Outer Banks: Does Netflix’s New Drama Live Up To Its Hype?

Eileen Lincoln, Editorial Board

Courtesy of Clay Banks on Unsplash

Since its release date on April 15th, the Netflix show Outer Banks has become one of the most popular shows on the platform: with shots of endless summer days, salty ocean waves and the feeling of not having a care in the world demonstrating what everyone is longing for during these months of self-isolation. The show is set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, a chain of islands along the coast famous for their small-town vibe and pretty beaches, making them a popular tourist destination. The ten episode series displays a sun-dappled setting filled with attractive teens, suspenseful mysteries, and dynamic relationships between characters. While many aspects of this show may seem familiar, it still maintains a thrilling storyline that leaves the audience on the edge of their seats, allowing it to gain its massive popularity and binge-worthy characteristics.

The show is centered around seventeen year old John B. Rutledge, who after his father’s disappearance enlists his three best friends to search for an esteemed treasure in the middle of the sea. John B and his friends JJ, Kiara, and Pope are known as the “Pogues” in the Outer Banks: the poorer, outsiders of the island infamous for never following authority. The other portion of the island consists of the Kooks: wealthier families, such as John B’s love interest Sarah Cameron and her father Ward Cameron, who also displays interest in the life-changing treasure. Many of the Kooks come off as extremely arrogant in the series: consistently doing everything they can to irritate and disrupt the Pogues, such as Sarah’s boyfriend Topper and his group of friends.

While the plotline may seem simple, it contains many twists and turns that develop the uniqueness of the series. While the idea of searching for lost treasure may seem unrealistic, there are still ways viewers are able to connect to characters and feel as if they are along for the captivating events. Many times in the show, the Pogues seem to reach a dead end: being at a loss of clues or hitting some sort of obstacle, yet evidence always pops up again and puts them right back on track. The storyline is created to make it seem as if the group is always one step away from finding the treasure, yet they continue to run into problems and never seem to get the easy way out of things.

One of the ways that this show has gained so much popularity is through its accurate representation of teenage relationships. A primary example of this is the realisticness of John B’s friend group, with the mix of every distinct personality frequently clashing with one another. However, some of the personality types featured in this show are overused and stereotypical, causing an ultimate lack of development within individuals. Pope, for instance, is painted out as the smart and morally righteous member of the group: the writers never making him go a few lines without bringing up his merit scholarship or potential for his future. This is similar with Kiara too, who although she is wealthy continues to hang out with the Pogues and consistently makes an effort to justify her position within the group. Other than her environmental consciousness and hatred for the Kooks, she barely has any other defying characteristics. Even with John B, although he is a more well-rounded character, he makes no significant change in the course of the series until the last few episodes.

While the first few episodes of the show were a little dull: being a bit slow-paced, without any major events or plot twists, it begins to pick up speed as the show continues. The introduction to the series was not extremely enticing, yet established background information about all of the characters and the premise of the show. It isn’t until around Episode 5, in which John B and Sarah’s relationship truly begins to blossom, that the show becomes completely addictive. With police chases, drugs, murders and mysteries, so many conflicts occur that the audience is constantly left in suspense. John B and Sarah really shaped into the stars of the show, with their amazing chemistry and overall likeableness fueling an intense and emotional relationship with one another. With the ending of the series, viewers are left rooting for the Pogues as they face many obstacles and reach an anxiety-provoking finale to the first season.

Our mission this summer is to have a good time, all the time”

— John B, Outer Banks

Although the plot of Outer Banks may not be the most original concept, the sense of adventure and thrill this series demonstrates is why so many people around the world are falling in love with it. Especially during times like these: in which everyone is forced to stay home for weeks or potentially months at a time, this show portrays the illusion that we are alongside the Pogues, being out in the warm sun all day and having the time of our lives with the people we cherish most. In times of uncertainty and worry, this series reminds people to have hope for these beautiful, summer days and when life will be able to return back to the way it was.