‘Outer Banks’: Cell Phones Aren’t Used in the Series — Here’s Why

The Netflix series Outer Banks is a teen drama that follows John B. (Chase Stokes), a young man who goes searching for his father and ends up on a treasure hunt for $400 million in gold. While the series takes place in the present day, showrunners made a choice to leave out a piece of technology many of us use every day — cell phones.

Find out why Outer Banks creators purposefully left cell phones out of the show, according to Stokes.

Jonathan Pope, Rudy Pankow, Madison Bailey, and Chase Stokes
Jonathan Pope, Rudy Pankow, Madison Bailey, and Chase Stokes | Netflix

‘Outer Banks’ is a series about friendship 

Yes, Outer Banks is a teen drama that involves romance, class rivalries, and mixed emotions. But at its core, Outer Banks is really a show about friendship and fostering relationships. 

As a loner, John B. values his friendships more than any of his worldly possessions. For him, the love and kinship he receives from Kiara (Madison Bailey), J.J. (Rudy Pankow), Pope (Jonathan Daviss), and later, Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline), allows John B. to feel like one of the wealthiest people in the world. 

“I think the most important thing to me is being truthful with your friends and finding a friend group that you can truly be yourself with,” Stokes told V Man. For Stokes, being able to be truthful with his friends is about being hyper-focused on those friendships. 

Kooks and Pogues don’t use cell phones in ‘Outer Banks’

If you’ve seen season 1 of Outer Banks, you might have noticed how the Pogues nor the wealthy Kooks ever use a cell phone. Phone use wasn’t part of their everyday lives, allowing the importance of friendship to shine through.

“[I think the younger generation has] lost that true art of friendship,” Stokes explained. “[Now,] everything is so hyper-focused on social media and on our image and what we project out into society versus just being present with the people around us.” 

RELATED: ‘Outer Banks’: Chase Stokes and John B. Are Alike in This Way

To combat that feeling of being wrapped up in social media, showrunners intentionally left cell phones out of the show. This helped emphasize John B’s friendship with the Pogues. 

Other Netflix series leave cell phones out on purpose, like ‘The Umbrella Academy’ 

Like Outer BanksThe Umbrella Academy doesn’t include the use of cell phones. Showrunners purposefully made this choice to make the show better. 

“[The] truth is, we want [The Umbrella Academy] to feel like Children of Men a little bit,” showrunner Steve Blackman explained to Slashfilm

I don’t mean the bleakness of Children of Men, but to respect the world. So the viewers are watching, they may or may not notice that I’ve eliminated certain pieces of technology. It’s supposed to be now, contemporary, but certain things are slightly different. So I suppose you could say we’re in a little bit of an alternate universe, but I want it to feel very, very subtle.

Moreover, removing cell phones helps elevate the suspension of disbelief. Consider the Hargreeves siblings — if they had access to a mobile device, one call could have prevented the apocalypse. 

But with Outer Banks, removing technology helps drive home the critical theme of friendship.