takes off as John B finds out what really happened to his father, who is responsible for the story of the gold. The plot tries to make itself more complicated than it truly is, and John B makes a series of reckless decisions, including eventually falling for Sarah, which complicates the season tenfold. The show could have easily been shortened to five episodes if all of the scenes that had no impact were to be removed.
Even with all of that said, “Outer Banks” is a still quality watch on Netflix. It plays with viewers' emotions as they go from anger, sadness and happiness as the main characters and their choices play out on the screen. However, much of the sadness comes from JJ’s storyline and not much else, easily making JJ the most sympathetic character.
If there would have been more of an attempt to share other storylines besides just John B’s adventure for love and his extreme dedication to finishing what his father started, then “Outer Banks” would have easily been a better watch. Little is known about Kiara or Pope and JJ is often just the abused character that lashes out waving around a gun to protect his friends. This causes it to feel like John B and Sarah are truly the only main characters, while Kiara, Pope and JJ are left to feel like supporting characters.
Overall, “Outer Banks” receives a 6 out of 10 stars mostly because of the lack of character depth and the plot that was over complicated for what it truly was. “Outer Banks” is available for streaming on Netflix.