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A Microcosm Of Society - American Vandal Review


How do we view things when we talk about different societies? We sometimes view these societal issues differently when it affects certain people. For instance, if a street is dirty, we often blame it on those who live or hang out on the streets because they are easier to point to than carefully gathering facts before choosing whose at fault.


American Vandal is a mockumentary that follows two young documentarists trying to solve several unusual mysteries.


The series span for two seasons, but because Netflix decided to cut the show, it should have been more.


Plot Overview


Although the stories of the first and second seasons differ, it focuses on two amateur documentary filmmakers, Peter and Sam, who decided to create a true-crime series, American Vandal.


Season 1 dissects the aftermath of vandalism on 27 faculty cars at Hanover High School with phallic images. The school initiates an investigation and conclusively blame Dylan Maxwell, a known class clown, and a teacher's headache. The two documentarists try to uncover the truth and investigate whether Dylan is to be blamed.


Season 2 happens in a different school with another motive. The two documentarists investigate a new crime in a Catholic School after the Cafeteria's lemonade is contaminated with maltitol by a mysterious figure called "Turd Burglar." The school's initial investigation conclusively blames Kevin McClain based on a statement made by his friend Tanner Bassett.


Characters


Before analyzing what this show has in store, we first look at the characters that define it.

  • Peter Maldonado - the writer and director of the true-crime documentary series American Vandal. He is also a co-anchor of Hanover High School's morning show. Throughout the series, Peter is a person who wants to search for the truth and tries to do so without bias. During the first season, he puts himself and his friend on the suspect list because he thinks that if you don't have a solid alibi, you could be one of the causes.

  • Sam Ecklund - Peter's closest friend and documentary partner. Although Sam rarely talks throughout the documentary, he provides his intellectual understanding of solving the crimes.

  • Dylan Maxwell - The first season's target and blamed suspect. He is a happy-go-lucky student that focuses more on having fun than studying. He habitually makes fun of his Spanish teacher, Mrs. Shapiro. He has an on-and-off relationship with his girlfriend and owns an unpopular Youtube channel with his friends.

  • Kevin McClain - The second season's target and blamed suspect—a known outcast and introvert. He is friends with Tanner Bassett, who accuses him of being the Turd Burglar. He has a habit of doing funny acts to entertain other people.

Review and Analysis


It's easy to view American Vandal as a humorous take on true crime documentaries popularized by having its host seemingly pretending to solve the case by featuring several clues. It's true that for the first couple of episodes, you might be laughing at the investigation, but once it gets deeper, you often realize that it's much more.


Although it seems that the focus of the mockumentary is to shed light and protect the targeted victim, Dylan, the first season's pointed suspect, seems to be someone that can easily be blamed. He does have the worst school record, and most teachers hated him for his attitude. He owns a Youtube channel that does fun stuff like pranks etc. When the school's investigation starts, he is an easy target because no one except his friends cares for him. The faculty staff has the power, and instead of wasting time trying to figure out the true culprit, they took the easy way and blamed Dylan.


As the series progressed, we found that Dylan was in no way the culprit. He has a strong alibi when Peter and Sam present a timeline of when the vandalism happened. He has no technical skills to disrupt the CCTV footage. However, we also learn that Dylan is a troubled person. People see him as a failure, and because of that, he thinks he is one.


American Vandal tells us, viewers, a way to explain what a failed society is. A microcosm of what it would be for those who are vulnerable. The people in power swiftly point to the weak as a culprit because they think it would be better.


This show has all the reasons to be a fun little documentary show if you watch it on a surface level, and it's all right. It was designed so that people would make fun of it, and the crimes were in no way profound whatsoever. However, it was also structured to explain the faults in people if you look at it from a different perspective.


Overall, American Vandal is a hidden gem. It's sad that Netflix decided to cut off the show because it promises so much more. I'd like for it to be going for a couple more seasons, but it never happened.


A good 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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