Journey to the Outer Banks: How a potentially irrelevant Netflix show might save America

I don’t have much time to spend on social media these days, but over the past couple of weeks when I did indulge in Instagram, TikTok, or twitter, I only saw one thing: John B.

After much internal debate, I caved. I had to know who this John B was and why everyone is so obsessed with him. I watched the show.

The story is instantly both incredibly cheesy and intriguing: a hot teen facing foster homes due to his dad's death stumbles upon a homicide with his “pouge” friends (think lower class, coastal bros). A $400 million lost treasure is at stake. There’s abuse, guns, fights, burning of things, boats, crazy love triangles, a compass, and extreme classism. Pretty much the ultimate story, if you can suspend reality for the 10 hours of content.

Fortunately for Netflix, lots of people are willing to suspend reality right now. With quarantine stress at an all-time high, people are willing to watch anything to escape their monotonous, frustratingly shitty lives.

I don’t love the show, but Chase Stokes almost makes up for its shortcomings. But America loves this show. Here’s why:

  1. Americans, like John B, are being squeezed into space they don’t fit into. As the show progresses, John B’s freedom becomes more and more limited. He feels stuck, unsafe, confused, and generally depressed at his situation. I imagine this is how many people stuck at home right now feel.
  2. Like many popular franchises (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc) a treasure hunt fills a void for people at home. This allows people to be and experience another place for a short time. Their desire for adventure is satiated with the Outer Banks story.
  3. JJ’s struggle for love is relatable. Though taken to an extreme, many people have felt that same angst against their parents. It’s heartbreaking to see a kid struggle so terribly, and quite frankly Rudy Pankow’s acting is terrific. It’s one of those so-horrible-you’re-intrigued type of thing.
  4. Raves’ (Ray? Refe? I never understood his name) story is a cautionary tale of America’s future. Lack of love, purpose, and empowering guidance led to Rave's ultimate cry for help: killing the local sheriff. He didn’t kill for family or honor, as one might think, but to prove himself to himself. He was so desperate to be acknowledged by his dad, who constantly put him down, that he killed another human to legitimize himself. Beyond that, he did feel guilt but never faced it because the blame went to someone else. It’s horrible and sad, and the actor did a fantastic job of displaying his soul breaking internal dialogue without ever mentioning it. Call it a stretch, but America is in the same boat. As people become angry with their situation and the government, society strays further and further from peace (please note: it’s not wrong to be angry at the government, it’s just something I notice lots of people are upset about and blaming right now). Being angry involves inherent bias. Decisions will be made slightly unconsciously, and as people become trapped they become more desperate, relying on more and more extreme measures to feel like they are in control. Angry people get taken advantage of.

Unless people continue to treat each other with respect, kindness, and love, I do not see the world becoming anything more than a maddening place to exist. Fortunately, I found that it is difficult to really love anything until you love yourself. Everyone can start there.

The world as we know it has so much potential. I see the potential for immeasurable beauty, wild creativity, bountiful love, intense connection, and exuberant joy. Right now, these exist in happy little pockets of the world, where people are free and the intention is set: allow people, any and all people, to reach their own potential by offering love. If we can learn from the lessons of the Outer Banks, maybe everyone can exist in peace.

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Initiator, competitor, and adventurer sharing my stories to inspire others to play big.

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Lillian Mell

Lillian Mell

Initiator, competitor, and adventurer sharing my stories to inspire others to play big.

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