According to a Friday report from Deadline, that is exactly what happened. After two true crime-parodying seasons that managed to swing from hilarious and heartbreaking at a moment's notice, Netflix has decided not to renew American Vandal for season 3.
"American Vandal will not return for a third season," Netflix said in a statement to Refinery29. "We’re very grateful to the creators, writers, cast and crew for bringing their innovative comedy to Netflix, and to the fans and critics who embraced its unique and unconventional humor."
For the uninitiated, American Vandal follows student documentarians Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) as they attempt to uncover the truth behind a mysterious (and ridiculous) crime. Season 1, which tipped its hat to Netflix true crime series Making A Murderer, was about getting justice for class clown Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), who declared he definitely did not draw the dicks on the cars in the faculty parking lot. Season 2's crime was a bit more elaborate, as it involved unmasking the identity of a private school criminal known as "The Turd Burglar." To put it delicately, he made people poop their pants.
While these plotlines may seem like the premise of a four-minute Funny or Die sketch (the digital platform is also the company behind the series), American Vandal was much more than just a parody. It also managed to become one of the most honest shows about young adult life, treating high school like its own unique society, allowing its stars to actually look like teens (most really were), and, most importantly, revealing truths about teenhood in poignant, sometimes even devastating ways.
Towards the end of the first season, Dylan's teacher declares she doesn't care about his innocence — because he'll never amount to anything more than what he is. It's a gut-punch of a conversation, and a powerful reminder of the effect that our own reputation has on not only on how people view us, but how we view ourselves. When Dylan has the opportunity to transcend his (objectively cruel) teacher's words, he makes a choice in line with how she sees him.
Powerful stuff for a series that dives into missing "ball hairs."
The end of season 2 is equally as profound, diving into the falsehoods we present on social media, what it means to be "weird" in high school, and how we can find authentic connections when everything we post is a lie.
As for why American Vandal did not receive a season 3, we can only speculate. It certainly seemed beloved (it even won a Peabody award!) but as Netflix does not reveal ratings a la traditional television networks, we'll never know how many eyeballs were actually on it.
Unless, of course... there is another explanation for American Vandal's surprise cancelation. Blackmail?! Catfishing?! Alas, without Sam and Peter on the case, we may never find out.