American Vandal: Season 2
Netflix's true-crime spoof returns for a second series and its psychological insights remain as potent as its jokes are puerile
Season one of American Vandal had three chief virtues. First, and most simply, it’s hilarious. Taking the form of a true-crime doc, it followed teen AV enthusiasts Peter (Alvarez) and Sam (Gluck) as they endeavoured to discover who spray-painted penises onto the cars in their school's teachers’ car park. Second, it's a wicked parody of the storytelling beats and the visual clichés of true-crime shows like The Jinx and Making of a Murderer. And third, it's a proper whodunnit – we really had to know “who drew the dicks”.
We’re pleased to report all three qualities are present and correct in this witty, ambitious sequel. During the meta opening episode, we discover that Peter and Sam’s school project was such a viral success that Netflix has bought the show and commissioned a follow-up. When they hear of another puerile crime, in this case, everyone at an exclusive Catholic school given explosive diarrhoea thanks to laxative-tainted lemonade, the game is afoot for our fresh-faced Holmes and Watson.
A pretentious doofus with a passion for exotic teas (Tope) has confessed to the crime, which the kids refer to as “The Brown-Out”, but something stinks about this case – and it’s not just that several more faeces-related pranks have been perpetrated by someone calling themselves “The Turd Burglar.”
The joy of American Vandal remains the earnest ways in which Peter and Sam document the juvenile crime, which grows funnier and more psychologically troubling as the investigation goes on. We learn about the various characters at the school and the myriad motives they may have for turning their place of learning into a scatological war zone. The shit-stained premise may put off some, but there’s nothing crude about American Vandal’s pin-sharp exploration of the cruelty of high school or the myriad pressures placed on young people. Come for the poo jokes; stay for the sociological insight.
American Vandal seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Netflix