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Netflix Takes NC-Based Show to SC, Citing State's Anti-LGBTQ Law

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Jan 11, 2019

A North Carolina town is losing out on an estimated $60 million infusion of Netflix cash thanks to the lingering, still-active parts of an anti-gay law that cost the state huge losses before it was (mostly, but not completely) repealed.

The town of Wilmington, NC was intended to be the shooting location for "OBX" (a shorthand for "Outer Banks"), an upcoming Netflix drama, according to series creator and North Carolina native Jonas Pate. But the company refused to spend its money in the state thanks to legislation left over from the notoriously anti-LGBTQ state law HB2, reports local newspaper StarNews.

HB2 was passed in 2016 under the auspices of being a so-called "bathroom bill" intended to block trans people from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identities. When the state was slammed with a tidal wave of negative publicity, millions of dollars in business losses, and the prospect of being shut out of NCAA athletic events, incoming governor Roy Cooper and state lawmakers hastened to repeal the measure.

That repeal legislation, HB142, did not include input from members of the LGBTQ community, as local papers noted at the time. It also left in place a law banning municipalities from setting forth their own anti-discrimination measures, at least until 2020.

Businesses mindful of that malicious slap at the LGBTQ community are still steering clear of North Carolina as a result — which means that Netflix is taking production of the 10-episode first season of the upcoming series elsewhere.

But North Carolina's loss is the gain of neighboring state South Carolina, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Pate decried the law's still-active anti-LGBTQ effects and the economic fallout affecting the town of Wilmington, which he reportedly had in mind when creating the series.

"This tiny law is costing this town 70 good, clean, pension-paying jobs and also sending a message to those people who can bring these jobs and more that North Carolina still doesn't get it," he told local newspaper The Fayetteville Observer.

But Pate, who is still lobbying for the series to be produced in Wilmington, held out a slim hope that the state might yet mend its ways.

"We have a tiny window where this could be pulled out of the fire," Pate noted. "If I get any sense that there is any effort to move the sunset date up, I think I could convince Netflix to change course."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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