Leaving a Mark
All Backed Up
Back for a second season, American Vandal continues its mockumentary format with renewed infamy; a self-realized parodical viewpoint combines with a brand new mystery to uncover. With 8 episodes to boot and most of the series following the same format and style as last year, it was always going to be difficult for American Vandal to hit the same illustrious heights the first achieved. While the self-contained story has a more definitive conclusion this time around, leaving little doubt who the culprit is, American Vandal doesn’t quite do enough to match the success of its surprisingly compelling first season.
The series opens with Peter and Sam discussing their newfound fame following the success of the first season of the show. Remaining in-character, the two then go on to discuss the numerous requests they’ve had to solve other mysteries around America, including an actual murder case. Settling on one particularly intriguing mystery, the two high schoolers travel to a private school to uncover a mystery involving a self-proclaimed “Turd Burglar” – a figure responsible for toxic warfare in a private high school. False leads, surprising revelations and a shocking conclusion all combine to form the crux of American Vandal’s second season, chock full of poop jokes, slapstick comedy and plenty of colourful characters uncovered through the 8 episodes.
While a lot of the jokes feel recycled from the first, a few well-placed interviews with behavioural experts make for a hilarious contrast to the incredulous story featuring a “Turd Burglar” tormenting a private school. Aside from these bursts of orginality, the same style of crude humour is woven throughout the narrative here, evolving from dick to poop jokes this time around. Those looking for a more maturely written mockumentary or a different style than what’s been shown before will certainly be left wanting but the self-contained mystery is good enough to see you through to the ending, leaving little doubt who commited the crimes.
American Vandal seems to be somewhat aware of the criticism around its lack of a definitive answer last season, closing all plot threads and clouds of doubt in its final episode, revealing just who the Turd Burglar is. It’s a nice touch and one that finishes the show on a somewhat optimistic note – one final monologue that speaks to us about our online presence and how we treat each other. Although somewhat contrived, the message does work well to finalise the series.
So does American Vandal do enough to justify a second season? In a way it does; the conclusive ending and a self-contained story full of twists and turns certainly makes for an entertaining watch. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel or do anything particularly original, those looking for more of the same will certainly be pleased with this second season. The humour still delivers the goods, albeit in a slightly contrived and recycled way and there’s just enough intrigue with the mystery to keep you watching until the end. American Vandal’s second season may be full of poop but the overall quality of the series is anything but. American Vandal does just enough to see it over the finish line but those expecting something as refreshingly original as the first will be left a little disappointed.