Netflix’s True Crime Parody American Vandal Nails Every Convention of the Genre

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True crime as a genre has come back in a big way, with podcasts, networks, and filmmakers revisiting past incidents that inspire curiosity, horror, and suspicion. As a genre, it not only powerfully dives into intimately personal character studies, it also illuminates much of the way biases play into a flawed justice system, sometimes even providing a kind of justice. The public scrutiny these investigations invite have even, on occasion, brought on actual change for their subjects.

With such a wave of popularity, parodies like the upcoming American Vandal from Netflix are inevitable. The network itself has been home to some of these series, like the harrowing and brutal The Keepers to the sinister Making a Murderer. They seriously used every convention. Childhood home videos? Check. Dramatic footage from the scene of the crime that lingers on road signs and other items? Check. The dramatic filmmaker introduction? You betcha. Along with all the infographic and solemn footage, this all looks so well executed you can’t help but laugh at the fact that the inciting incident is a dick joke.

The synopsis reads:

“From co-creators Tony Yacenda (Pillow Talking) and Dan Perrault (Honest Trailers), and showrunner Dan Lagana (Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous), American Vandal is a half-hour true-crime satire that explores the aftermath of a costly high school prank that left twenty-seven faculty cars vandalized with phallic images.

“Over the course of the eight-episode season, an aspiring sophomore documentarian investigates the controversial and potentially unjust expulsion of troubled senior (and known dick-drawer) Dylan Maxwell. Not unlike its now iconic true-crime predecessors, the addictive American Vandal will leave one question on everyone’s minds until the very end: Who drew the dicks?”

Honestly, the trailer is cut together so well I almost can’t imagine a half-hour being as funny, but now I’m consumed with curiosity. I’m also sure there’ll be some kind of great twist at the end. True crime fans, what do you think about American Vandal?

(image: screencap)

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