Don’t Be a Dick: American Vandal, a New Mocumentary

Scandal, conspiracy, lies and dicks. These are just a few of the themes from the new Netflix original, American Vandal.  This eight-episode mocumentary will have you biting your nails and sitting on the edge of your seat.  With a cliffhanger at the end of every 35-minute episode, there is no way that you won’t binge-watch American Vandal.

American VandalIt was an in-service day for teachers and the students all had the day off.  27 cars got tagged with 27 dicks in red spray paint.  Senior Dylan Maxwell is immediately pegged for doing it, being the class clown and known “dick drawer”, it just made sense to the school board and one specific teacher who has it out for him, Mrs. Shapiro.

Sophomores Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund think otherwise.

Peter and Sam are the two students that make a documentary, that may not prove Dylan innocent, but will reveal the truth as to what happened on that day.  With a supporting cast of students to interview, Peter and Sam seem to have their work cut out for them.  Through clever and somewhat crude means, the boys point to Dylan’s innocence, with silly things like the lack of ball hairs, and the different shape of the head than Dylan’s usual drawings.

The idea for American Vandal came to creators Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault in 2016 after seeing the success of the Netflix original documentary How to Make a Murderer.  They set out to emulate such documentaries as How to Make a Murderer, Serial and The Jinx.  In many ways, American Vandal makes light-hearted fun of the way documentaries like these are set up.  An article from Vanity Fair does a great job discussing this.

When they went to Netflix with the idea, they had to assure the creative executives that their series would be “more than just a dick joke sketch”.   American Vandal premiered on Netflix on September 15, 2017.  Ever since its release, critics and audiences alike have been raving about American Vandal.  It has a critic review consensus of 96% and an audience rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.  It also received 8.3/10 on IMdb.

One of the greatest things about American Vandal is how relatable it is to actual high school students.  Through social media and obvious, but classic, stereotypes you really feel immersed in their world.  Yacenda was quoted in an article on The Verge saying:

“The common threads were that high school kids don’t use Facebook much. Certainly not with their own friends. They use a lot of Snapchat. Instagram is the main one. But I guess you learn that kids have their public Instagram, and then they’ll have a private Instragram for just their close friends, so they  can post memes or whatever.”

Yacenda and Perrault do a great job of showing all types of high school students.  Alex Trimboli is the brown-nosing honor student who is referred to as “a little bitch”, Christa Carlyle is the student body president and is always doing crazy stunts for charity, Sara Pearson is the popular, hottest girl in school and Dylan and his friends are the burn out stoners.

American VandalSo what do you think?  Does this sound like a show that you’d be interested in?  Is the idea of minors at parties and hooking up something that should be on television?  If you have seen the show, try not to spoil it for others.  I hope you are convinced enough to watch this mystery of the spray-painted dicks.

-Mitch Diamond

9 thoughts on “Don’t Be a Dick: American Vandal, a New Mocumentary

  1. This is not normally something that I would be interested in watching. However, this post definitely made me intrigued. In fact, when I watched the trailer to this series, I could not stop laughing. It takes a comedic turn on the chaos of growing up in this generation while involving a lot of technological aspects of this time period. The producer/writer did a great job at creating something that everyone can relate to who has grown up in this societal shift.

  2. I found this show to be really intriguing and one of the few ‘high school dramas’ that I’ve enjoyed in the last few years. I definitely attribute that to the writing since the characters motivations are much more realistic to actual teenagers. I hope this show does well and gets a second season, it really deserves to get another one!

  3. This show is perfect for me. The show did a really good job not making it just about dicks. I love the way this series was edited to make it feel like an actual documentary. I wanted an episode with a friend and he thought everything was real.

  4. I really enjoyed watching this show. I did not know it was even a thing until this blog post, so I am glad that I made me want to watch it. I thought it was smart of the show to tie in social media. It is a very clever thing to do with everyone being online today. They do a very well job of making it seem like an actual documentary

  5. I’ve never seen making a murderer mostly because stuff like that puts me off due to it’s depressing subject matter. The story arc seem like it’d be a lot of fun and having a teacher that you can’t stand is something everyone can relate to. This seems like something I would be super down to watch. I’m willing to watch one episode of just about any comedy so I will probably end up watching this one day. 10/10 presentation by the way, well done on not backing out of saying dick.

  6. I hadn’t heard about this show until someone mentioned it in a class and I was immediately intrigued, and it almost perfectly captures the feel of the documentaries it spoofs. What as especially (and oddly) satisfying the relatable and cringe-worthy moments that rival that of The Office, that almost hurt to watch.

  7. This show is hilarious! I love how it is taken so seriously, and it follows the same kind of outline as Making a Murdered. I wonder if this will be something that sticks around for many more seasons, or something that we will forget about in a few years.

  8. I watched this in the first week it came out and finished it in two days. Until someone in class mentioned it being related to “Making a Murderer,” I never knew that it was. The series was made so well in my opinion that I never would have thought this. When I watched this series, it just seemed like some funny series mainly targeted towards the millennials.

  9. I loved the show. It had a very immature idea but it worked so well. I wasn’t just so cheap little gag either, it went into great detail. I saw it was renewed for a second season, I just don’t know if it has any of the original characters.

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