The mockumentary-style crime spoof is too good for its own good. Scroll down for full report.
Only a month after its second season was released on Netflix, the Peabody Award winner and Emmy Award nominee ‘American Vandal’ was cancelled. The show follows two teenaged budding documentarians- Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund– as they set out to investigate acts of vandalism gripping two high schools. Season 1 centered on their school where someone had spray-painted penises on 27 cars belonging to the faculty, and season 2 focused on a Catholic private school where someone was inducing the entire school to uncontrollable pooping.
- It’s not owned by Netflix
- It has a very Gen-Z appeal
- It’s too good for its own good
The show is in the mockumentary style of comedy and satirizes the genre of true crime. It was released right when true crime content such as ‘Serial’ and ‘Making a Murderer’ was at its peak. However, something about the show didn’t hit the right notes with those at the top at Netflix, with the result that the show was prematurely canned. Let’s take a look at what went wrong.
It’s not owned by Netflix
This is one of the likeliest of reasons. ‘American Vandal’ is produced partly by CBS Studios, and Netflix doesn’t want to invest too much in shows that it doesn’t entirely own. Look at the fate of shows like ‘Luke Cage’ and ‘Iron Fist’, for example. Both these are not Netflix originals, and both were prematurely axed. Most shows for the streaming giant are developed in a three-season story arc format because usually, the platform allows its shows at least that many seasons. That these shows, as well as ‘American Vandal’, didn’t get a third season, then, is telling.
What’s more, “Deadline” also reported that the producers of the show were fielding interest elsewhere and were looking to sell the show to other venues. However, it’s been over a year since then, but ‘American Vandal’ Season 3 hasn’t yet been picked up by other platforms.
It has a very Gen-Z appeal
‘American Vandal’ is one of the few shows that deliver meaningful content using humour, without making fun of the very issues it seeks to raise. Especially in terms of the second season, the show dives into what’s it like to be a teenager living in an increasingly digital world.
“The show is an ode to a generation”, says creator Tony Yacenda, “and the way in which people can connect and relate, and acknowledging the challenges without damning a generation or social media in general.”
The showrunners wanted to ensure that they were not just slinging mud at Generation-Z – that is, those that were born during the internet age – but were showcasing an insightful portrayal of a generation that lives on social media and has the internet at its disposable at all times.
But perhaps that’s also why too many people could not take to the show. We’re far more used to treating this generation as a punching bag, condescendingly chiding the entire generation for being on the phone all the time. There might be a disjoint in the experience of other viewers, who may not be able to relate to what is being depicted on the show. Netflix doesn’t release data about its viewership, so we wouldn’t know for sure what the show’s demographics are, but this could be one reason why the streaming platform parted ways with ‘American Vandal’.
It’s too good for its own good
We may not have ‘American Vandal’ Season 3 because the show may just be too perfect for us. As this article argues, it may have been too good for us. It depicted teenagers the way they looked and sounded (unlike so many other shows that feature the lives of teenagers), it had truly interesting mysteries and was also quite insightful.
The show manages to raise issues pertinent to contemporary times, without making fun of any of them. For instance, portraying the reality of living in a world such as ours, with the internet culture and social media frenzy.
How many shows talk about what it means to live in a world that has the internet in it, more than just referring to it by depicting chat bubbles on the screen? And how many shows use parody as a device to take a thoughtful look at the real world? Being both hilarious and compelling, it is quite a shame that Netflix just let the show go. The show was a rare and unique opportunity to take an insightful look at contemporary times, and for once try to understand Gen-Z, instead of constantly correcting them