Netflix’s American Vandal released its second season on September 14, 2018, about one year after it had first premiered. It follows Peter Maldonado and Sam Ecklund, the lead “investigators” from season one, as they attempt to tackle a new case: the case of “The Turd Burglar.”
Season 2 of American Vandal remains in the same vein as its first season but, takes on more serious undertones. It still remains so serious that it’s ridiculous, season 2 tackles real issues that are seen in schools today, namely bullying and catfishing. It even begins to delve into school administration issues and the psychology of police-suspect relationships. These serious remarks stick out in an otherwise silly television show so, they’re easy to see and make you think, even as you laugh, at the next ridiculous theory Peter or Sam throw out.
Ultimately, it was the mystery aspect and the social commentary that kept me invested in the show. While the story of the “Turd Burglar” was funny enough, there was more poop involved than I cared for. I understand that the shock-and-awe of those scenes were to mimic the shock-and-awe of the gore that murder documentaries have. Watching kids scream and cry as they pooped themselves in the school hallway was a little much for me, though. I find the blood and gore of murder documentaries much easier to handle.
Unlike the previous season, the second season ends with a definitive answer. There is nothing left up to debate; the audience is given the answer as to who the “Turd Burglar” is. Peter and Sam are able to collect their evidence, follow their leads, and make a resounding decision as to who is behind the moniker. In fact, the last episode acts as a presentation of facts and how the case is being handled with the suspect facing jail time. Loose ends are tied up and the conspiracy is blown open. The mystery is solved.
Also unlike the previous season, the social commentary is obvious. As I said, the second season deals with bullying and catfishing while speaking to issues about school administration and the police-suspect relationship. The bullying commentary stood out the most and was the most explored.
It depicted the main suspect in the case who was obviously being bullied, but other people stating that he liked the attention he got from being a little weird. Even his younger sister. The main suspect, Kevin McClain, states that he isn’t being bullied, but enjoys the interactions he has with the other students. It’s only at the end that we see that Kevin doesn’t truly feel that way and that it’s only a front.
Another comment that stood out to me, especially as someone who has been involved in sports her whole life, was that athletes in the high school get special privileges. It’s a hard pill to swallow and many people would probably like to deny this claim, but this is a fact. Athletes at all educational levels are treated differently and they do get privileges. Even amongst the different sports within an athletics program, there are different privileges.
The school that this takes place at, St. Bernardine is a basketball school. It’s the sport that generates revenue and puts them on the map as their players move onto having successful basketball careers after high school. It’s clear that the basketball players at the school receive privileges that other students would never have, especially when it comes to their star basketball player. They’re graded easier, have access to restricted areas, and never seem to get into any real trouble.
Overall, while I didn’t necessarily like the case for the second season as I did for the first, I enjoyed what was being said more. It gave an otherwise silly show some depth. The producers saw a chance to speak on real-world issues and they took it. They did well with balancing the serious and the silly. It doesn’t feel like it’s pulled one way or another and the heart of the first season is still carried through into the newest season. Because of the balance, I would recommend this show to anyone interested.