‘Outer Banks’ shifts from unrealistic to outlandish

Suspension of disbelief has its limits


The show “Outer Banks” was never meant to be realistic or groundbreaking. The main premise is a group of attractive teens, who call themselves “the pogues,” finding buried treasure and working through relationship drama. The Netflix series serves as a perfect escape from reality, but with season three’s release, the show has gone from a plot that can be followed and just believable enough to be feasible, to leaving the audience questioning what the show is supposed to be.

Suspension of disbelief is when an audience can ignore realism and accept certain terms of a plot in order to enjoy whatever they are viewing. For example, in Harry Potter movies and books, even though viewers know spells aren’t real and there is no such thing as flying brooms, they can accept that in Hogwarts these things are real, and they can bend their reality in order to enjoy the media. 

In “Outer Banks,” one can acknowledge that the idea of high schoolers going on insane adventures in order to find missing treasure is completely unrealistic, but ignore this fact to enjoy the show. The issue is that the show goes from seeming impossible in seasons one and two to completely improbable in season three, which can break the suspension of disbelief. 

Like any highly funded Netflix series, there is an expectation for stakes to be raised each season. “Outer Banks” season three certainly succeeded in this mission. With a bigger treasure, antagonist and location, this season kept viewers on their toes. While the third season succeeds with thrilling twists and turns during the last few episodes, it also leaves many questions. 

In the first few episodes of season three, the group of teens escapes an island guarded by the main antagonist. ​​After being shot at, chased by dogs and nearly killed several times, the youths remain unscratched. This instantly sets the precedent that there is little at stake for the pogues, and it makes the audience care less when watching action scenes because the main characters feel untouchable. 

The last two episodes of the season feel more like an Indiana Jones movie than what the show was originally supposed to be. Rhymes and riddles have always been an aspect of the show, but when did the show turn from a somewhat plausible treasure hunt to one that involves magic? Because the show never seems to set up any kind of supernatural world, this breaks the suspension of disbelief. 

This kind of error can be observed when shows are trying to continue when they are not set up to be over a few seasons. Another popular Netflix series, Riverdale, for example, went from a fascinating murder mystery to a complete disaster because the show continued when it shouldn’t have. 

In order for “Outer Banks” to stop going in the wrong direction, the show should resort to plot twists, family drama and relationship drama rather than unrealistic and corny action scenes. A supernatural universe was never what the show was intended to be. Moving the plot along with other devices might be beneficial to not breaking viewers’ suspension of disbelief. Finally, the show needs to reach a conclusive ending soon. These “youths,” who are actually actors in their late 20s and 30s, cannot be in high school and treasure hunting forever. If a solid ending is made sooner than later, it will feel much more satisfying.