Summer is coming in hot, temps are rising, and our usual summer fun activities to beat the heat are, for the foreseeable future, all but canceled. But just because the current global pandemic has nixed any chances of us going to the beach with a big group of friends for the time being, thankfully Netflix has offered up a new binge-watch opportunity with Outer Banks that's almost as good as vibing in the water with all your friends.
Okay, so that might be a stretch since we've all been cooped up in our homes for months with no end in sight for the self quarantine and the thought of going the beach right now sounds totally thrilling. But if we have to stay inside for our — and everyone else's! — health and safety, at least YA series Outer Banks can give us the illusion of spending endless days in the sunshine, frolicking in the waves with an ice cold drink in hand and not a care in the world.
The 10-episode first season, now streaming, is the latest original teen drama from Netflix and it absolutely deserves your attention. Described as "a coming of age story," it really just gives you the perfect excuse to ogle a bunch of hot teens who are constantly in swimsuits like it's their second skin. Set in the beach vacation destination of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the island chain off the coast that's basically "paradise on Earth," the show follows a tight-knit group of local teens nicknamed the "Pogues" as they find themselves on a high-stakes treasure hunt in the aftermath of a hurricane at the start of the summer season.
When you push play on the series premiere, you think you're getting one show about forbidden romances and idyllic life in a vacation town. But as your binge-watch continues, you realize it becomes a completely new thing as the search for buried treasure ignites a murder mystery with lethal consequences.
So why should you make Outer Banks your next quaran-stream pick? Let EW count the ways:
1. The eye candy, duh
Okay, but did we mention the hot teens? Onscreen the characters are all under 18 but in real life the actors are in their early to late 20's. Take a sigh of relief, there's no need to feel weird about crushing on John B (Chase Stokes), JJ (Rudy Pankow), Pope (Jonathan Daviss), Kiara (Madison Bailey), Sarah (Madelyn Cline), Topper (Austin North), and all the other barely-clothed teens running around town. Go ahead and enjoy, guilt-free, the sight of them all constantly stripping down to jump in the water or just lounge around half-naked for no reason at all other than to show off their toned and bronzed physiques.
It also doesn't hurt that literally everyone on the cast has perfectly salt-swept hair from the ocean breeze, flawless skin despite all that sun exposure, and abs for days. Even when they sweat, they do it beautifully (i.e. not realistically). It's basically how you think you look after a day at the beach when you really look like a wet, smelly dog. This is the picture-perfect summer vacation of your dreams, literally.
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2. It helps beat the quarantine blues
Almost every frame of every scene brings that precious, gorgeous golden hour on the beach right to your living room. We have to stay inside, but thankfully we can live vicariously through these teens who spend their days boating around, surfing, and partying like they've never heard of a quarantine (because they haven't).
And for a show set in the southeast in the dead of summer, viewers get to dive deep into the world onscreen without having to endure the muggy humidity or millions of mosquito bites that normally come with an extended trip to that area. Again, this is what you always want your summer days to look and feel, without all the pesky annoyances that usually come with them.
3. It's really not what you think
Outer Banks is what Riverdale was in its glory days (and wishes it still was) — a soapy teen drama with romance and murder, all set to a great soundtrack. John B and his friends go off on a modern day treasure hunt quest to find (or avenge) his missing father and his lifelong mission to find a sunken ship full of gold off the coast of the Outer Banks. There's even a magical wizard who drops mysterious knowledge about the buried treasure introduced in an early episode. Sure, he may just be a creepy old man who lives in a lighthouse, but he serves the same purpose as a wise wizard, giving our heroes the information they need to go off on their quest with the location of the missing shipwreck.
There are dead bodies, corrupt cops, shady smugglers with guns, Department of Children and Family Services drama, and so much more. There's a literal Chekhov's gun introduced in the first episode that keeps popping up, and you just know it's going to cause some real damage later. Where the season starts, where it goes in the middle, and where it ends up are so unpredictable that you should just go along for the ride no matter where it takes you.
4. The romance
But we need to talk about the romance. Of course all these hot, mostly-naked teens can't keep their hands (and hormones) off each other. The central will-they-won't-they relationship is a wrong side of the tracks, star-crossed love story, but instead of the Montagues and Capulets it’s the Pogues vs. the Kooks.
The Pogues are the working class who live in The Cut on the south side of the OBX, and the Kooks are the rich other half living in the Figure Eight on the north side. Pogues are named after pogies, which are throwaway fish, the lowest member of the food chain used to catch larger fish. Kooks are named after the slang surfers use for privileged non-locals. It's a classic social class caste system with a modern, summer twist that impacts all the relationships on the show, and you'll find yourself getting lost in the fun of watching these beautiful teens chase each other in the midst of a life-or-death treasure hunt.
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5. The undying loyalty shared by the group of friends
If you, like the rest of the world, are getting more and more bummed as the weeks pass without getting to spend time with your best friends, watching the main Pogue foursome and their undying loyalty for each other is a great consolation prize. These friends would fight for each other, take a punch for each other, go to jail for each other, and straight up risk death for each other.
You'll get so swept up in their heartfelt bond that you won't even find yourself thinking, "But they're not six feet apart!" whenever they hug. And that's a true quarantine binge-watch miracle.