Clearly a riff on the streaming giant's acclaimed true crime series Making A Murderer and The Keepers, American Vandal is a half-hour true crime satire that explores the aftermath of a costly high school prank that left twenty-seven faculty cars vandalized with phallic images. Over the course of the eight-episode season, an aspiring sophomore documentarian Peter Maldanaldo investigates the controversial and potentially unjust expulsion of Dylan Maxwell, the troubled senior accused of the phallic vandalization.Written by
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very familiar with the "True Crime" shows that American Vandal is presenting itself as a parody of, but that didn't take away from the enjoyment of it at all. The show takes a satirical low-stakes premise and manages to make it genuinely suspenseful and funny, as well as very poignant towards the end of the season. The show blends this style with elements of found footage films, finding the best aspects of both and managing to never get stale.
For a show with a mostly junior cast that essentially lives and dies by the believability of its performances, American Vandal's actors were all surprisingly capable and felt like real people. Jimmy Tatro was great; if you've followed his YouTube channels, you won't see much you haven't already seen him do, but he's very talented and he was definitely perfect for the role. The other leads were great as well, and I can't think of too many weak links in even the supporting cast. It's rare to see TV shows paint an accurate picture of modern high school kids across different stereotypes (and make any attempt to deconstruct those stereotypes), but this felt about as close as I've seen one get.
Plus, the writing is engaging and keeps you guessing throughout, such that you won't be certain where the plot is going until the very end. Certain details will appear in the first few episodes that don't get elaborated upon until several episodes later, and it makes the show very rewarding upon re-watches for viewers paying attention. For a show that would have done just fine as a fun romp satirizing the true crime genre, American Vandal actually goes the extra mile to make itself more enjoyable.
If you were even moderately interested based on the trailer, absolutely give American Vandal a binge. Would love to see what this team can come up with next.
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