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Now go watch Netflix own true-crime send-up

Tyler Alvarez as Peter and Griffin Gluck as Sam, in Netflix’s American Vandal.


Do not Google “who did the dicks” when you do not wish to spoil the season one finale of Netflix’s 2017 sleeper hit, American Vandal. In case you’re considering you’ll be able to’t think about a world during which you would submit that search question to the algorithmic ether, you clearly have not had the pleasure of constructing the mocu-series’ acquaintance. In my expertise, not sufficient folks have and that is a disgrace.

It could possibly be the present’s prickly premise — American Vandal’s unofficial log line is “Serial, but with dick jokes.” Perhaps most individuals, myself excluded, will not say, “You had me at dick jokes.” However this is the place I undertake the whiny voice befitting somebody who enjoys rest room humor as a lot as I do: You simply should tryyyyyy it. Truuuuust me!

In case you take pleasure in both Serial or dick jokes, although, I can nearly assure you will love American Vandal, created by Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda of CollegeHumor. And when you’re fortunate sufficient to take pleasure in each (and, truthfully, who amongst us… ?), this canceled-before-its-time thriller sequence deserves a distinguished spot in your Netflix “My List.”

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The crime on the middle of American Vandal is an act of vandalism that is NSFW.


Set within the not-quite-historical 12 months of our Lord 2015, American Vandal is an incisive, deadpan send-up of the true-crime style, which skilled a outstanding renaissance in the identical pop cultural epoch. In 2014, we had the podcast Serial, in fact, after which HBO and Netflix delivered The Jinx and Making a Murderer, respectively, briefly order. (Cult basic The Staircase was additionally dredged from the depths of 2004 with new episodes round this time, to satisfy the viewers’s insatiable demand for the examination and narrativization of evidentiary trivialities.)

However American Vandal units itself other than the true-crime milieu by being… not true. Hulu has since gotten in on this fictional-true-crime beat with Only Murders in the Building, a comedy starring Selena Gomez that joins a growing tradition of mockumentaries, parodies, satires and spoofs of the style, which American Vandal pioneered. So when you’ve binged Solely Murders and have not but seen American Vandal, you have acquired some catching as much as do.

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The scene of the crime in American Vandal.


Set in a nondescript West Coast highschool, American Vandal is, on the earth of the present, filmed by sophomore Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez), an aspiring documentary filmmaker, and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck), his finest good friend. Their college, Hanover Excessive, is reeling from a heinous crime: Somebody has spray-painted dicks on 27 vehicles within the academics’ parking zone, and the academics demand justice. A witness to the crime, the sweaty-foreheaded Alex Trimboli, factors a finger at Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), the college’s resident burnout. And everybody’s fairly content material to put the blame on Dylan. Everybody, that’s, besides Peter and Sam.


Jimmy Tatro as Dylan in American Vandal.


Dylan has a superb motive, a nasty alibi, and a well-documented propensity for dick doodles. However with a bit digging, it turns into clear that not every little thing provides up. For one factor, Alex Trimboli is a infamous liar. (Did he actually get a hand job from the most popular lady at school, or did she merely textual content him “heyy” with two Ys?) And one other: There was no ball hair included within the spray painted graffiti. Dylan’s dick pics at all times embrace ball hair.

The sequence is populated by the type of hyperparticular archetypes not seen because the sexually energetic band geeks of Imply Ladies. Social media use at Hanover Excessive is unrelenting, however the present brooks no hand-wringing over display screen time. The truth is, the vast majority of the clues added to Peter and Sam’s string-crossed corkboard come from the digital detritus of Snapchat, Twitch, Instagram and textual content messages, and the viewers comes to understand the implausible surfeit of saved Snaps taken the evening of “Nana’s celebration.”

“Who did the dicks?” turns into American Vandal’s “Who shot JR?” (And it is at all times “dicks,” by no means penises, schlongs and even ding-a-lings.) Within the present’s second season, the central query morphs into, “Who’s the Turd Burglar?” and its pursuit of justice is as childishly humorous as season one’s. The one distinction is that by season two you are not stunned at how humorous it may be when such lowbrow material is given the intellectual remedy. It is humorous as a result of it is silly.

What I like most about American Vandal is its potential to evolve. It might be straightforward sufficient for some studio exec or Huge Information bot to give you the “Serial meets dick jokes” premise and assume the scripts will simply write themselves. However my hunch is that even essentially the most gifted yarn-spinners cannot carry an eight-episode arc on the backs of dicks alone. As a substitute American Vandal is a Trojan (tee-hee) horse, luring you in with dick-jokes sweet, then serving up a healthful, plant-based indictment of our lurid curiosity in the true crimes that traumatize actual folks.

Earlier than the present reaches its polemic finale, although, it indulges the very whims it will definitely eviscerates, by which I imply it turns into a genuinely engrossing thriller present. So possibly you do not like rest room humor, however you should like the concept of getting your cake and consuming it too. In its manner, American Vandal is sort of a nicotine patch, delivering a protected dosage of your craving to mitigate future hurt. It is all of the indulgence of the true-crime expertise with out the guilt of treating somebody’s dying like must-see TV. Plus, it is humorous.



American Vandal’s actually compelling central thriller hits all the precise true-crime beats: alibis examined and lied about; crimson herrings; CGI reproductions of alleged dockside hand jobs; a dick-drawing time-test to see if Alex Trimboli’s purported timeline is even possible. Season one even has its personal Nisha call — The Kiefer Sutherland voice mail — and there is a thriving second-screen experience waiting for you on Reddit and in spoiler-laden theory roundups when you’re the rabbit-hole sort.

Sadly, it appears American Vandal season three could also be a hopeless dream at this level. Although preliminary headlines round Netflix’s ouster appeared promising (“‘American Vandal’ Canceled at Netflix, Will Be Shopped Elsewhere,” as an example), Perrault and Yacenda have since pivoted their raillery towards the world of esports, with a forthcoming Paramount Plus mockumentary called Players. However possibly, simply possibly, if sufficient folks take my recommendation and provides the present an opportunity, the streaming gods will reward us with one other season.

Who did the dicks, certainly. Give the present quarter-hour, and you will have to know, too.

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