An Unbiased and Completely True Review Of..."American Vandal: Season 2"
What's It All About?
St. Bernadine Catholic School in Bellevue, WA has a problem. There is a poop crime vandal causing trouble for students and staff. Our intrepid investigators from Season One are back on the case, flying to Washington to see if they can crack this mystery before things get worse.
It all starts on a November day when during the lunch period of the school day, almost the entire school body has episodes of explosive diarrhea, overloading the bathrooms, trashcans, sinks, and any other convenient receptacle on hand for the panicked students to relieve themselves in. The students nickname this horror "The Brownout". It is then that the culprit behind this poop crime lets himself or herself be known under the moniker of The Turd Burglar.
This, however, only proves to be the first poop crime in the school. It is followed by an incident with a Pinata, a few T-Shirt launchers, an Advent Calendar, and lastly a mysterious "Dump".
We find out earlier, that a student willingly confesses to the crimes, a student by the name of Kevin McClain. His statements are inconsistent, his ability to demonstrate how the crimes were perpetrated are awkward, it would seem that he is an unlikely candidate as the one behind these acts. This is doubled down as he appears on a cell phone recording of the lunch room suffering the same fate as the other students. Doubt creeps over our crew as they debate whether or not someone would willingly poop themselves to throw off the scent of investigators. Kevin is placed on house arrest, limiting his movements to a nearby convenience store he frequents. A convenience store that plays an important part in the investigation later in the season.
As Sam and Peter dig deeper into the mystery of The Turd Burglar, suspects begin to multiply, there is no shortage of people in the school who would or could have cause to place such mayhem on the students and faculty. Kevin, the oddball in the school, desperate for attention could have actually done this. DeMarcus Tillman, the basketball prodigy who has secrets in his life that could very well ruin his reputation and chances at recruitment could be the villain. Lou Carter, close friend of DeMarcus who loves to share the limelight with his team mate, despite any negative impacts any actions could hit his meal ticket.
As in the last season, the investigative duo use a large corkboard, pictures, post it notes, and string...so much string to connect the dots and merge all of the clues together to come to a startling and unforeseen conclusion to the drama just as the promised finale "Dump" occurs. It is a twist that was out of left field, and had no foreshadowing during the season.
So What Do I Think?
Season 2 continues the, let's face it, potty humor (literally this time), from the first one. It makes sense, though, as these are high school aged kids the docuseries focuses on, and teenagers usually don't have the most refined sense of humor. That being said, there is much more going on here than the basest of humor.
As before, there is a lot of attention to detail to maintain the documentary format and keep it 'real'. The film makers this time pull additional sources to add intrigue and interest in the case, including CCTV footage which supplies our investigators with additional motives of suspects.
The social commentary that underlies this season is again, multifaceted and intriguing in presentation. The pressure placed on star athletes is embodies in DeMarcus and the need for those around him to keep his college choice meeting to their own selfish ends. DeMarcus also embodies the lower income class representative attending a wealthy school and losing part of what originally made him a great athlete. Kevin is that nerdy kid in school who has to put on a shtick for those around him to both become accepted by the other kids, while putting up a wall keeping him safe from the barbs of the other students. His initial confession comes off as disingenuous and almost forced, maybe by an administrator or another student. The Turd Burglar him or her self has motives for the crimes that are both sad as well as compelling, given the state of how the high school age students in our world are treated by each other and staff.
As the story progresses, there are enough twists and turns to keep the viewer engaged, and when the conclusion finally hits, it is something that is not foreshadowed early on, as it was in the first season for anyone who paid close attention to a certain suspect. It was entertaining trying to follow the case being built up and discuss with my wife who was the true guilty party.
I really hope that the makers of these 2 seasons come up with another vandal to portray in another season, as I feel that the documentary series is really hitting a good stride and has the ability to move in so many different directions that I would hate to see it die on the vine at this point.
I highly recommend both seasons of this show, and though I feel that the first season was funnier than this second, I feel that the differences in the second make it stand out as the better of the two. Hear me, Netflix, get cracking on more of this gem!