American Vandal is a satire based on night-time true crime shows like 20/20 or even Netflix’s own Making a Murderer. The subject of the docu-series is Dylan, a self proclaimed prankster with a panache for drawing dicks, who stands accused of spray painting dicks on 27 teachers vehicles and subsequently expelled from school. Fellow classmate decides that it’s his duty to tell Dylan’s story by making this documentary to try and get down to just “Who drew the dicks?”. Now I know you may be thinking that this is hardly the prank of an evil mastermind genius but as you will learn – the security footage from the schools camera system has been purged from the exact time the dastardly deed allegedly took place.
American Vandal is presented as the product of a couple smart kids, Peter and best friend and co-producer Sam (Gluck) who believe that Dylan is, in fact, not guilty of the heinous act he’s been accused of. They question the school board’s verdict and they doubt another student’s claim that he saw Dylan in the act of the vandalism. American Vandal’s presentation is fantastic and almost believable if you didn’t know better. From crediting Mr.Baxter, one of their teachers as a producer in the credits to the highschool like animated infographics and visuals American Vandal goes the extra mile to make it look credible.
American Vandal is a love story to the true crime documentary genre and managed to keep myself and my wife interested and engaged from start to finish as each episode ended we would dissect what we had just learned. The writers have done a wonderful job. Examining alibis, expanding the range of suspects, introducing evidence that could exonerate Dylan and exploring the conflicted relationship between documentarian and subject are just a few of the ways the story builds extra tension(?) without feeling too drawn out.
I’ll fully admit that this show isn’t for everyone. For example, I’m not likely to suggest this little gem to my in-laws but my close friends? 100%. I’m a big fan of the true crime series’ and even some of the podcasts they reference in the show. I found American Vandal to be highly enjoyable and fresh. If you found yourself compelled by Making a Murder, Serial or Shit Town and you enjoy a few chuckles at the same time, I highly recommend you check out American Vandal and have some fun with it.