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Netflix's Outer Banks Is A Thrill-Seeker's Paradise (And Your Next Binge-Watch)

Stars of the show tell MTV News about the real-life bonds behind the treasure hunt drama

Outer Banks begins with a hurricane. This is a pretty routine weather pattern for the North Carolina coastal islands, and the local teens know exactly what they need to do: grab their surfboards and hit the beach. At least, that’s what the thrill-seeking, rough-around-the-edges Pogues do. Meet John B (Chase Stokes), Pope (Jonathan Daviss), JJ (Rudy Pankow), and Kiara (Madison Bailey), the central crew on Netflix’s newest teen drama, who, after John B’s dad goes missing, stumble upon a treasure map poised to reveal way more secrets than just a buried riches.

“If the Goonies were 16 years old, and didn't care to get caught drinking beer and smoking pot and having the best time of their life,” Stokes tells MTV News, “that would be Outer Banks.”

Much like the 1985 film, friendship is at the core of the show. Rarely do viewers see the group of four separated, especially in the summer when the water is practically calling their names. They have sun to catch, boats to drive, and parties to attend. Life is out there, just waiting for them to live it. “It's like summer camp with no counselors,” Daviss says.

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And for the record, that was true whether or not the cameras were rolling. Series creator Jonas Pate, a product of the hang loose lifestyle, made sure of that, encouraging the cast to dive headfirst (sometimes literally) into the activities that shaped him. Filming in Charleston, South Carolina, they surfed, wakeboarded during lunch breaks, and — after the necessary safety lessons — took their own boats to and from set together; Stokes even took lessons with a dive master to prepare for a 25-foot on-camera scuba excursion.

“Anytime you see us on camera laughing and joking around that it was 100 percent real, 100 percent of the time,” Bailey says. There were times the cast only learned they were being filmed when the footage made it into the show as B-roll. Shots of them chilling on the boat, laughing, singing, throwing ice — those are shots of Stokes, Daviss, Pankow, and Bailey as themselves. They also snuck some of their jokes into the dialogue. (Think of Topper actor Austin North whenever you hear the word ‘rig,’ and know that assistant director Michael Jefferson gets credit for the ‘hot damns.’) “We were watching the show and we're like, ‘Oh my God, I can't believe they kept that,’” Bailey adds.

“It's a lot of late nights, a lot of deep conversations, a lot of time invested into each other, and it wasn't a forced thing, which I think is the beauty of it,” Stokes says. And, of course, it didn’t hurt that they were having the time of their lives. “It feels like every teenager's dream to just kind of go off with their friends, do whatever they want, have a car to do it, not have curfew and just have no rules for a bit,” Madelyn Cline, who plays Sarah Cameron, an upscale Kook and social rival to the Pogues (and, crucially, John B’s ex). “It's just that fun Pogue lifestyle, the ‘take it easy, live más.’”

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Add to their adventurous spirits the suspense of a treasure hunt with a $400 million cash prize and the search for John B’s father, and you know you’re in for an adventure. Moving more like a maze than a puzzle, Outer Banks weaves through clues only to hit dead ends, with new problems cropping around every corner — some of them armed and unafraid to shoot — and ever-raising stakes.

The cast’s only advice: Expect the unexpected, because once things get started, the Pogues will push forward full throttle until they reach where they’re trying to go — or at least, somewhere in that area. “It does end up with a kind of question mark,” Pankow says, hinting that should fans want a Season 2, it is not outside of the realm of possibility. (Needless to say, none of the actors would be opposed to another summer of endless fun.)

In the meantime, your next binge-watch awaits in North Carolina. “You get to dive into mystery, you get to dive into the thrill, you get to dive into love, you get to dive into friendship, and it's all done in a way that doesn't feel forced in your face,” Stokes says. “I think it's kind of one of those ‘D, all of the above’ answers.”