By Catharin Shepard •
Staff writer •
One of the hottest shows on Netflix this month is a brand-new drama created by Raeford natives Josh and Jonas Pate.
The Pate brothers and their writing partner, Shannon Burke, are writers and executive producers of “Outer Banks,” an action-adventure series set in North Carolina’s barrier islands. “Outer Banks” premiered April 15 on Netflix and quickly became one of the most-watched shows on the streaming service, reaching the number two spot in the U.S. this week.
The series follows the lives of teenager John B and his friends, a group called the “Pogues,” as they try to solve a mystery and clash with their rivals, the wealthy “Kooks.”
“On an island of haves and have-nots, teen John B enlists his three best friends to hunt for a legendary treasure linked to his father’s disappearance,” the Netflix show description reads.
While some reviews compared the series favorably to shows like “Dawson’s Creek” or “90210,” “Outer Banks” is more of its own thing, Jonas Pate said.
“I think we try to play the characters a little looser and a little more naturalistically, and I think we have a bigger storyline, a more cinematic storyline,” he said.
The writers drew inspiration from S.E. Hinton’s coming-of-age novel “The Outsiders,” and cult classic ‘80’s adventure movie “The Goonies.” They also drew on their own childhood, growing up in Raeford and vacationing at Wrightsville Beach, for inspiration for the beach-town setting.
“We knew that might be a fun setting for a show like this,” Pate said.
Bringing the characters to life on the screen meant finding the right actors and actresses to portray them. The producers auditioned a lot of people before casting the four main characters: Chase Stokes as John B, Madelyn Cline as Sarah Cameron, Madison Bailey as Kiara “Kie,” and Jonathan Daviss as Pope. The series also features Rudy Pankow, Austin North, Charles Esten and Drew Starkey, along with many recurring characters.
The friendship the main four actors’ characters develop during the first season of the show extends off screen, too, Pate said.
“What’s amazing is all the actors have become best friends in real life,” he said.
Sharp-eyed viewers may notice the setting doesn’t match up with the actual Outer Banks landscape. The show was filmed in South Carolina, though the Pates hope to film in North Carolina in the future with other projects. Netflix wouldn’t agree to film in N.C. due to a piece of the H.B. 2 law still on the books, which is set to expire in December.
“Outer Banks” takes plenty of twists and turns in its 10-episode first season. The writers hope to have four or five seasons in the series.
Right now they’re waiting to hear about a second season. Netflix usually waits about four weeks from a new show premiere date to announce a renewal, so it may be a few more weeks before they know for sure – but the interest in the series has been very positive, Pate said.
The Pates are Hollywood veterans with many credits to their name, but “Outer Banks” marks the first time the brothers and their company, Rock Fish Productions, have created an original series just for Netflix. They’re hoping it won’t be the last, as it’s proven to be a good partnership.
“They’re really great, they give you a lot of support creatively and financially,” Pate said.
The Pates have pitched two other ideas to Netflix, and even filmed a trailer for one of the possible projects.
The COVID-19 pandemic that’s shut down work on many other productions hasn’t affected “Outer Banks” at this point. The three writers/executive producers all live in different states, so the writing for the series already involved a lot of teleconferencing.
“Quarantine and writing is basically the same thing,” Pate joked.
As for local connections: there are a number of Pate family inside jokes hidden in “Outer Banks,” Pate said.
“Raeford was such a great place to grow up, and my brother and I had the best time growing up there,” he said.
Pate recalled summer days when the brothers would ride their bikes downtown and stop by the old Howell Drug counter for lunch.
“I would just say, go, Bucks! I played a lot of sports at Hoke High and I’m still a huge fan,” he said.
The Pate brothers have previously worked on many television and film projects, variously as screenwriters, producers and directors. Just a few of their credits include work on “Battlestar Galactica,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Good vs. Evil,” Marvel’s “Iron Fist” and “New Amsterdam.”
“Outer Banks” is available only on Netflix, and is rated TV-MA. (Image: One of the Pate brothers on the set of Outer Banks—Curtis Baker, Netflix photo.