On Netflix, there is a noticeable difference between a show that is great (see: Stranger Things) and one that is simply good (see: All-American). The streaming service’s latest offering, Outer Banks, tends to fall on the “good” side of things.
Like the fish in the waters that the protagonists frequent, the viewer is hooked from the start. Netflix continues using their tried-and-true method of casting previously unknown twenty-something models as teens ten years their junior.The main character, sixteen year old John B., is played by a 27 year old Chase Stokes. Was there really no one that was 20 that could have been cast instead in order to make it a little more believable? However, fans who have gotten used to high schoolers like Peter Kavinsky and Spencer James will overlook this.
The show focuses on John B. (always John B., never just John) and his friends, known as the Pogues, a group that spends their time hanging out in the best secret spots around the island, throwing beach parties and evading the cops. They have a deeply-ingrained hatred for the Kooks, the country club-attending, two house-owning elite from the other side of the island. One Kook family in particular is the Camerons, a wealthy clan that includes daughter Sarah (played by 22 year old Madeline Cline), who becomes intertwined with John B.
The plot gets going when the group stumble upon a sunken boat after a hurricane hits the island. This is the first clue that John B. has in his quest to find his father, a treasure hunter that mysteriously disappeared nine months prior.
The group is after the $400 million in British gold that was lost in a shipwreck in the 1800s.They encounter plenty of obstacles on their path to fortune, which help the show get some depth and allow for murkiness around the identity of the main villain.
In terms of character development, most of what John B. has to deal with is about his desire to avenge his father’s death. His friends deal with other issues, like an abusive dad and the pressure to get into a good college to escape the blue-collar work of being a Pogue.
While the relationship that inevitably forms between John B. and Sarah is dreamy for the first few episodes, towards the end it becomes too labored and hard to believe. Parts of the last episode in particular make one want to think of the beginning of Disney’s Bolt, where they cut the scene and the special effects stop and then the characters go back to normal.
Based on the way that the producers wrap up the show, it is clear that Netflix envisions this as a multiseason endeavor. Judging by the fact that it has been in the Top 10 most popular shows on the streaming service since it premiered on April 15, it seems that this is a good bet.
The show delivers in that it makes the viewer want to pull on their favorite half-buttoned shirt, tie a bandana around their neck and go hang out with their friends around a fire on the beach. This type of nostalgic, no-phones- needed type of fun is what everyone is looking for right now, especially as screen time skyrockets.
The area where the show truly shines is in the writing. The viewer gets caught up in a world of summer and freedom, a couple of items that sound pretty good to those stuck at home right now. It also provides an Outer Banks where instead of playing putt putt and going to touristy boardwalks in order to catch the sunset, you get to escape into the lives of the locals, traveling by boat to evade the bad guys instead of crammed into your family’s minivan on the way to the Captain Craig’s Crab Shack.
The first few episodes all end on a cliffhanger, which makes it so that the precious seconds before Netflix autoplays the first episode seem like an afterthought. Before you know it, you’re halfway through the season, already caught up in the twists and turns of life in the Outer Banks, the element that the show is great at.