Netflix, you've done it again. "American Vandal" is a Netflix original which first made its debut in 2017. Although a satirical take on the Netflix true crime documentaries, it still featured characters to root for and lots of laughs. Unlike the first season, however, season two tackled real issues that our generation is faced with on a daily basis, such as the dangers of social media and bullying.
In case you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, "American Vandal" is a mockumentary that's centered around one big question: Who drew the dicks? Two students, Sam and Peter, take on the case as part of their school project, but also to exonerate Dylan, a known prankster who's accused of spraypainting dicks on the faculty's cars. While the plot of the show is kind of ridiculous, that's what makes it so fun to watch. The interviews, the compelling analysis of evidence, the flashbacks and more all make it look and feel like any other murder documentary found on Netflix. And that's the point. It wouldn't be as funny if it wasn't mocking the seriousness or structure of a true documentary.
*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD*
Aside from the big mystery surrounding who really drew the dicks, that's about all season one covers. Sure, it proves that you can't judge a book by its cover, because SPOILER ALERT: Dylan did NOT draw the dicks! But even then, that message is pretty surface level in my opinion. Season two is just as absurd as the first, but this time, it reminds you that your social presence online and how you treat others can have serious consequences.
Season two's big question is this: Who is the Turd Burglar? Sam and Peter are back, but this time they're working on their senior project at an entirely different school, St. Bernadine's Catholic. There are multiple crimes featured this season (which I don't want to spoil), but basically, they all involve shit. Yes, actual shit. The ending, which took a lot of twists and turns along the way, is an act of revenge. The Turd Burglar's final crime, which he calls "The Dump", is leaking obscene photos of his classmates and teachers that he obtained from catfishing. This act goes beyond some stupid prank. It's something that happens in many schools today.
Social media has changed the way our society works. Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram are all fun and games until they're not. For starters, if you're DMing someone on Instagram who you've never met in person, you probably shouldn't be sending them photos of your junk. In general, you never know what the person on the receiving end of those pictures is going to do with them. They can screenshot, screen record, save or do anything with that picture, and you may never even know.
Additionally, maybe try watching what you put online. It's been said millions of times, but it's true—once it's on the internet, it never truly goes away. The Turd Burglar never would have become the Turd Burglar if it wasn't for what he wrote on Twitter.
And finally, one of the biggest themes of this season was bullying. The student accused of the crimes, Kevin, was only targeted because he was a victim of bullying, and they needed someone to blame the crimes on. The police and faculty made it seem like Kevin wanted to "get back" at his classmates for years of torment. This presents a problem in itself. The school was actively trying to cover up a crime for the sake of the school's reputation. How many other schools do you think this has happened in?
The last episode gets pretty real. It discusses the point of view of the victims and the culprit. They talk about the struggles of fitting in, peer pressure, finding your identity and growing up. And for these few moments, you almost forget you're watching a show whose main premise is shit. It's a refreshing break that Netflix definitely needed to include.
While I mainly watched "American Vandal" for its absurdity and satire, it was nice to see Netflix use its platform to start a discussion on these topics. Hopefully, these topics will make it further into the limelight.