In 2015, Making a Murderer debuted on Netflix (a globally popular streaming service/the reason your girlfriend doesn’t work out anymore) to much attention and acclaim. It was a documentary about Steven Avery, the man with the worst luck of all time. Despite its title, the show did NOTHING to instruct us on how to make a murderer (much like how How to Train Your Dragon didn’t teach us how to train dragons). I fucking hate false advertising.
Making a Murderer was a fascinating watch and was also indicative of a trend: our obsession with shows about true crime. The two most popular examples are obviously Making a Murderer and the hit podcast Serial. This brings us to a new Netflix show called American Vandal, a parody of true crime documentaries (and an insanely clever, ridiculously funny one at that).
The mockumentary follows two teenaged documentarians trying to get to the bottom of a crime and find some solid answers. The crime?
Someone spray painted a bunch of dicks on faculty members’ cars in the parking lot of a high school. The student blamed is Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), an obnoxious tryhard known for his attention whore behavior and unfunny pranks. He gets expelled for it. But was he framed?!?! They decide to look into it.
What makes American Vandal so clever and funny is that it plays it straight. It treats everything that’s going on with complete seriousness and a very dark vibe. There’s no winking at the audience after corny cock jokes or double entendres; it treats the dick graffiti with the same severity you’d see people treat a first degree homicide. The humor doesn’t come from individual jokes, but rather the fact that the whole thing feels JUST like a real true crime documentary.
On top of that, what’s impressive is that the characters feel pretty three-dimensional; all these dumbass teenagers feel like real, complex human beings. American Vandal paints a realistic portrait of high schoolers, complete with all their unintentional hilariousness and annoying BS. You feel like you know Dylan, seeing as everyone knew a guy like him in high school and we all wanted to strangle him with dental floss in the hallway.
The humor and complexity of American Vandal mainly comes into play as the documentarians investigate every single detail of the crime. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but just know that it’s absurd, dumb, over-the-top in a good way, and all played with a totally straight face.
The surprising thing about American Vandal is that by the end, it becomes a genuinely intriguing mystery. As silly as it all is, you’re seriously glued to the screen wondering who was behind this crime of the century. This show was a great piece of satire and one of the funniest things I’ve seen this year. Watch it before I draw a dick on your car..
Image via YouTube