The cancellation of the American vandal was a real crime

The comedic hook from “American Vandal” – what if there was a real detective documentary about a really stupid crime, like a teenager spray-painting a bunch of dicks on cars? – really only has enough mileage for a five-minute parody trailer on YouTube. He would feel stretched after a single episode, no matter an entire season. But the banal humor of “American Vandal” was simply a Trojan horse; the series takes its stories and characters seriously in such a way that audiences can’t help but get involved. It is no small feat to genuinely engage viewers in the mystery of which teacher ate a piece of chocolate-covered cat poop, which is why “American Vandal” is so impressive.

Many TV shows and movies have tried to tangle with modern technology and what ends up on the screen often ends up being one or the other. ridiculously inaccurate or a doomsday warning about how social media will kill us all. Another Netflix favorite, “Black Mirror”, was joked for repeatedly returning to “tech = evil”, with a satirical article by The toast memorably summarizing the show as “what if phones but too much?”

In contrast, “American Vandal” offers razor-sharp accuracy in its portrayal of technology as a crime-solving tool (in season one, high school detective Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund use memes to verify the suggestive nuances of texting. ” hey “with two Y’s; in season 2, they eliminate suspects by checking their social media posts for a particular glitch that only occurred on some iPhone models). Many programs are written from the perspective of adults who grew up before the internet was really a thing and view social media as superficial and silly or even evil. But “American Vandal” sees beauty in the “fake” versions of themselves that young people post online, noting that these digital self-portraits are actually a way to experiment with identities in search of the one that fits.

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Ultimately, what makes “American Vandal” great is his intense compassion for teenagers at the heart of his story. In his search for a culprit, he reveals that there are no direct villains or evil heroes. Confident and popular kids have their share of deep-seated insecurities. The most loved and respected teachers have secret pockets of prejudice and revenge.

“American Vandal” criticizes the way the true crime documentary genre takes real people and places them in the roles of villain or hero, protagonist or antagonist, putting their humanity aside as a drawback. When Peter and Sam segments one another to examine the possibility that either of them may be the vandal, they both end up being deeply hurt by the documentary’s cold eye on them. A celebratory moment at the end of season one is tainted by a schoolmate cornering Peter and asking him why he found it necessary to include private text messages revealing his hookup list in the documentary. He had almost no relevance to the investigation; it was simply private information turned into fodder for the content machine.

As Peter concludes in his final monologue for the second season of “American Vandal”: “We are not the worst generation, we are just the most exposed”.

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