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October 8, 2018 | by  | in TV |
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American Vandal Season 2: The Shit Show That is Anything But(t)

“There were two types of different poop. One was kind of a clay mixture that was used in the re-enactments (…) then for the cell phone footage of the brownout and stuff like that, it was a conversation with our production designer where we looked at different types of poop on the Bristol scale, some more runny than others, and we picked kind of a variety.” –Tony Yacenda, programme creator

(don’t google the Bristol scale).
Who would’ve thought the mockumentary about graffitied penises would end up being one of the most creative and well thought out Netflix shows of 2017?
It’s hard not to sound stupid when calling American Vandal a masterpiece to someone who hasn’t seen it, but in reality it’s one of the smartest shows out there. At its core, the first season was an emotional story of one man and his quest for innocence, told by found-footage Snapchats and NSFW 3D graphics. It had everyone shouting at their screens with the agonised call of “who drew the dicks?!”, leaving Season Two with a lot to live up to – and holy shit, it might even be better.
Who is The Turd Burglar?
A question that haunted me for the whole three days it took to binge the second season (pacing myself, of course). This time, the story focuses on a Catholic School in Washington that is being plagued by a prankster with a passion for poop. After the cafeteria lemonade is contaminated with laxatives, causing “The Brownout”, the AV crew is called out to solve the case. Over the course of eight episodes, Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck – which is honestly a great name that they should have just let him use) get to work on identifying the vandal.
Over anything else, American Vandal is a comedy, and it shows. The first half of the season is definitely more laugh-heavy, with one-liners delivered in deadpan pieces to camera by “students” with great names and even funnier stories. The commitment to the ludicrous nature of the situation is awe-inspiring, as is the seriousness with which the characters take the case, often causing viewers to have to remind themselves that what they’re watching isn’t real. One thing lacking is the presence of an emotional investment in the story from the documentarians: whereas Peter and Sam were directly linked to the scandal at Hanover High, here they are outsiders brought along for their skill. The repercussions they faced towards the end of the first season for the trauma they had caused their classmates was a highlight of the series, but a change was needed, and their separation contributes to Season Two’s overall much darker story.
As the episodes go on, it becomes clear that The Turd Burglar is a much more serious criminal than the Dick-Drawer (yes, it does feel silly writing that). This season isn’t afraid to confront society and goes balls to the wall (no pun intended) with the level of detail used in deconstructing it. The characters featured all have social media presences and are some of the most accurate teen representations in the media right now. With the acknowledgement of Netflix as a funder, the show takes on the full tropes of the true crime genre – using re-enactments and field experts as interviewees. From analysing language use to emoji choices, Peter and Sam take no shit (pun fully intended) in their investigation.
The season concludes as a powerful commentary on how social media is used nowadays, forcing you to confront the part you play in the online sphere. It is an exposé disguised as a barrel of laughs, that manages to leave you reflecting on your role in society more so than any “real” documentary has achieved in recent years.

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