This is a quickie review of a show I just finished, American Vandal. It’s a fictional series inspired by real documentary series like Making A Murderer, Serial, and the like.
The series is about high school senior Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), who is accused of spray painting dicks on all of his teachers cars. The “director” of the “documentary”, Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez), is Dylan’s classmate and is trying to exonerate him. Everything about this series is set up to make you believe that this really happened, but it’s all scripted. They pulled it off flawlessly. They even have the title sequence use the character’s names rather than actual creators Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault. If you saw this show without ever seeing the actors before, or knew that is was scripted, you would probably be completely fooled.
The amount of work that the creators had to do is staggering. Not only does the story play out realistically, even in how it ends, but it’s so damn complicated that it’s a wonder they were able to keep it from falling apart. And the cast was phenomenal, pitch perfect. For a comedy, there was some amazing dramatic acting. The comedy is also really good. It mostly comes from ridiculous dialogue and awkward pauses, and it all feels damn realistic.
The show goes a little meta at times. During one of the episodes, the show itself is leaked to the world online, so you have the characters of the show reacting to same stuff you are. And at other times, the main cast realizes how ridiculous all of the things they’re saying are. Specifically that all of this is about penises. The only thing that I can knock about this series is its reliance on dick as it’s main joke, though that’s when I look back on it. In the moment it wasn’t too distracting, and it’s balanced really well with the mystery, which is the driving force of the narrative.
Luckily the show is quick, and only has good stuff. I never felt like anything was filler or useless. The running time is about 30-35 minutes per episode, and there are only 8 episodes. Easily binge-able, which is what I did. It’s such a unique experience, and a well crafted one. I can’t recommend it enough.