Another sign that Netflix is becoming a big player on the small screen. Plenty of cool and innovative shows are coming from the streaming service. American Vandal is about high school and combines that with a true crime series. Interesting combo. This time it is with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Clever and pointed pokes are made at both the teenage years at school and shows that recreate crimes which have been committed.
In Oceanside, California at the local high school 27 cars owned by faculty members are spray painted with big red penises. Because he is someone who in the past has drawn many a phallus, senior Dylan Maxwell (played by Jimmy Tatro) is suspected, goes in front of school administrators in a sort of trial and then quickly expelled. His future seems in doubt and it seems like a situation of case closed. That is for everyone except for two members of the school’s television station – Peter Maldonado (played by Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Eckwund (played by Griffin Gluck). They begin an investigation which uncovers new discovery after new discovery.
Their documentary will, with the aid of fellow students like Gabi Granger (played by Camille Hyde) and teachers like Mr. Kraz (played by Ryan O’Flanagan), attempt to bring to light the truth. The further they go on the more Peter and Sam begin to believe that the wrong person has been found guilty. When they release American Vandal it becomes the talk of the school. Everyone wants to know everyone else’s secrets which are being uncovered during the course of the investigation.
Rightly so, because it is unlike any high school depiction we have seen before, the series was Emmy nominated and a Peabody winner. Though there are only eight episodes (which makes it highly bingeable) it is jam packed with delightful things like revenge, deceit, corruption, and plenty of secrets.
Mockumentary is not exactly an original idea, but the way it is pulled off here is. That coupled with the realistic portrayals by all the actors – young or older – and clever dialogue makes for a series about high school which should appeal to all ages. You’ll totally be invested in the finding out who really drew the penises.
-Point/Counterpoint: Alex Trimboli vs. The Wayback Boyz
-Dylan Maxwell Extended Interviews
-Mr. Kazawski’s Extended Interviews
-School Board Hearings (Extended)