American Vandal Season 2 Review
Last year’s sleeper hit Netflix show, American Vandal, began with a simple question: “Who drew the dicks?” It sounded sophomoric at first, but became a darkly funny and smart look at the underbelly of a modern high school under the guise of a true crime mockumentary. This season, a fecal filled felony at a private Catholic school brings back Peter and Sam, the intrepid documentarians from season one to investigate a “Turd Burglar”, who is responsible for an event hilariously called “The Brownout”, in which several students shit (or is it shat?) themselves.
There’s always a sense of fear going into the second season for anthology shows like American Vandal. Will it live up to the season before? Well, I am happy to say that creators Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda not only met the quality of the original season, but surpassed it.
There’s an incredible intrinsic joy in watching the way Vandal uses the methods of true crime docs to weave an engrossing narrative. We are shown crime scene photos and video clips of students shitting themselves on the day in question, and the serious way the show treats this adds to the hilarity. It’s almost funny how much the viewer themselves get wrapped up trying to find who the perpetrator is and how/why they did it.
Of course, the show wouldn’t be nearly as binge worthy as it is without the excellent casting and performances. Tyler Alvarez and Griffin Gluck return as Peter and Sam, and the two have excellent chemistry together as they work to solve the mystery. While I will miss Jimmy Tatro’s masterful performance as Dylan Maxwell, series newcomer Travis Tope’s role as Kevin – the accused “Turd Burglar” – is endlessly watchable as an awkward high school outcast. Melvin Gregg is another highlight, playing the high school basketball player DeMarcus Tillman. He shares many scenes with Dear White People star DeRon Horton. The entire ensemble is rounded out with popular types, weirdos, nerds, and geeks but the show takes a deep dive into their perspectives, elevating beyond standard high school stereotypes. They scarily feel like people that I went to high school with. Other Netflix shows just pale in comparison (I’m looking at you, Insatiable)
And that’s what Vandal’s biggest strength is: realism. Yes, the initial premise is certainly crazy as shit, but the meticulous recreation of a crime doc really puts the viewer in a trance like state as they focus on the details looking for clues. From episode to episode, it strings you along with its web of characters as it hits you with fake-outs, dead ends, and revelations. While I won’t spoil anything, the ending of this season wraps things up neatly with well executed commentary on social media and how it relates to the public and private lives of modern day students.
American Vandal is definitely a must watch for those who enjoy the true crime genre and for those looking for a Netflix original that isn’t full of shit.