Netflix’s ‘American Vandal’ Should Be Your Next Binge-Watch

Perfect for the true crime fan
Perfect for the true crime fan

To say the true crime genre is having a moment would be an understatement. New documentaries are coming out left right and centre, there are tons of podcasts to choose from, and it’s impossible for one person to read every true crime book out there. Like any huge trend, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to satirize the obsession with true crime. Who better than Netflix, the creator of one of the most talked about true crime obsessions in recent years, Making a Murderer?

Netflix teamed up with Funny or Die to release American Vandal, a mockumentary series about the aftermath of a high school prank that left twenty-seven faculty cars vandalized with phallic images. Senior “class clown” Dylan Maxwell is accused of committing the crime and expelled from school but then a fellow student starts to question his guilt and decides to investigate.

What follows is an in-depth look at the timeline of events, and theories on who else could have done it including their alibis and possible motives for committing the crime. Each episode presents new evidence that both points at Dylan’s obvious guilt or could help to prove his innocence. Even though he seems guilty at first, after a little digging, it’s clear that not everyone (especially a particular eye witness) can be trusted.

That uncertainty is exactly what has made shows like Making a Murderer and podcasts like Serial so popular. There are so many possible ways things could have gone that finding out what really happened is next to impossible, so we all speculate and theorize based on the evidence we have. The show also highlights how important credibility and reputation is. Dylan is a class clown who never seemed to care about getting in trouble. He has a Youtube channel full of videos of himself pulling pranks on people and he’s called “a known dick drawer”.

At one point, a teacher convinced of Dylan’s guilt says that if he wasn’t the one that drew the graffiti, he must be the unluckiest kid in the world. That argument is often used in complicated cases where there’s so much evidence pointing at someone that there’s just no way it could all be a coincidence. We want someone to blame so we’ll choose the most likely culprit and ignore the evidence that they didn’t do it.

Just like real true crime documentaries, American Vandal is binge watch-worthy for its cliffhanger endings and constantly shifting most-likely-suspect. It shows how even if someone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, they’ll be convicted in the public eye no matter what they do.

We know from the popularity of comedy-true crime podcasts like Last Podcast on the Left and My Favorite Murder that people like a little humour mixed in with their true crime. American Vandal provides the comedy and it makes you think about your fascination with cases that have no clear answer. What more could you ask for in your binge-watching material?

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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