American Vandal was, to me, the most unexpected emotional punch of the year.
Yes, I’m referring to the Netflix series parody of America’s obsession with crime, in the same vain as Making a Murderer, The Keepers or even Scandal… blown up to a four-hour-long dick joke.
That’s right, the Netflix-dick-joke series has more sincerity than most serious, prestige dramas. It delves into obsession, classism, depression, gender politics, race… and it does so effortlessly, while never forgetting why it’s there in the first place: To be funny.
I’ve heard Stranger Things defined a million ways: A friend said it was The X-Files meets Freaks and Geeks. I’ve heard it described as an Amblin-era Steven Spielberg production of an unwritten Stephen King novel with music courtesy of John Carpenter. Basically, it’s a mish-mash of inspirations… you can see glimmers of Alien here, bits of IT there, while being slathered in the overall themes of something like Stand by Me.
Narratives being borrowed from other areas is not a new or particularly novel device of storytelling. Quentin Tarantino has made a career out of it. But, for some reason, Stranger Things has really found an audience, and that audience has gone absolutely apeshit over it.
There seems to be a sadness present in Orange is the New Black’s second season that was not present, or was at least below the surface, in the first, freshman season and was allowed to come to the surface on its sophomore go-around and grow into a stock. Perhaps in the third season, that stock will be allowed to bloom into a cynical flower.