Outer Banks, a perfect show on Netflix about treasure-hunting miscreant teenagers, is a lot like a can of Pringles: it is sleek, it is shiny, and once you pop, you will have no option but to watch the entire season in one sitting. Whether you’re a teenager, a 30-year-old, or a 30-year-old playing a teenager on Netflix’s Outer Banks, if you have watched Season 2 of this show, then it is most likely that you watched all 10 episodes over the course of a single weekend. Over the course of that same weekend, you perhaps took one to two, or maybe even three or four showers, depending on how active you were, how bored you were, or how many sewer drains you had to wade through in search of a lost murder weapon …
But over the course of one weekend, the average Outer Banks teen will take no showers. They will take negative showers. The Outer Banks teens do not shower. They may wash their face in a bird bath, or rub dry soap on their skin to fake appendicitis, or let a rainstorm briefly skim the top layer of grime off of their bodies while sprinting from a homicidal daddy. But they will not—I repeat: NOT—intentionally bathe if they can help it. And boy, can they help it.
In the grand tradition of great teen soaps that have come before it, the central conflicts of Outer Banks come from its grand love story—between John B and Sarah Cameron, the Romeo and Juliet of North Carolina, except instead of poison, these two are consistently trying to give themselves MRSA—and its town’s insurmountable socioeconomic class divide. But the deeper we get into Season 2, the clearer it becomes that what really separates the Kooks and the Pogues on the island of Outer Banks, North Carolina, isn’t trust funds or country club memberships; it is a heavy dollop of Dove body wash and regular access to running water.
Because there are a lot of written rules about being a Pogue: Pogues don’t mack on other Pogues (except when they do), being a Pogue is a for-life commitment (including when one is presumed dead), and the well-known fact that you simply cannot kill a Pogue (that one is actually super true).
But the unwritten rule of being a Pogue seems to be that a Pogue never showers, no matter what.
Now, admittedly, I am not a teen. I know this not only because of my birth certificate and my firm commitment to a side-part, but because I have extreme empathy for Kiara’s parents—she really is getting herself into a lot of trouble with these boys, and something needs to change! But I was once a teen, and I seem to remember taking showers … I don’t know, daily-ish? And while I don’t care if Kiara is a Pogue, because technically that means nothing, I do care if she gets E. coli while searching for a gun in a sewer.
There are so many absurd parts of Outer Banks that I’m thrilled to be a part of. The knife-wielding Bahamian Cleo happens to work on both boats that Sarah and John B happen to stow away on? I love it. Pope is related to the original settler of the Outer Banks, a self-freed former enslaved person who hid a billion dollars of treasure, but never knew about it until now? Oh, hell yeah. Sarah briefly dies, and comes back to life from nothing more but the power of teenage love. Give it to me, baby.
But JJ not cleaning his DIY tattoo with a little hydrogen peroxide? And John B and Sarah not taking 100 showers the moment they’re able to rid themselves of the his-and-hers ochre tops they’ve been wearing for two seasons of television? And Kiara, once again, rooting around in sewage? That stuff, I simply cannot abide.
It’s difficult to calculate the span of time that’s covered in Season 2, because on Outer Banks—which is actually filmed in Charleston, South Carolina—it is always, always dusk. If a brother texts his sister from his other sister’s phone to say “meet me at 10” so he can try to drown her, and then her ex-boyfriend shows up to save her life, when they all walk away from that 10 p.m. meeting, the sun is somehow still setting.
Still, by my rough calculations of various dusks throughout Season 2, I think it takes these teens somewhere between 10 and 14 days to uncover their second consecutive half-billion-dollar treasure trove. In that fortnight, the Pogues traverse international waters thrice, stow away on two separate boats, steal countless vehicles, go to jail, briefly become gold millionaires, survive a gunshot wound, an alligator attack, and multiple attempted chokings, and get marooned on a deserted island. And how many times do you think they bathe themselves in the same fortnight?
Don’t worry, I’ve done the math so you don’t have to. And the answer is ultimately a number so small that even a teenager who missed the first two weeks of school while he was busy being an international fugitive could get this answer right on a pop quiz once he returned to school, unbathed and unbothered. Please join me on this investigative journey into figuring out exactly how long each teen goes without showering during Season 2 of Outer Banks.
Evidentiary showers: one documented; several—almost an alarming amount—assumed
When the final credits rolled on the Season 2 finale, I knew two things to be true: (1.) Drew Starkey deserves a whole-ass Emmy for this performance as teen psychopath dream Rafe Cameron. And (2.) unfortunately, there is no doubt that Rafe “Who Will Get the Kiss from Daddy” Cameron is the cleanest of the Outer Banks teens.
Sure, Rafe gets dirty from time to time—you’re going to have to get a little dirt under your nails if you’re ready and willing to murder every person in town except the dad that you’re murdering to impress, after all. But each time we see Rafe after an attempted murder, or a successful murder, or a trip down a storm drain, he is wearing a fresh set of clothes, and his skin is glistening from what I imagine is a Patrick Bateman-esque facial routine. Plus, Rafe has a sort of Devon-Sawa-in-Casper haircut that could go greasy in those front tendrils lickety-split, and it almost never does.
Finally, unlike other somewhat cleanly characters, we have proof that Rafe prioritizes hygiene. Even with a dead body and a magic cross made of solid gold in the back of his freight truck, Rafe still takes time to shower before heading out to the swamp to dispose of a body, after which he will most likely shower again. On his bedside table sit multiple elixirs and lotions, and inside his dopp kit are surely travel-size soaps to take on his family’s escape boat.
If you really think hard about it—and why wouldn’t you—Outer Banks goes a pretty long way toward equating cleanliness with homicide, and dirtiness with morality. So, buckle up, because our heroes are as moral as they come, and it is disgusting.
Time without showering: zero days
Evidentiary showers: zero documented, several assumed
Topper exhibits a lot of character growth in Season 2, mostly thanks to his continued obsession with Sarah—but it still pains me to admit that this boy very obviously smells good. His hair is always freshly tousled because, as a Kook, Topper is always freshly showered. We never see him shower per se, but any 16-year-old who’s finding the time to procure little room service cloches to serve his disheveled ex-girlfriend poached eggs each morning … is also finding the time to shower on a daily basis.
Time without showering: zero days
Evidentiary showers: zero documented; regular bathing assumed
Now, it’s possible that I’m giving Cleo the benefit of the cleanliness doubt because she’s the newest Pogue, and therefore does not yet know the moral value of never bathing. But Cleo has a protective hairstyle, which seems a wise choice if your lifestyle involves frequent heists and unexpected dives into the sea. Cleo also wears mostly dark colors, which show less dirt than, say, a nasty yellow tee. It’s unclear exactly where Cleo lives, but presumably the boats that she works on have showers, even if she (rightfully) prioritizes badassery over being squeaky clean.
Time without showering: 2-3 days at most
Pope and JJ
Evidentiary showers: zero documented; a handful assumed
At some point, deciding between the filthiest of the Pogues becomes a little subjective—and that point basically comes down to whether you are a Pope stan or a JJ stan (may the Pogue Gods have mercy on your soul if you are a Rafe stan). And while I recognize that Jonathan Daviss has the textbook definition of a perfect face, JJ is Pacey with a gun … and I’m always going to want to see the best in Pacey with a gun—I mean JJ.
But even I cannot deny that one of the first things we see JJ do in Season 2 is give himself a bespoke “P4L” tattoo with a sewing needle taped to a pencil. That alone should give him an infection so gnarly, it would knock him out of the teen treasure huntin’ business for good. And yet, JJ does at least show some fear for his own well-being at times, like not wanting to go into the sewer, lest he get one of those worms that “gets into your blood and then has to come out of your pecker.” JJ also sometimes wears stark-white shirts to look cool, and that requires some level of occasionally washing your neck over a two-week period.
Likewise, Pope occasionally wears collared shirts, and even puts on his fancy little boat shoes to go to Charleston. He certainly gets dirty in Season 2, helping get Kiara out of the sewer, tackling Rafe in a swamp, getting attacked by wasps and subsequently jacked up with an extra powerful Epi-Pen … but Pope is also the only Pogue with a house run by adults and regular access to a shower. When the teens up and decide to return to school, Pope is fully ready to go, suggesting that he showered and got ready for the day. At least that one day he bathed … let’s give him that one day.
Time without showering: 4-5 days
Evidentiary showers: one documented; no others assumed
One thing Kiara will always make time for is putting two tiny braids in her hair without bothering to take one tiny shower. Perhaps it is a bold move to declare the one Pogue we see take a shower as the least bathed (OBX-stationed) Pogue. But Kiara is consistently filthy, and I do believe there’s a psychological foundation for her habits ...
Kiara is not a born Pogue. That’s why she’s always screaming at her mom that she’s a Pogue; that’s why she’s always challenging others’ Pogue-ness; and I believe that is why she allows herself to get even dirtier than the others before bathing—because Kiara has something to prove.
After rummaging around the sewer for Ward’s gun at high noon, Kiara waits until nightfall to take a shower, which she ultimately does outside, drying off with a beach towel that does not look fresh from the spin cycle. Then, after her parents kick her out, Kiara stays at John B’s house, where at one point she hits a pillow of the couch she’s sleeping on and a small natural disaster’s worth of dust flies out. When Kiara and Pope hook up for the first time, it is on a beach, after they’ve spent the past two days sleeping in a truck and running all over Charleston without bathing, and returning to party it up with their bloodied friends in a hot tub that I am absolutely positive has been filled with stagnant water for weeks.
“Why me,” Pope asks shortly before they seal the romantic deal. “Why not you?” Kiara returns. But the real answer, of course, should be that they both have visible dirt in their neck creases, and the time for worrying about pecker worms really is not over. Why not? I can think of at least five or six reasons ...
Time without showering: At least 5-6 days
Evidentiary showers: zero documented; one assumed
Poor Sarah and John B start Season 2 at a deficit. As you’ll recall, they were shipwrecked at the end of Season 1, and picked up by a boat headed to Nassau. They were given hot coffee on the boat, but very clearly, they were not given shower access, because when we’re reintroduced to them, they are somehow both blonder and filthier.
While in Nassau, Sarah is shot by her brother, and proceeds to wear her blood-soaked jean shorts all the way across the sea and into Charleston proper. From the time that she left the United States to the time she returned, Sarah has been shipwrecked once, kidnapped twice, crossed international waters, gotten mentally married to John B via a “sweaty piece of [his] father’s bandana”—actual decades of filth!—and showered exactly zero times. And that’s just in the first two episodes! Once Sarah is reunited with the Pogues in Charleston, she is at least able to score a change of clothes, but then our Kook princess sure does hop right into a hot tub that hasn’t been cleaned in months, with a gunshot wound that was stitched up by a drunk, unlicensed doctor not 24 hours ago. The kids are not OK.
Once Sarah gets back into the orbit of her family and Topper on Outer Banks, she does start to look a little more … matte. But there’s still no evidence that she’s showered. And listen, I don’t condone any psychotic brother attempting to drown their already traumatized-beyond-measure sister in a vat of water … but I must cop to a brief moment of relief when Sarah was plunged into what, in other circumstances, could have technically been considered a bath … before the reality set in that Rafe was, indeed, trying to kill his sister again.
Finally, poor Sarah is drugged and kidnapped by her stepmother, and judging by the way she looks when she’s dragged onto the boat with her awful family, I can only assume that they have finally Kook showered her against her Pogue will. Poor Sarah, but slightly cleaner Sarah.
Time without showering: At least 12 days
Evidentiary showers: zero documented; zero assumed
Oh, John B—the boy so nice, they named him twice, then stole all of his shirt buttons, indicted him for murder, and limited his access to running water. Much like Sarah, the closest John B gets to bathing is moments before an attempt on his life, when JJ briefly convinces him to rub white soap on his skin while in jail in order to fake appendicitis to escape into a waiting ambulance … which John B ultimately decides he can’t do at the moment the soap hits his skin. Coincidence? I think not. That moment of hesitation is immediately followed by a crooked cop facilitating a hit on John B in prison, which he luckily fends off so that he can live to see himself cleared of all felony charges! Then our guy promptly marches into a swamp and gets bitten by an alligator, leading to a gaping wound which he absolutely never cleans.
There is not a single time in Season 2 that John B is not filthy, sweating, covered in blood—his own and otherwise—and absolutely living every moment like bacteria doesn’t exist. It couldn’t be me, but I’m happy for the kid (played by a man) that with so much else going on in his life, this is one thing he doesn’t have to worry about. I mean, he should worry about it. He is absolutely going to get gangrene on the deserted island where he resides by the end of the season. But at least he will have gangrene in his own version of paradise: a place with no running water, and five of his filthiest friends.
Time without showering: The limit does not exist
Jodi Walker is a freelance pop culture writer with bylines in Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, and Texas Monthly. She writes about The Bachelor franchise at absurd length in her newsletter, These Are The Best Things.