Hiding deep within Netflix is a show unlike any other. American Vandal is a show filled with drama, mystery, and a plethora of cartoon penises. American Vandal was recommended to me by a friend who said that I would love it, in part because the plot had happened to me at one time. Not exactly, of course, but more on that later.
American Vandal is a Netflix original mockumentary series about high school senior Dylan Maxwell, who gets expelled for spray painting drawings of penises onto 27 faculty members’ cars. But his classmate, Peter, does not believe he did it, and starts a documentary series trying to work through the mystery and prove Dylan’s innocence. Peter interviews teachers, faculty members, and fellow students, trying to pick up on any other potential suspects. Many of his friendships are challenged, his academic reputation is put on the line, and his overall sanity is thrown some curveballs as new developments come forward.
American Vandal is one of the best shows I have watched in a while. A series made as a satire on the Making a Murderer hype, it is hilarious and witty, but it still captivates you just like Making a Murderer would. By the end of the series, you are really invested in the mystery and are constantly asking yourself, “Who really drew the penises?!” It’s a question that I never thought I would ask myself. The characters are also really captivating as well. At the beginning, Dylan is just an average slacker that we think will never amount to anything, and by the end, he’s still pretty much the same. The only difference is, as the show goes on, you really begin to feel for him and hope that he is proven innocent.
The reason my friend recommended this to me is because she said that I was a lot like the main character, filmmaker Peter Maldonado. He sets out on this huge project, making a controversial documentary centered around his school, which I kind of did as well. My senior year of high school, I made two backstage documentaries about my school’s theatre department. In watching this series, I related to two things: the videos getting really popular and everyone wanting to be in one and a little bit of controversy. I just wanted to include this part because it’s the main reason I watched the series, and, as a filmmaker, it made it immensely more enjoyable.
Overall, American Vandal was an incredible series. It’s funny, compelling, and an all-around good time. With only eight 30-minute episodes, it’s easily binged within a day, but it’s a show that you won’t forget any time soon. Right now, only season one is available, but season two is in production and will be released sometime in 2018. Check out American Vandal, and by the end, you’ll be chanting, “Free Dylan!”