Outer Banks is an eye-opening teen drama that touches on several important issues. Presenting these topics in the format of a Netflix series makes it easier for audiences to open a dialogue about them. No matter how complicated the issue may be, fans are grateful to Outer Banks for touching upon them.
‘Outer Banks’ addresses family abuse
J.J. (Rudy Pankow), doesn’t have the best relationship with his father — an alcoholic and drug addict who leaves J.J. no one to turn to in his time of need. As his father’s condition worsens, J.J. quickly becomes a loose cannon. “He’s a master at portraying his emotions differently,” Pankow explained to HollywoodLife.
Throughout season 1, things only seem to get worse within J.J.’s personal life. His relationship with his father directly impacts the way he treats others. “[J.J.] knows how to manipulate people and how they view him,” Pankow said. “I think that’s also a fault to himself. When he’s feeling one thing, he’s really feeling another, and that throughout the season breaks down.” J.J.’s eventual breakdown is tough to witness, but a genuine reality for many people. Pankow’s ability to capture the damage such abuse can do opens the door for audiences to have open and honest conversations about abuse.
The class divide hits way too close to home
In the fictional Outer Banks, Kooks are the affluent members of society, while Pogues are the working class. To John B, Kooks are “rich trustafarian posers” and the natural-born enemies of the Pogues, who “make a living busing tables, washing yachts, [and] running charters.”
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Fortunately, in real life, the Outer Banks don’t have such a class divide. “I don’t know of a giant divide that’s clear, as they portray it on the TV show,” Outer Banks local Brent Nultemeier explained to Esquire. However, just because the class divide isn’t as exaggerated in reality doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In some ways, the social gap between the Kooks and the Pogues can be viewed as a direct reflection of what’s going on in the world today.
‘Outer Banks’ displays how drug addiction can ruin lives
During season 1, Rafe Cameron (Drew Starkey) becomes involved in the world of drugs. As his addiction to cocaine worsens, so does his involvement in the dealing of the drug. “I actually do know people who are going through some of these hardships,” Starkey said. “The show hopefully succeeds in letting them know that they’re not going through it alone. That other people are facing the same challenges, and that it’s okay to struggle.”
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Family doesn’t always mean blood
Most of the Pogues have broken relationships with their families or no relationship at all because their parents aren’t in the picture. Regardless of their familial layout, the Pogues know that they can always count on each other in their time of need.
This is another aspect many fans can relate to. “When you find those people in your life, it makes the harder times a lot easier to bear,” North Carolina native Jaidee Elliot told the Coastal Review. “It makes the good times seem more special than they would’ve been if you had been by yourself.”
Multi-dimensional characters make it easy to cover tough issues
It’s one thing to mention these issues in a popular series, but it’s an entirely different thing to have actors on board who are willing to go above and beyond to do these issues justice. “The show is very aware of the stereotypes that were in place but then left it very open to [a] genuine interpretation of how each character (or) actor would deal with the conflict,” Pankow explained in an interview.
Stripping the characters of their stereotypes and forcing them to deal with real-life situations made them more accessible for viewers. Instead of depicting the teen stereotypes traditionally found in teen dramas, Starkey says their goal was always to be truthful. Viewers have taken note of that, and commend the cast for it.
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