Phallus-focused true crime comedy 'American Vandal,' co-created by Exton native, wins prestigious Peabody Award

Netflix’s mockumentary series American Vandal, which deals with a rash of spray painted penises at a smalltown high school, is now a Peabody Award-winner.

Co-created by Exton native Tony Yacenda and collaborator Dan Perrault, the series was one of eight shows to win an entertainment, children, and youth’s programming Peabody alongside shows like Better Call Saul, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and Saturday Night Live. With the award, American Vandal joins a prestigious list of winners like The Wire, and Twin Peaks.

Previously, the show was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for best new series. Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale took home that award, and also won a Peabody this year.

“A surprisingly insightful rumination on contemporary life, American Vandal slowly shifts focus from a high school student accused of a sophomoric prank/crime to the consequences of solving the mystery,” a statement from the Peabodys read. “Wickedly funny, the show also offers a look at how the ethical questions of the true crime genre intersect with the harsh realities of being a teenager in the age of social media.”

That student is Dylan Maxwell, played by 22 Jump Street’s Jimmy Tatro, a ne’er-do-well kid at the fictional Hanover High School in Oceanside, Calif. In the series, he is accused of spray painting 27 crudely drawn penises on 27 cars in the school’s faculty parking lot. Student journalist Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez, Orange Is the New Black) mounts a campaign to clear Maxwell’s name and find the real culprit, which drives the series.

“The satire works because it’s not a murder, and the goal is to get you to really care about the crime even though it’s essentially an elaborate … joke,” Yacenda told the Inquirer of the show last year. “If you can get an audience to care about [graffiti of male genitalia], I think that is a satire worth making.”

Fans can look forward to more American Vandal in the near future, thanks to a series renewal from Netflix last year. Whether the show will continue to focus on Maxwell’s story, however, is currently up in the air.

“There are still so many tropes of true-crime documentaries and so many other high school stories that we haven’t told,” Yacenda told the Inquirer. “We’re pretty confident we can make a second season much stronger than the first.”