By Briana Fields
American Vandal is a Netflix original mockumentary series that premiered mid-September. The series is a comedic satire of the popular true crime documentary genre – think Serial or Making a Murderer, except this one is about dicks. Yes, really – the crime is twenty-seven dicks spray-painted on all the teachers’ cars in the faculty parking lot at a California high school. The suspect is Dylan Maxwell (played by Jimmy Tatro, who you probably recognize from Jump Street), a senior known for pranks and for dick-drawing, who at the start of the series has already been expelled for the crime. The show follows the investigation led by Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez), a sophomore at the high school who knows Dylan from working together on the school’s morning news show, and believes Dylan may be innocent.
The show’s premise may lead you to think it’ll be mostly crass dick jokes, and don’t get me wrong, there are plenty, but the mystery is as good as any true crime series I’ve ever seen with just as many compelling players and suspects; and it’s all without the risk of feeling a little guilty about turning a real person’s murder into entertainment. The high school setting will feel familiar, as will the characters – the show gets a lot closer to what high schoolers are actually like than most, despite having a 25-year-old actor in the starring role.
The show also seems to thoroughly understand social media and how kids use it, which grounds the show and makes it feel modern in a way that most (even current) shows can only dream of. It very much feels like exactly the documentary an over-enthusiastic high schooler would make about the senior expelled for drawing dicks – enough so that you’ll probably be able to point to each student and teacher and cast them as someone you remember from your own high school.
American Vandal is a perfect binge-watch in eight 30 to 40 minute episodes. I watched most of it in a single day, and I can normally barely sit through more than two episodes of a show in a row, if that tells you anything. It’s light, funny, and the mystery is intriguing. If you like true crime, satire, dick jokes, or any combination of the three, I suggest giving it a watch.
Featured image is from Amazon