‘Outer Banks’: What’s the Difference Between Kooks and Pogues?

The Netflix series Outer Banks introduced fans to two new worlds: the Pogues and the Kooks. The class war between the Kooks and the Pogues is a prominent theme in Season 1 of Outer Banks. But what does it all mean?

Here’s the difference between Kooks and Pogues in the series.

'Outer Banks' Netflix season 2
Chase Stokes, Madison Bailey, Jonathan Daviss, and Madelyn Cline in ‘Outer Banks’ | Netflix

[Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t finished Season 1 of Outer Banks, spoilers ahead]. 

‘Outer Banks’ Season 1 

In the first season of Outer Banks, we meet John B (Chase Stokes) and his friends Kie (Madison Bailey), JJ (Rudy Pankow), and Pope (Jonathan Daviss) — residents of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Despite missing for several months, John B is convinced his father is still alive. He slowly starts to uncover clues from his father, who was attempting to find $400 million in gold on the shipwrecked Royal Merchant. 

In Outer Banks Season 1, John B managed to find the gold his father could not; grapple with the idea of falling in love with a Kook named Sarah; and become North Carolina’s most wanted man for shooting the sheriff. 

‘Kook’ and ‘Pogue’ are used as societal descriptors

Outer Banks opens with a voiceover of John B, who explains the two classes of people on the island. “This is Figure Eight, the rich side of the island. Home of the Kooks,” he explains as the camera pans over large estates, marinas filled with yachts, and golf courses. According to John B, Kooks are “rich trustafarian posers” and the natural-born enemies of John B’s kind — the Pogues. 

“This is the south side — or the cut,” John B. explains as viewers are shown run-down homes and boats. “Home of the working class, who make a living busing tables, washing yachts, running charters. The natural habitat of the Pogues.” Unlike the Kooks, who are born into wealth and graced with privilege, the Pogues strive to find a way to make their lives better. 

Where did the nickname ‘Pogue’ come from? 

As John B revealed in the pilot episode, the term Pogue is derived from a type of fish. “Pogues, pogies, the throwaway fish. Lowest member of the food chain,” John B explained. Pogues are often used in fishing to help catch the bigger, better fish. 

Despite being at the bottom of the food chain, Pogues are lucky. According to John B, “The downside is that we’re ignored and neglected. And the upside that we’re ignored and neglected.” 

What is a Kook?

GQ described a Kook as “an individual with no understanding of the social and sartorial norms of surfing.” In terms of the Kooks in Outer Banks, the name is probably used to describe affluent Outer Banks natives because their wealth makes it impossible for them to truly fit into the laid back vibe true to the locals in the community. 

Do people in the Outer Banks use the terms ‘Kook’ and ‘Pogue’?

Brent Nultemeier, a local surfer in the Outer Banks area, spoke with Esquire about whether or not there’s any truth to the terms used in the series. “It’s just Hollywood to me. It’s all make-believe,” the lifelong surfer said. “Usually a kook is somebody that doesn’t know what they’re doing, who bought a surfboard and wants to portray this image of being a surfer when they’re entirely not. But over the years, I’m sure that term has been widely used elsewhere. I mean, anybody could be a kook at this point.”

Nultemeier also said the term “Pogue” isn’t used by anyone in the actual Outer Banks. What’s more, Nultemeier said the socio-economics portrayed in Outer Banks aren’t true to real life there. “You have to work a couple of jobs to make it here — it’s not super expensive to live here, but it’s not cheap either,” he explained. “I know there’s a huge shortage of low-income housing, and they’re building these mega mansion estates. I don’t know of a giant divide that’s clear, as they portray it on the TV show.”

Despite the terms not being used by Outer Banks natives, “Kooks” and “Pogues” have become part of the vernacular of anyone who has binged Outer Banks on Netflix.