Binge-A-Thon: American Vandal

Holy crap, I don’t know what it was about this weekend, but I have not binged out on TV like that in … well, I’m not sure if I’ve ever binged out like that. Over the course of two days, I finished two shows, and made significant progress in two more.

I blame Netflix. I hardly ever turn Netflix on these days, but just for shits and giggles I decided to see what was on there, and boom, binge. I think maybe it’s just that Netflix makes it so damn easy.

And as you can probably guess from the title of this post, one of the shows that I binged was American Vandal (the other was the first season of The Good Place, but I’ll get to that one in another post)

American Vandal is a Netflix original series that looks to poke fun at the kind of multi-part investigative crime documentaries that are kind of the rage these days — stuff like the podcast Serial or Netflix’s own Making a Murderer. Except instead of focusing on a high profile, violent crime, it’s stakes were considerably lower — who did the dicks? Which is to say, who spray-painted 27 dicks on 27 cars in the school parking lot?

But by taking such a mundane crime and framing it the same way as any of these other crime documentaries would (although in this case the documentarians are members of the high school’s AV Club), they could have a little fun.

When I saw the trailer the few months back, I was intrigued, because I thought that these sorts of shows were ripe for a bit of mockery right now, but I was also a bit nervous, as I wondered whether or not there was enough material to justify making it into a multi-part series rather than just a film.

Turns out I was wrong to be nervous, as not only was there more than enough material to justify the length, American Vandal ended up doing more than just poking fun at these sorts of investigative reports, asking questions about the place of privacy in the search for truth (a particularly relevant question after the controversy of Missing Richard Simmons), and providing a surprisingly honest look at the ups and downs of the high school years through a few different perspectives.

So to my surprise, American Vandal wasn’t just good TV, it’s actually great TV, and a spectacular gateway to rethinking our current passion for all things true crime. Well, at least until Making a Murderer: Season Two comes along.


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