True-crime shows and documentaries have been around for as long as viewers can remember, but “American Vandal” is not your average true-crime documentary. The show is a satirical yet engaging crime series and not for the faint of heart. The capstone of the plotline is finding out who spray painted a certain crude male body part across 27 faculty vehicles.
While the series revoles around not-so-serious material, the approach follows a realistic crime investigation and is well done. The obscenities and high school characters keep viewers entertained while the genuine mystery keeps viewers captivated.
Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro) is expelled from school because he fits the suspect description without a doubt. However, two technologically inclined students, Peter (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam (Griffin Gluck), take to creating a documentary and raising some important questions about the evidence.
The story starts with subtle jokes, but as the narrative develops, the content becomes more and more compelling. The actors are young and unknown; however, the delivery by the characters makes the series realistic to high school life. Even though they might be newcomers, they display effective and believable acting talent. Many stories that are set in the high school scene do not often portray the experience accurately, but only a few scenes in the series stick out as improbable.
The main role of Dylan Maxwell is perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the documentary series. His character is simple-minded, but not so much so that it becomes impractical. The actor seems to come up with some of his lines on the spot which can come off a little rough in other circumstamces, but here the audience can easily come to appreciate his delivery as they watch.
Many viewers may also see the documentary as a commentary on the criminal justice system as well as the public school system. A student who looks guilty, with evidence stacked against him, actually might not be guilty after all. If it were not for the vast amount of time two high school students had on their hands, there would be no questions at all about who would take the fall.
While much of the plot cannot be articulated due to its unrefined nature, “American Vandal” put simply is well-done. The show is multifaceted, with a humor feature as well as an intriguing scandal. If one is willing to give it a chance, “American Vandal” is sure to hold the attention of viewers until the very last episode.