What follows is a review by student writer Jon Reinhart. The views do not represent the editorial opinions or content of the Siskiyou or Southern Oregon University. Due to profanity, reader discretion is advised.
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There is no school today at Hanover high school. It is an administration work day. Around 2:30 P.M. an act of vandalism occurs in the staff parking lot. Twenty-seven cars are spray painted with giant red penises. The police and news stations rush to the scene. Faculty question how they will drive home with humongous red rockets on the hood of there cars.
What will their neighbors say?
All the surveillance footage has been wiped from the school server. This means the culprit must have had access to the server, and knowledge of how it works. This seemingly funny prank, however, has added up to more than $100,000 in damages. The school district immediately points the blame at senior Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), a chronic trouble maker who many teachers have already given up on. With seemingly no hard evidence to work from, documentary filmmaker, and sophomore, Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alverez) sets out to find the answer to the simple question, “Who drew the dicks?”
“American Vandal,” Netflix’s recent mockumentary series is an absolute thrilling time that had me busting a gut laughing and reminiscing about my own high school “problems.” The show is done in an investigative style similar to the hit Netflix show “Making a Murderer,” and Sarah Koenig’s popular podcast “Serial.” The investigator and narrator hold the viewer’s hands and guides them through the facts, suspicions, and accusations that make up the story. It ends up being a rollercoaster ride of high school drama as we see Maldonado, and his co-producer Sam Eklund (Griffin Gluck), reveal a bit too much information at times.
When I first chose to binge watch “American Vandal,” I did not know that it was a mockumentary. There was no hype surrounding this show, and the first episode had me constantly questioning if it was actually shot and edited by a high school sophomore. I was let down when I found out it was not, but I was also intrigued that a show based on such a silly topic had carried my attention so far.
Let’s be real, we all knew that kid in high school who thought drawing male genitalia was the funniest thing on the planet. That kid would be my number one suspect. By the second episode, however, I was drawing assumptions of my own about who spray painted the cocks.
As the show continues, we learned more about the lives of these Hanover High School students. We find out there is absolutely no way Alex Trimboli (Calum Worthy) got a hand job from Sarah Pearson (Saxon Sharbino) at summer camp. We also find out that history teacher Mr. Kraz (Ryan O’Flanagan) tries way too hard to be cool, and probably should not be working with kids. But most importantly, we find out more about Dylan Maxwell. We learn how his alibi is questionable, and how he has been suspended before for drawing a shaft and balls on a whiteboard. On the other hand, we also find out how he never forgets to draw the ball hairs in his artwork. A key compositional point lacking in the graffiti. Things are not adding up, and Peter want’s to know why.
The show grows and follows different suspects each episode. Every possible scenario is explored, but as the popularity of the documentary grows to viral status in the show, questions of freedom of speech are raised. At the same time Dylan Maxwell is facing a prison sentence.
Did the system fail him? Or did it blame him for a crime he did not commit? The show has already been renewed for a second season in 2018. As the investigation is still technically open, I cannot wait to see where the story goes next.