Skewering a Genre Perfectly: Not About Dicks but About the Justice System
Arguably, Bill Kurtis invented the genre.
Maybe Truman Capote with In Cold Blood was the genesis but Kurtis made it popular on television. Then came Serial. Then Making a Murderer. As true crime tales exploded, so did the hunger for exploring all aspects of the crime, opening up the prosecution and defense of accused criminals to encompass as many facets possible to both explain how crime happens, why it happens and the intersectionality of actors involved.
Parody, in order to work, is a bit like satire. It has to be taken completely seriously while still mocking the very object of its focus. Scream is a meta-parody that works. Scary Movie is an obvious and overly self-aware attempt at parody that falls flat because it has no respect for the source.
Galaxy Quest is the perfect spoof of Star Trek. Blazing Saddles is perhaps the best takeoff on westerns. This is Spinal Tap seems over the top until you see Anvil! The Story of Anvil and see clearly how close the rockumentary is to real life.
Which brings me to Netflix's American Vandal.
"He's, like, a known dick drawer."
Breaking it down, creators Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda spoof and comment on the stupidity of high school, the ridiculous, self-seriousness of high school students, the bizarre nature of the judicial process, the nature of online popularity via viral explosion, and the entire genre of true crime documentaries. And they do it masterfully.
I had a few problems with Serial when it launched and suddenly changed the landscape of podcast finance as well as Netflix's Making a Murderer. The weaving a compelling narrative out of the lives of people in the midst of truly life-threatening and changing circumstances compromises the documentarian as well as makes the audience the most despicable of voyeurs. This is not Reality TV. This is entertainment made from current and present misery.
American Vandal nails this dichotomy right between the hairless ball-sacks.
The characters are just real enough to be believed and just ridiculous enough to give frequent laugh out loud moments all while somehow making the solving of the crime (the spray painting of 27 cocks on the cars of teachers) compelling.
Watch it. It's a hoot.