Lessons from The Turdburglar

An In-depth Analysis of American Vandal Season 2

The calling card of The Turd Burglar

The calling card of The Turd Burglar

For those uncultured swine who have been living under a rock for the past year, American Vandal is a faux-documentary on Netflix which leapt into the spotlight in September of 2017. The story focuses on two high school students who set out to prove the innocence of a classmate accused of a heinous crime which he claims he did not commit. The breakout success of the first season led to the creation of a sequel. This review will be spoiler free; however, if you are unfamiliar with the show, we recommend going home, ignoring all homework or other assignments completely, and watching both seasons in their entirety in one sitting.

The Laughs

The true charm of American Vandal is the humor. While the second season tones it back somewhat in terms of crude humor, the investigation of the Turd Burglar’s crimes against the students of St. Bernadine’s focuses on perhaps one the most timeless humors known to man: Poop. Poop is the essential element which ties together every aspect of the second season. From drinking laxatives to being covered in cat feces, this season contains several moments in each episode that will leave you LOLing and ROFLing all the way until the next revelation is made.

Why would he poop in his own pants?

— Kevin's Grandma

However, American Vandal’s greatest humor comes from the investigation itself. Peter and Sam, the two documenters, take every clue and detail of the investigation with crucial seriousness, which in a crime about people pooping themselves uncontrollably, is quite witty. Whether it be a student’s recounting of the smell of the poop, a sequence focusing on a janitor who is visually stimulating, or a CGI recreation of teachers puking, they approach the subject with stoic professionalism. As a result, i’ts really funny.

The Lessons

Don’t be fooled by the show’s frequent poop jokes and puns, though, as American Vandal conveys a message much deeper than a high school poop prank. Sure, this is the premise of the show, but under the surface of a somewhat hilarious sequence of poop crimes lies a much deeper meaning. The show explores the relationship teenagers today share with social media, and how we often tend to lead 2 separate lives. Throughout the series of the investigation into the poop crimes, the lives of each character are exposed to be very different than what the outside world sees. Through what the turd burglar calls “the veil of social media”, we see the false front that each character puts on to give the appearance of a happier life. The show is truly as much about the true identity of the Turd Burglar as the true identity of the characters.

Nah like s*** is funny an all but that ain’t me

— Demarcus Tillman

Demarcus Tillman, for example, the star basketball player and 5 star college recruit at the prestigious Saint Bernardine, is an often jovial presence within the halls of the school. Demarcus describes himself as having a relationship with everyone at Saint Bernardine and even creates personal handshakes with his peers. However, it is ultimately revealed that Demarcus feels especially alienated from the rest of the student body, believing that his relationships are fake and that the students engage with him only due to his star athlete status.

The show also explores the nature of true friendship, focusing on 3 friends in particular and the trials and tribulations they undergo. Through the investigation of Kevin, the accused Turd Burglar, the story of a clinging friendship unravels in front of the audience’s eyes. The show does a wonderful job simultaneously telling 2 stories, one of the investigation into the Turd Burglar, and the other into the true identities of its characters.

Final Verdict

Ultimately, the series’ second season truly does justice to the legacy that was created last year. Though the humor and comedic value were somewhat toned back, the amplified suspense and mystery give the season a fresh feel while not losing its trademark charm. This intriguing combination made it difficult to say whether season 2 was better than season 1 or not, causing the vote to be split. Andrew voted that season 2 was better, and Mason stayed loyal to season 1.

Either way, you need to watch this show. It has the power to make you laugh so hard you pee yourself a little bit while also tugging on your heart strings. It’s wild.