‘Outer Banks’: Faux-Teens, Family, and the Search for Treasure

As with a majority of teen dramas, the actors portraying the teens of ‘Outer Banks’ are in their 20s with Chase Stokes being the oldest of the main troupe at 27! Stokes’ John B. is a 16-year-old headed to foster care after the disappearance of his father who was looking for the gold from an old sea-wreck. He lives on the poor side of the Outer Banks and runs with his Pogues. There’s plenty of teen drug use and violence, with fists and the occasional gun being used to solve problems. There are also a couple of scenes of teen sex, but they don’t get too graphic. Clothes remain mostly in place.

As a show, Outer Banks is adept at raising tensions and giving you characters that might do anything. No one is basically good. Even though many of their actions may be fairly motivated, every character engages in something illegal and/or morally questionable. The cuts from show to show encourage binge-watching as they leave you hanging for an outcome.

John B.’s obsession leads to some surprising moments and some headscratchers. Some characters and plot points seem to be left behind, but they get picked back up again. There’s plenty of action in and around the “Outer Banks.” (Spoiler Alert: There will be spoilers after the trailer.)

The treasure hunt is used as something to hang themes of money and family onto a coherent plot. While the show plays fast and loose with the knowledge the teens have (clearly, they don’t watch many movies) it’s even looser with their morality. The heroes steal from an old lady and others, drink and smoke pot almost constantly, and lie to each other, themselves, and everyone else.

All about the Benjamins

With $400 million on the line, they have a strange discussion about how they’re going to split it when one of the crew brings in a new person for specialized information and relationship reasons. Maybe the biggest problem is that it’s not that hard to believe that some people would quibble over the difference between $80 million and $100 million, but for the kids from the wrong side of the island, both numbers would be too large to even imagine. Any one of them would have been happy with $100,000 before the discovery of the wreck.

It never occurs to them that the historical significance of the wreck and the information they found would be priceless for their community, which may be understandable because the community has never done anything for them. Still, turning their findings over would’ve been accompanied by fame, possible scholarships, and none of the hardships associated with finding that much money, trying to figure out how to cash it and avoid the notice of the IRS. “Hey, poor kid! Where’d you get that yacht?” Maybe moving to Mexico would help, but $400 million in gold bars…

We Are Family

Every family example, from blood to chosen, is broken. John B. is an orphan, and foster care figures into the first part of the series and once later when its convenient to throw up a roadblock. J.J. is abused by his father. Pope’s family loves him, but his father also does a lot of yelling and gets physical with him. Kie’s parent seem to be the most well-adjusted. The problem is that we never see any of the parents on the protagonist side. Where are they while their teens are running around the island, late at night, and missing for days at a time?

The antagonist side isn’t much better. The one real family we see is not what it seems from the outset. The older brother uses drugs, and the younger sister (13 years old; the actress is 17) gets so drunk she pukes into a toilet and says she learned never to mix vodka and Crystal Light, which is kind of funny if you don’t think about the age of the character. The teens on both sides of the island are on their own with the parents supplying money, convenience, and drama when the story needs it.

Even the family groups the teens form are broken. On the rich side, they exist to encourage beating up those from the poor side and to get wasted. On the poor side, they are relegated to providing love triangles and drugs, but they are loyal to one another. “Outer Banks” seems to be of the opinion that loyalty is the strongest bond between family members, and its lack or misplaced actions related to it have terrible consequences