CREATED BY: Josh Pate, Jonas Pate and Shannon Burke
STARRING: Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline, Madison Bailey, Jonathan Daviss, Rudy Pankow, Austin North, Charles Esten and Drew Starkey
A group of teenagers from the wrong side of the tracks stumble upon a treasure map that unearths a long buried secret.
Outer Banks is set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina where we follow a group of blue-collared friends who live at The Cut and refer to themselves as Pogues, with the leader of them being John B., whose father is missing/presumed dead and was obsessed in locating the Royal Merchant, a vessel that sunk and vanished but is believed to have gone down with $400m worth of gold. As John B. and his friends find several clues to his father’s disappearance, which in turn might lead to them finding the Royal Merchant and its bounty, they must overcome being chased by the law, a wealthy, rival group from Figure Eight called the Kooks, as well as drugs, love, fighting and friendship.
While the opening episode has to do a lot of exposition about who’s who, the social class division between The Cut and the Figure Eight, as well as the history behind the Royal Merchant, it is easy to be engaged in the main storyline of these small group of friends getting together to go on this treasure hunt, particularly in when they’re trying to figure out one clue after another in their quest to find the Royal Merchant as well as learn more about John B’s fathers disappearance. While the series main hook is the treasure hunt, it does deal with the working class division of the community that the Pogues have grown up in and how vastly different it is in comparison to their higher-class counterparts of the Kooks and their community, even showing the difference within the communities in the aftermath of a hurricane. Resting mostly on the shoulders of a group of relative unknowns, I thought the young ensemble played their roles really well and between being relatable characters and their chemistry together is what will keep audiences engaged right through to the end. Chase Stokes is really strong in the lead as the lovable rogue John B. that makes it easy for the audience to root for him to figure out the origins behind his fathers disappearance and his hopes to find him again. Madelyn Cline is also really good as Sarah Cameron, the daughter of wealthy business owner in the area, Ward Cameron, and its her headstrong nature and moral compass being different from the rest of the ‘Kooks’ characters beside Kie that makes he stand out, as well as the relationship with John B. Madison Bailey is good as Kiara, the heart of the Pogues group. Jonathan Daviss is also good as Pope, the supposed brains of the group and what I particularly enjoyed of his arc was the interactions he had with his father (played by E. Roger Mitchell). The one that stood out to me the most however was Rudy Pankow as JJ, the hot-headed one of the group that makes some hard-choices that benefit those that he cares about and there’s the sub-plot of his abusive relationship with his father that provides Pankow with a lot of range to deal with in this season and I thought he nailed it.
The series feels reminiscent for adults that grew up watching teen dramas from the mid 2000’s (The OC, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl to name a few), I will say that the majority of the adult characters feel limited in comparison to what came before. In fairness, that’s more of a nitpick as they’re juggling alot of storylines amongst the young adults and whilst those shows from the past would’ve been twenty-two episode seasons (at the start at least), whereas this has ten episodes to have audiences riveted and satisfied with its conclusion, so certain characters are lost in the shuffle of the story (Kiara’s parents for one in comparison to the rest of the Pogues’s parents). I also felt that Madison Bailey’s Kiara also didn’t get as much to do overall in comparison to the rest of the Pogues in terms of sub-plots (John B.’s search for his father, JJ and his abusive father, Pope and the conflict he has with his father) other than turning down the boys advances. Though John B. tells the audiences in the narration of the pilot, Pope is the brains of the operation, and while we get to see his smarts at times, we also witness him make some really stupid decisions. In terms of the Kooks, Austin North’s Topper will feel too cartoony for some when we follow his journey through the course of the season (though I thought North played the part well), as well as Sarah’s brother Rafe who exists in the second half of the season to create a reaction from the audience everytime he’s on screen. As engaging as the main storyline is and the Pogues group in general, The last two episodes will stretch limits of last minute calls and the way it ends for a possible season two (I’m 90% sure there will be a second season) sort of feels anti-climatic for me personally.
Outer Banks has a specific target audience its going for with its storytelling in this season and for the most part, as nostalgic as people will say it is compared to other teen dramas of the past, I think it nails what it sets out to do and thats due to the main storyline and the performances from the young cast, particularly Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline, Madison Bailey, Jonathan Daviss and Rudy Pankow.