The Real Significance of the Pogues and Kooks on 'Outer Banks'

Gina Vaynshteyn - Author

Apr. 15 2020, Updated 6:50 p.m. ET

outer banks on netflix
Source: netflix

Already five episodes deep into Netflix's new adventure-drama series, Outer Banks? The show, which follows Pogues pack leader John B as he investigates the disappearance of his father, is as addicting as it is stressful. It's also just fun to watch, and reminds viewers of teen dramas like The O.C. or One Tree Hill — but with sunken treasure and murder. Like any good YA story, the teen characters are divided by group nicknames that signify their "place" in society: the Pogues and the Kooks.

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The meaning behind "Pogues" and "Kooks."

John B explains early in the season that, "This is Figure Eight, the rich side of the island. Home of the Kooks." We see opulent houses, golf courses, and luxurious yachts. The Kooks are "rich trustafarian posers" and John B and company dislike them very much. As for his side of tracks, John says, "This is the south side, or the cut. Home of the working class, who make a living busing tables, washing yachts, running charters. The natural habitat of the Pogues." 

hms pogue
Source: Netflix
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"Pogues" comes from the term "pogies" which is another name for Menhaden fish. The Menhaden fish, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, are part of the herring family, and they're used for fish meal, oil, and fertilizer — so, they're not for eating. Although they're basically just food for fish, they're a super crucial part of the ecosystem. In fact, The National Geographic calls the pogies the "most important fish in the sea." The Pogues are working class folk who are unnoticed, like the fish, but basically keep the whole island running.

Source: Netflix
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The term "Kooks," on the other hand, comes from a slang word that means "someone posing very hard as a surfer or skateboarder," according to Urban Dictionary. A more specific definition states that Kooks "don't live in the sh*thole little coastal towns; don't work construction and / or drive old, beat-up trucks; pretend like they can surf when, in reality, they suck ass." 

Suffice it to say, "Kook" is not an endearing term and in the case of Outer Banks, speaks to the rich kids who want to be seen as locals, but don't want to actually associate with the true locals or "natives" of the town.

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Source: Netflix

Both groups in Outer Banks use the terms constantly. For example, in Episode 5, Rafe says, "Tell Kiara she looks pretty hot for a Pogue," as a cop drags JJ, a Pogue, away. Topper calls John B a Pogue at one point, which leads to a physical brawl. While the Pogues self-identify as such, a Kook using the term always signifies a derogatory tone. Basically, Pogues and Kooks signal a class divide in Outer Banks. Most likely, no such thing actually exists in North Carolina.

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