Television Review: American Vandal

Every sequel has a lot to live up to especially if you’re following up on one of Netflix’s best offerings that is American Vandal. The first season’s premise was simple enough: a true crime mockumentary following the mystery of who drew 27 dicks on the teacher’s cars at a high school. Season two’s answer to where you go from here is straightforward but no less effective: poop jokes.

Season 2 has filmmakers Peter and Sam head over to the affluent St. Bernadine High where a new vandal, the ‘turdburglar’, is causing trouble. They seek to exonerate Kevin whom they believe has wrongly taken the fall for the burglar’s crimes. Kevin is joined by another colourful ensemble cast that deliver the laughs and drama the first season nailed. While this season does not have the same comedic highs the first did, it is an improvement in every other way.

American Vandal continues to use its absurd premise not just for comedy but as a vessel for exploring what it’s like growing up as a kid today. The novelty of the genre, the mystery, and humour would make for a solid show already, but what makes American Vandal outstanding is how it examines the issues facing kids in 2018. It does so earnestly and with empathy, never leaving a joke or punchline to define a character. Everyone is taken seriously, and its brilliance is in how it leads us to misjudge people only to reveal our first impressions may have been wrong.

Worth mentioning also is the presence of social media and how it’s integral to what the show has to say rather than being a convenient plot device. It’s further impressive how it’s portrayed as a tool sadly often too exploited rather than an innate force for bad.

Essential to any good whodunit is how it all resolves which it does with confidence. The finale is more hopeful than the previous season’s despite treading darker territory and most importantly, this does not feel unearned.