Netflix Parodies Its Own True Crime Series with ‘American Vandal’

Netflix has scored a string of hits and carved out a niche for itself with its true crime documentary series. These series have not only been praised by audience and critics alike, but have also led to new interest in the cases they explore. Netflix’s Making a Murderer docuseries became a worldwide sensation and revived the push for leniency for one of the accused in that murder case, while The Keepers has led to a nationwide petition for that case to be reopened and confidential files to be released to the public. Aside from those well-known series, Netflix has also produced documentaries examining the JonBenet Ramsey murder case and Amanda Knox trial. After these widely successful true crime series, Netflix has now decided it’s time to parody their own success with a new satirical take on the genre called American Vandal.

American Vandal is a mockumentary exploring the fictional case of Dylan Maxwell, a high school senior accused of vandalizing dozens of cars by spray painting the male member on them. In the series journalist Peter Maldanaldo​ (Tyler Alvarez) seeks to uncover the truth of this perhaps-not-too-heinous crime allegedly perpetrated by Maxwell, played by YouTube star Jimmy Tatro.

The trailer shows that American Vandal is clearly playing directly on themes taken from Making a Murderer, in which it was suggested that the alleged murderer in that case, Steven Avery, did not have the mental capacity necessary to commit and cover up such a crime. “They say he deleted the security footage… there’s just no way,” one student is heard to say in the American Vandal trailer, “He’s the dumbest person I’ve ever met.” The series even seems to reference common criticisms lobbed at its two most popular true crime series as a school administrator is shown stating “He’s just trying to convince you of some sort of conspiracy. There just isn’t one.”

American Vandal was produced by CBS Television and FunnyOrDie. The first season premieres exclusively on Netflix on September 15th.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley

Brett lives at the foot of the ancient Appalachian mountains in Asheville, North Carolina and writes about technology, science, and culture.
Disclosure: Streaming Observer is supported by readers. Articles may contain referral links. For more information, see the disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Brett Tingley