Netflix's Outer Banks Review: Bad teenagers hunt for treasure in a dumb series
A boring, overlong teenage adventure drama, sans the adventure
At a time when our TV channels have begun retelecasting old favourites, I stumbled upon Netflix's Outer Banks. I expected this teenage drama to be engaging and refreshing going by the promos, but my entire binge-watching exercise was only a harsh reminder that I shouldn't have turned my back on Chithi and Shaktimaan.
Starring: Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline, Madison Bailey, Jonathan Daviss and Rudy Pankow
Creators: Josh Pate, Jonas Pate and Shannon Burke
Streaming on: Netflix
If you think that's an overstatement, let me introduce you to the world of Outer Banks. Anybody can be anything here. All you need to do is stick to simple instructions. If you want to be the damsel in distress aka the heroine, just smile incessantly and if you hear thunder, immediately jump and hug the hero. If you want to be the bad guy, the bar is even lower. You only have to look straight into the camera for an extra three seconds with a dead expression. Kaboom! You are a dreadful villain now. The rules are that simple.
Other problems with Outer Banks include getting 22-year olds to play 16-year olds, only they look and act 27. It's pretty much an American version of our Student of The Year. Though the prime focus should have been on the treasure hunt, the writing is all over the place and what we get on screen is an unsuccessful crossbreed of Minnale (Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein in Hindi) and Thulluvadho Ilamai (minus the shirts and Ramesh Kanna).
For a major portion of the runtime, we see the teens chilling on beaches, relaxing on their island or taking peaceful siestas. Yet they've got nothing on the writers of the series when it comes to laziness. The family-like-best friends of the Pogues gang don't even bat an eyelid when their friend goes missing for days, characters conveniently appear out of nowhere, and whenever the plot refuses to move forward, a new character gets introduced, just like that.
Hunting treasure isn't the most lawful and noble thing to do. So, to keep the audience invested in the story, the protagonists must be sympathetic. But here, the protagonists are hooligans themselves, who invite trouble most of the time and show no respect for the feelings of others. How do you make a line look smaller without erasing it? It is simple, you draw a bigger line next to it. The writers apply the same principle here and introduce the evil, rich bully teens to make the heroes look less awful.
Binge-watching Outer Banks during quarantine, I couldn't stop drawing comparisons to our real world. While most of us are having the adventure of our lifetime to return home intact after buying groceries, these kids run around with cocaine and guns freely on a tiny island, like they own the cops. The obstacles they face on their way to the treasure seem simpler than our ludo games. I believe a lot of trouble would have been saved if they had adults with them who could keep them in strict, social isolation.