The Pogue’s are back! The popular Netflix series, “Outer Banks”, is built around adventure-seeking teens who embark on a treasure hunt and like most teen shows, there is no shortage of drama, romance, and action. Set in Outer Banks of North Carolina, the story follows 16-year-old John B (Chase Stokes) and his group of friends, Kiara (Madison Bailey), Pope (Johnathan Daviss) and JJ (Rudy Pankow), otherwise known as the “Pogue’s”. More simply, this term was coined to divide the poor kids from the rich kids (the Kooks); this class segregation giving the show a very modern Romeo and Juliet vibe – especially when John B falls in love with Kook princess Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline).
The below paragraphs may contain mild spoilers for Season 1. No spoilers for Season 2.
The first season, released in April 2020 focused heavily on the mysterious disappearance of John B’s father who went missing while on the search for half a billion dollars in gold. While searching for clues that could lead to his father’s whereabouts, the kids find themselves picking up where he left off and carrying out this epic treasure hunt that, of course, entails endless amounts of trouble. The intense finale saw fugitive John B and Sarah Cameron in a police chase amidst a thundering sea storm. Just as the two manage to escape, the teens are swept up in a hurricane that “kills” them.
Then, with seemingly no room for it to one-up itself, they hinted a possible second season as the final few minutes saw John B and Sarah on their way to the Bahamas. This was where Sarah’s father, Ward, had sent the stolen gold for safe keeping, and Season 2 picks up right where we left it. So, what better way to kick off a new season by having the main character tell the audience that “everyone you know will die”. The tone does match poor John B’s predicament and with a rather large bounty on his head, John B is determined to get back the gold. No longer separated by the social hierarchy of their Outer Banks bubble, Sarah has renounced her family to side with the “Pogues”, even if that means being on the run with fugitive John B who is labelled as a criminal for a crime he did not commit. Meanwhile, back at home, the rest of the gang are trying their best to clear John B’s name when mid-season they discover yet another treasure worth $500 million that this time is tied to Pope – convenient, right?
Nevertheless, all the coincidences aside, I’m not usually the one for cliché teen shows and yet this show had a good few unforgettable assets that made it the best series I’ve watched in a while. Conflict is extremely easy to come by in this fictional world, but that’s where all the fun lies. Getting from Point A to B would be too easy and would fail to fill the episode’s 50-minute run-time, so naturally, every complication for the Pogue’s feels like a life-threatening issue, even when it is just a minor inconvenience. Given it is a teen show, so of course, complications are exaggerated and sometimes things work out a little too conveniently for some characters, but it is all set at a different pace and the twists and turns are amazing.
Additionally, there are performances from particular characters that best encapsulate how “Outer Banks” succeeds amongst all the other teen shows. Sarah’s father Ward goes from your normal disapproving parent to a ruthless criminal mastermind in the blink of an eye. Through this hyperactive change, Ward has managed to match the show’s intensity as we watch him spiral into utter desperation. Ultimately, he wants the gold to keep his family wealthy as they end up on the brink of bankruptcy, but he is also adamant about having Sarah back. Of course, he can’t have both and the audience watch this man come apart, Charles Esten (Ward) putting on a brilliant performance as you have no idea what he might do next to get what he wants. Some of the most jaw-dropping moments came from this character’s actions alone.
Of course, the show’s greatest asset is still the Pogue’s and as a unit, there’s something about them that is intensely exciting and magnetic. Yes, this group can be termed as “less than logical” but granted they are teenagers who have mostly absentee parents. Some of their choices are frankly stupid, but this innocent and reckless behaviour works in the show’s favour. How one group of teens can find themselves in so much drama is a question we continue to ask as they get caught in a series of shootouts, conspiracies, and deaths, but as they fight over drugs, power, and treasure, you’ve finished the season before you even realise. It’s commendable how the series successfully raises the stakes and keeps you entertained from start to finish.
Despite the elements that may seem outrageous, the cast manages to make it feel real as the performances are all spectacular. Plus, I’ve seen a lot of teen shows with the same plot lines and settings and “Outer Banks” is admirably against that status quo for the most part. Romance does still manage to find a way to take up some time amid the action, but it’s the portrayal of unwavering friendship and loyalty that lies at the heart of this addictive series. This becomes an even more explicit mission quest than it was in the first season and the season almost reminds you of “The Goonies” with an “Indiana Jones” vibe. The chases on both land and sea are conducted impressively as the Pogue’s battle everything from psychopathic siblings, to rising tides to wasp’s nest.
As JJ says, “stupid things have positive outcomes all the time” and all the fun and outlandish adventure these kids get themselves into is addictive to watch. I would absolutely recommend this to everyone, especially since the season finale had me off my chair. With an allusion to the third season, I can’t wait for this show to continue.