Outer Banks

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Outer Banks TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Slick teen mystery drama series is an edgy guilty pleasure.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 37 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 146 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The story’s action is advanced by the teens’ blatant disregard for rules and willingness to break both laws and social constructs, but as events unfold, it is clear that no one -- teen or adult -- is to be trusted anyway. There’s constant discord between the "haves" and the "have nots," and each speaks disparagingly about the other points fingers  for the ills of the world. That said, the bonds of friendship and loyalty that exist among John B and his friends are very appealing, cross those socioeconomic barriers, and provide a sense of safety in a world that is fraught with dangers both visible and hidden. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most adults are suspect for one reason or another, leading the teens to trust their friends exclusively. Though their actions usually involve the lawlessness and living by their own rules, they do so to solve the mystery of John B's father's disappearance and to keep a lucrative treasure out of the hands of villains who intend harm on those who stand in their way.


Teens scrap in a fistfight that ends with the near drowning of one. JJ brandishes a gun he stole from a crime scene and threatens a peer with it to save his friend’s life. Several scenes show the teens being chased by two men who shoot at them and threaten their lives. A dead body is shown floating in the marsh. JJ kills a chicken by breaking its neck. 


Teens kiss, and there are several make-out scenes, including one in which the boy undresses the girl to her bra, and it's implied that sex follows. Mention of a blowjob and a circle-jerk. Girls wear revealing swimsuits that show cleavage and are cut high on the thighs.


Frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch, "a--hole," "hell," "Jesus Christ," "p---y," and "bastard." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink beer and mixed drinks at every opportunity. Smoking, though less common, is shown as well. Some drug use, including teens snorting cocaine onscreen.  

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Outer Banks is a teen drama about a local mystery and the young people trying to solve it. It's on the edgy side, with lots of strong language, underage drinking and smoking, and generally illegal behavior by minors. Everything goes as far as language is concerned: "F--k," "a--hole," "s--t, and the like are used frequently among both teens and adults. Perhaps thanks to a lack of adult supervision, teen characters also drink a lot and do drugs -- at parties, while they boat, and even first thing in the morning. Most adults' loyalties are suspect at best, which helps the teens justify their rebellious actions. Expect some physical contact between young couples, partial nudity, and the implication of teen sex. That said, for mature viewers, this intense drama is a binge-worthy watch with sharp writing and intriguing themes that touch on socioeconomic prejudice.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12, 13, and 14-year-old Written byOwen14 April 26, 2020


This series is a gripping and highly entertaining show that I would recommend to anyone over the of of 11-12. Outside some swearing and occasional kissing scene... Continue reading
Adult Written bykarensmith.79 April 23, 2020


I recently finished this show with my 12 year old daughter and we both loved it. There are a few kissing scenes but nothing escalated. There are drugs being con... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byuncledyldylbird June 17, 2020

Kids can watch this

This show is amazing I just finished the series and I loved it. Can't wait for another season. There are a few things about this that makes it on the TV-14... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bymacaroon_cat May 2, 2020

amazing characters with well thought out plot

this show should honestly not be rated 15+. Compared to a lot of other movies and tv shows in that category, it’s no where near as bad. Outer Banks is a really... Continue reading

What's the story?

In OUTER BANKS, it's been close to a year since John B (Chase Stokes) has seen or heard from his father, but he refuses to give up hope that he will return. When he and his friends make a discovery that draws them into a local murder mystery, clues begin to reveal what might have happened to his father and what he left for his son in the event hat he didn’t return. As John B, JJ (Rudy Pankow), Pope (Jonathan Daviss), and Kiara (Madison Bailey) try to make sense of it all, they find themselves trailed by two men who will stop at nothing to find out what the teens know, monitored by local police with uncertain motives, and unsure who to trust as they’re swept up in the mystery of a local shipwreck legend.

Is it any good?

This edgy teen drama has the suck-you-in power of a top-of-the-line Dyson vacuum, and it just doesn’t let go once it has you. When first we meet John B, it’s tempting to dislike his chronic disregard for authority and his insistence on pulling his friends into the fray despite what repercussions might fall on them. As his story evolves, however, he becomes more sympathetic, helped mostly by the ginormous target affixed to his back after stumbling into a deadly mystery and refusing to give up on solving it once he discovers his dad’s involvement. Suddenly this rebellious teen and the clues he unwittingly holds becomes Outer Banks’s most wanted, and former allies turn suspect on a dime. 

Outer Banks is an engrossing escape, especially for those with time to binge watch because it’s so difficult to stop at just one episode. It’s sharply written around not just intriguing characters but also relevant themes related to socioeconomic disparity and prejudice. As John B lays it out, the community has two distinct classes: the well-off Kooks and the working-class Pogues. As tensions play out between the different groups, he and his friends symbolize the greater community tensions and, in the case of Kiara especially, the challenging of those same stereotypes. Parents and older teens who watch together can discuss these issues as they relate to their own communities and experiences.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Outer Banks presents its teen characters. Do you find their general experiences realistic? Are they meant to be? Does entertainment have to reflect real life to be appealing, or is the escape from reality the draw?

  • In what ways is John B a flawed hero? Can you look past his bad behavior to see the good in him? Does your ability to do so change as the story evolves? Are "perfect" characters more appealing as heroes? What character strengths do you see in him? 

  • John B is skeptical of most adults and their motives. Given his experiences, is he right to feel that way? Do any adults surprise him and change his ability to trust? 

  • Families can talk about class differences. How do they affect life in Outer Banks? Do you see any of these issues happening in your own community?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate