Parents' Guide to

American Vandal

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Language, high school sex jokes in wry true-crime satire.

TV Netflix Comedy 2017
American Vandal Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 18+


Should’ve turned it off after the first 15 minutes. I guess I thought at some point there might be something worth while. This show has little to no redeeming qualities. It seems that it’s purpose is to desensitize the viewer’s moral sensibilities and keep our teens in perpetual immaturity. Premarital sex, drugs and alcohol, and profanity are all normalized and even glorified. I don’t know what these other parents are thinking, but I would never want my kids watching this, even in their 30s.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
1 person found this helpful.
age 15+

As long as their mature

This show is very immature at its core a penis drawer and poop bandit. But the story is compelling and has you left with quotations demanding answers. It’s a fun crude mystery that’s actually pretty tame. If your kid is mature enough to handle the topics and see it for the story they’ll be engulfed in the mystery

This title has:

Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5):
Kids say (14):

Clever, deadpan, and instantly quotable, this mockumentary pries some knowing laughter from a genre that typically takes itself very seriously: true crime. American Vandal starts in on the ironic imitation right in the credits, with (school paper!) headlines about the graffiti crime dissolving into grimly lit photos of the crime scene and portentous yearbook photos. There are talking-head interviews and close-ups of ominous-looking official paperwork; there are cork boards with string connecting photos and clues. And there is always the fact that the crime in question is a row of spray-painted penises.

Dylan, too, makes an appealing lead, his oafishness lightened a bit by scenes in which he talks about how much he loves his girlfriend and how disappointed he is that his life-goal plans (going to college with his girlfriend, opening up a surf shop) are disrupted by his expulsion. Before long, the boy we hear repeatedly described as a "f---ing idiot" and "the stupidest kid I ever met" emerges as something of a henpecked hero: He might have spray-painted the penises, because it's a laugh. But he didn't. And so we, along with Dylan, and Peter, and everyone else, slowly pick through the clues to find out who did. And why. Or maybe not. Because what does it matter what the answer is, when the search for it is so much fun? Update: In the show's second season, Peter and Sam investigate a new, more bodily function-related crime at a different school after the mockumentary the duo supposedly made in the first season became a viral sensation. This adds another layer of satire and complexity to the surprisingly clever comedy, which makes plenty of points about gossip, digital life, the reputation you make for yourself -- and the one that others pin on you.

TV Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate