American Vandals asks the hard questions while you determine who-done-it

Hannah Stere, Contributing Writer

     Netflix has been known for a few years now as a creator of original content. Several shows have become cultural phenomenon like “Orange is the New Black,” “Making a Murderer” and “13 Reasons Why.” Netflix’s new show, “American Vandal,” is now becoming one of these beloved programs.
The show, which became available for streaming on Sept. 15, is a mockumentary, styled after the hit show, “Making a Murderer,” about the wrongful accusing of a high school student of a high cost prank.

      The prank in question is the drawing of 27 penises on 27 cars in the faculty lot. The accused is Dylan Maxwell, a senior, known for drawing penises, smoking weed and disrespecting teachers. The first episode has you convinced that there is no one else who could have done it, but as the “documentary”, shot by two AV students, continues, you start to see that many students, and even faculty had a motive.

      This series is addictive to say the least, as the 30 to 40-minute runtime makes the eight-episode series go fast. I finished the series in just one night. It’s a mystery that leaves you theorizing after every episode; I seemed to forget that the whole thing was scripted and I ended up craving justice for Dylan and googling everything I could about the show.

     “American Vandal” stars a series of young adults as the high school aged students featured. Unlike most movies and TV shows, “American Vandal” casted age-appropriate actors who looked and sounded like typical high school students. The actions as well as the interests of the characters all seemed to be spot on, which added this element to the story that built up this realism. If it hadn’t been stated in the show’s description or I hadn’t recognized YouTuber Jimmy Tatro as lead suspect Dylan, I would have thought the show was a real documentary.

     Despite the majority of the show having some somber spots, it’s mostly comedy. The jokes, even though all the episodes are named after genital-based puns and the word “dick” is uttered so many times during the series that I lost count, are very smart and subtle in order to avoid undermining the somber tone the show is based on.

     You can’t help but laugh  while the “directors” of the documentary, sophomores Peter and Sam, create cases against themselves, or when Dylan’s group of friends, “The Way Back Boys” describe that pranks they pull on their YouTube channel.

    Although there is a heavy comedic element at play, “American Vandal” also deals with a very serious issue which is the topic of the American school system. Peter, the narrator, points out that Dylan was originally the only suspect, but he also asks why? They cover whether or not students like Dylan are set up to fail under the system or if their actions are truly theirs alone, if Dylan had been as a known dick drawer but possessed no discipline background, would he still have been blamed for  the barrage of cocks?

      At first, “American Vandal” seems like nothing; just another Netflix original series with a low budget that was thrown together. But a deeper dive reveals a show with comedic value, quality editing, a great cast and a fantastic mystery that will keep you guessing through all eight episodes. The ending will leave you wondering, who really drew these dicks?