While Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault’s mockumentary Players recently started streaming on Paramount+, the duo is likely more known for American Vandal, their mockumentary series that debuted on Netflix in 2017. It was critically acclaimed, but the streaming service pulled the plug after only two seasons. Yacenda and Perrault recently spoke to ComingSoon about it, reflecting on the time they had making that silly, but deadly serious show.
Yacenda started by saying it was a “bummer” to see American Vandal go. But even though it was taken by the changing tides of the streaming industry, he said he was happy to be able to make it in the first place, especially given the premise.
“I think it’s a bummer to have something you love canceled, but we also are so grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “If you describe the premise of that show to anyone, it’s crazy that somebody let us make that show in the first place. So I think there were a lot of external market forces that made it possible for that show to be made in 2016. And by 2018, the streaming market was very much changing. But I don’t think we could complain about the latter without being very grateful for the former.”
Yacenda’s words about the changing streaming market is likely referring to how Netflix was shifting over that time in an effort to produce more in-house. As noted by Variety, American Vandal was produced by an outside studio, which meant Netflix had less control over its rights.
Perrault chimed in, too, elaborating that making American Vandal also helped the two work learn to work together more efficiently in Players.
“Tony and I had worked for years before Vandal, but that, in a way, really felt like another step for us in learning how best to work with each other,” said Perrault. “And I think a lot of the toolkit we used on Players comes directly from our experience with Vandal. We’re super grateful to Netflix and everyone who gave us that opportunity.”
Like Yacenda, Perrault also said he appreciated being able to make the show. However, he was also grateful that it didn’t end on a cliffhanger.
“I echo what Tony said in that I think we were very lucky to have sold that and to have been able to do that when we did,” said Perrault. “The show also kicked my ass because it was hard. Both of these mockumentaries are not the easiest to make between the gameplay and different elements of Players and then also creating these complex social media worlds of these fictional characters. But I couldn’t be more grateful that we got the opportunity. And I think one thing that I’m grateful for in addition to that is that each season is self-contained. It’s not in the nature of American Vandal to ever end on a cliffhanger, but thank God we didn’t.”
The first two seasons of American Vandal were highly acclaimed, with the first of the two scoring a 98 average on Rotten Tomatoes (the second season has no average score on the site). Its debut season covered a high school scandal of a mysterious student that drew cartoonish penises on a bunch of cars and covered the event in a mockumentary series in the vein of Making a Murderer. The second season revolved around a student at another school putting laxatives in the cafeteria’s lemonade.
Netflix canceled the show just over one month after that follow-up season aired in 2018. The company stated that it was “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.”