Since experiencing a real summer this year seems nearly impossible, watching Netflix’s Outer Banks offers the next best thing: the illusion of a beach getaway. The new teen drama follows two warring groups—the affluent Kooks and the working-class Pogues—during a summer in the real North Carolina region known as the Outer Banks.
It’s the kind of town where $400 million treasure can be found in a sunken ship and love triangles abound. Since premiering on April 15, the show has consistently held a spot on Netflix’s 10 most popular shows list. But if you’re curious about the real spot where Outer Banks is filmed, it’s not actually in North Carolina. Below, everything we know about where the series is shot—and where production could be headed in season 2.
Outer Banks is actually filmed in South Carolina.
The show is set in Outer Banks, a 200 mile-long bend of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. However, the show actually shoots one state south, in Charleston, South Carolina. Once quarantine is over, you’ll have to head to SC to track down all the filming locales.
There’s a political reason the show couldn’t be filmed in its actual setting.
Co-creator Jonas Pate said he envisioned filming in North Carolina, but the Wilmington Star News reported that Netflix opted not to film the show in Wilmington, even though it had been scouted for locations, because of the state’s anti-LGBTQ House Bill 2 legislation. Known as “the bathroom law,” the 2016 bill states that transgender people must use the bathrooms that match the sex assigned to them at birth. While parts of the bill have been repealed, local jurisdictions are still barred from passing anti-discrimination laws until 2020, a ban that Joaquin Carcano, the lead plaintiff in the ACLU’s case against the bill, called “devastating.”
Pate told Wilmington Star News, “when we wrote [Outer Banks], it was 100 percent Wilmington in our heads. We wanted to film it here. But Netflix made the right decision to insist on inclusivity and we completely agree with them.” Pate was still able to employ members of the local community by hiring dozens of Wilmington-based crew members, who traveled to Charleston for filming.
The creators admit the show’s geography is a little off.
If you’ve come to the Netflix show for a completely accurate portrayal of the titular region, you’re in the wrong place. Esquire spoke to Brent Nultemeier, a local surfer from the area, about the show’s geographical liberties. One thing he took issue with was the Pogues taking a ferry to Chapel Hill, which is a land-locked area. “They showcase some kind of a lighthouse that was not even from our area at all,” Nultemeier said. “Some of the homes and some of the vegetation is wrong, too. Further south there’s a lot more palm trees. We don’t have that many palm trees here on the Outer Banks. Some of it looked similar, but when you live here, in the very first episode you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s not here.'”
Co-creators Josh Pate and Shannon Burke are well aware of their modifications. “The world of Outer Banks is an amalgam of both Carolina coasts,” Pate told The Wrap. “It’s a fantasy geography based on a myriad of experiences all based on the Carolina coast. I just want to make it clear we’re making no attempt at geographical reality.”
Burke even drew comparisons between the mythology of Outer Banks and Game of Thrones.“Both Josh and I have pictures of our imaginary island on our wall,” Burke explained to the outlet. “We really built up this whole world. We have this map and we know what it looks like now, almost like the map you see for Game of Thrones. And it’s an imaginary Outer Banks.”
Season 2 could move filming locations.
Although Netflix hasn’t confirmed a second season, the show’s creators already have ideas about a new setting for it. Jonas told EW that at least a few episodes of the the new season will take place in the Bahamas, but will ultimately return to the “spiritual home” of the Outer Banks.