Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pilot Review: American Vandal

American Vandal (Netflix)
Premiered September 15

I couldn’t tell at first if this was meant to be a documentary or something scripted, but it didn’t take more than a few seconds of watching to realize that this was a satire of hugely childish proportions. I actually just listened to the first episode of “Serial” a few weeks ago during a long drive, and while I know I’m late to the party (and not hooked only because I don’t drive regularly and prefer to watch TV when I can), I think it was perfect timing so that I could fully appreciate what this show is trying to do in parodying it. Appreciating it and liking it are two different things, however, since I can respect it without thinking there’s actually all that much to it. I don’t think anyone is pretending that this is supposed to be taken seriously, and instead it’s taking a lot of jabs at the excessive drama portrayed in this kind of long-form exposĂ©. That the subject, Dylan, is on trial for drawing many, many penises on staff cars, says it all. Naturally, that’s part of the investigation, since, while Dylan was a known penis-drawer, his style and form is considerably different from what was found all over the cars, which means that maybe he’s…innocent? It is possible that this show could have been a bit more sophisticated, but I suppose then the comedy factor would have been impacted and the absurdity of it all would be lessened. Still, this isn’t something I can bear to watch for even another episode, and I’m surprised that it seems to have been so widely well-received.

How will it work as a series? I can’t imagine what’s going to take place over the next seven episodes, since that seems like an awfully long time to spend on these characters and this silly crime. At least each installment is only half an hour rather than a full hour, but that’s only some consolation.
How long will it last? The reviews appear to be pretty good, and ratings data isn’t something that Netflix tends to release. I’d hedge my bets on this show getting renewed, albeit for a second and totally different anthology chapter with something equally immature and ridiculous meant to send up pop culture and the excitement of this type of series.

Pilot grade: C+

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