“American Vandal” is a new Netflix original series set up as a parody crime-documentary, and it’s executed extremely well. As a person who watches many real crime documentaries I felt that this was a satirical, fun, and interesting take on the genre.
We follow the story of Peter Maldonado (played by Tyler Alvarez), along with his pal Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) as he tries to create a serious documentary about an injustice at his school; the accusation of vandalism without hard evidence. You can tell from the beginning that this show is more of a commentary on the subject of True-Crime stories since this vandalism is a prank; a prank involving the painting of several phallic objects on several faculty vehicles.
The student targeted by these accusations is Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro). Dylan has a less than reputable past, and he swears he didn’t do it, but with his word against the school board he is expelled; Peter and Sam are determined to find the truth.
The acting in this film is phenomenal: Tatro really stealing every scene he’s in as a truly believable high school senior stereotype, and I also have to give credit to actor Calum Worthy who played a terribly obnoxious and character so well to the point that you love to hate him. I felt everyone on the cast was having fun with this miniseries with most of the characters having charm and likeability.
One complaint on the acting though: I felt like the performance from Gluck left a bit more to be desired–his character was well written and believable, but his performance lacked the emotion of some of the others.
Netflix really hit the nail on the head when it came to writing a suspenseful, yet fun, mystery with this one. The entire time I was watching, I was looking for clues that perhaps the characters didn’t pick up until later, but the show was always one step ahead; every time there seemed to be a clear narrative that would close the case, a new piece of evidence would trash it and you’d just be left wanting to know what happens in the next episode.
Essentially what I’m saying is this show will keep you guessing until the very end with curveball after curveball with a satisfying ending to the main narrative. I say a satisfying ending to the main narrative because the story’s resolution itself felt both a bit too elongated, and a bit too abrupt.
Near the final episode they through in one last twist that could have been more interesting if it hadn’t been shoehorned in at the final 10 minutes of the show. If the writers had expanded the show to explain the final twist a bit more, or just taken it out completely, I feel like I would have come from it with an overall better experience.
Altogether, I thought this series was a fantastic story with great acting for the most part, and definitely worth a watch; that’s why I’m giving “American Vandal” a 9/10.