The topics of investigations for the mockumentary style, true-crime drama American Vandal might seem juvenile. The fact remains that the show was far from it. If anything, Netflix’s decision to cancel the season three of American Vandal after two critically-acclaimed seasons may prove to be a grave error. Read to know why.
- A look into the premise
- Netflix’s American Vandal: A realistic version of high school
- Spoiler alert! Some plotlines for you
- A much needed second season
Netflix must have had reasons to cancel American Vandal, its Peabody Award-winning show after two critically acclaimed seasons, but we are still wondering over it. One of the reasons could be the low viewership. The show does have a cult following because only the ones who have seen it can appreciate the nuanced facades the show can ignite.
American Vandal is a Pandora’s Box that offers much — discussions around the intricacies and difficulties of teenage lives, the impact of social media, the cliched tropes used by actual true-crime dramas, the casting and character stereotypes that popular shows tend to delve into and much more. You cannot convince a sceptic to watch the show without sounding like someone who enjoys below-the-belt jokes, or has a sense of humour of a sixth grader.
Another reason for Netflix to cancel American Vandal might be financial.
The streaming platform may have decided against putting their money on a show they did not completely own.
We won’t delve into much of season 2 here, because though very good, it does not surpass the greatness of season 1. But should that be a criterion for cancelling the show? Season 2 showed enough promise on why the makers deserve to continue telling the complex stories of teenagers through ridiculous investigative plotlines. The first season was based on a silly investigation into who was behind a rude graffiti sprayed across the teacher’s parking lot.
A look into the premise
Dylan Maxwell, a thick-necked jock, is a student known for painting rude pictures at every given opportunity. He is, automatically, believed to be the one behind the act. Consequently, Dylan is expelled from school although there is no real evidence to support his crime. The premise might not be about finding a murderer, but if you really consider it, Dylan’s future is on the line for an act he probably did not commit. Enter Peter Maldonado, a student journalist trying to find the truth. How does he first come to the conclusion that Dylan might not be the person behind the act? You need to watch the sho, because we are not giving out any spoilers.
The premise of American Vandal might seem unreal, but it is grounded in reality. High schools have history, students and teachers have relationships and skeletons in their closets that they don’t want to talk about. And yet, there are people outside that know about it. Everyone has an opinion on most things, like the Way Back Boys, Dylan Maxwell’s group of stoner friends who make inane prank videos for YouTube. With a few Snapchat videos, American Vandal welcomes the audience into a biosphere that feels not just plausible, but entirely lived-in and familiar. It captures the collective shared knowledge that exists among a student body effortlessly.
Netflix’s American Vandal: A realistic version of high school
We might go on as far as to say that American Vandal manages to depict the most realistic version of high school. All the types exist but devoid of any style and soundtrack, so we get an unfiltered look at the people. There is a jock, a typically racist boy who loves playing pranks, and unsurprisingly, is the one believed to be the one behind a crime. There is an activist printing up “Free Dylan” t-shirts and also the history teacher who wants to be considered cool.
The show surprisingly manages to be the only one that incorporates and investigates the impact of social media in the lives of teenagers. Many shows have been made on high-schoolers (13 Reasons Why), but they have not really gone into the depths of the subject. Moreover, a lot of characters in these shows barely even look like teenagers. American Vandal manages to touch upon modern-day apps and not only judges their impact, but very thoughtfully incorporates them as tools in the investigation and narrative of the series.
The impact of the overall investigation, the revelations made by several students and faculty members, the interviews, are used intricately. The conclusion does not impact just the boy believed to be behind the act, but the statements and accusations also have an impact on some of the other characters, their future in the school, and how they will be perceived.
Spoilers ahead! Read with caution
In the Emmy-nominated finale of the first season, Dylan Maxwell becomes a hero among the student body after he’s exonerated and the documentary about him goes viral. The elation soon turns into humiliation, because when Dylan sees the documentary for the first time at a projector party, he comes face-to-face with the perception held by many of his school mates about him. It involves people calling Dylan and his friends demeaning names. Soon, Dylan leaves the party to smoke a cigarette outside. Season 1 ends with Dylan actually committing an act of vandalism (caught on video camera this time). Why does he do it? Because everyone thought he was a vandal?
The student investigation also impacts the lives of other students. Sarah Pearson, whose hook-up list becomes a topic of discussion due to the video, is the worst-affected. She confronts the makers, asking what that had to do with the investigation. In trying to do some good, Peter Maldonado makes it worse for many. Eventually, it does not even help Dylan.
Another season? Much needed please!
For a show that deals with ridiculously silly investigations, American Vandal astonishes you with the real picture of the lives of high schoolers, their teachers, and even the adults that are a part of their circle. For all this and more, American Vandal deserved more. We just hope another season soon comes along, some other platform jumps to its rescue or Netflix changes its mind