American Vandal season 2 is a harrowing, often dark true-crime experience that also happens to be primarily about poop. Where season one of Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda‘s Netflix mockumentary worked to answer the question “who drew the dicks?“, season 2 goes bigger, sending intrepid high school reporters Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) to a Catholic private school to investigate the mysterious serial poop-prankster known only by the Instagram handle The Turd Burglar.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Alvarez discussed season 2’s darker themes, trying to solve the show’s mystery on his own, the dangers and potential of social media, and the all-important question: Whether it’s harder to say “dicks” or “turds” with a straight face.
Collider: I have to know, was it harder for you and the cast to spend a season earnestly saying the word “dicks” or the word “turds”?
TYLER ALVAREZ: That’s a tough question. Was it harder to say dicks or turds? To be honest, I think turds was actually harder for me. I think poop is funny. I may be out of high school but I still have that mind, I guess. Poop was definitely harder for me.
So when did you learn there was going to be an American Vandal season 2? Was Peter a character you wanted to revisit?
I learned about the second season a few weeks before they announced it. They dropped the season 2 announcement trailer. We all kind of knew that it was going to happen because we saw everything that was going on and the reaction it was getting. I was really excited because Peter is a character I love to revisit. We’re quite similar and it’s just fun to solve crime, you know? It’s fun to be a little Sherlock, in a way. I love doing that stuff, I was excited to start breaking down the next crime, getting to the bottom of it. As an actor and as Peter, too. It’s a lot of fun every single time.
When you’re reading the scripts and preparing for a new season, do you approach it like a serious mystery or do you want to know ahead of time where it ends up?
The way I do it is I read each episode in order and I take the facts from that episode, write them down, and then come to my own conclusions based on that to solve it as the scripts progress. I kind of don’t want the scripts to solve it for me, I want to solve it on my own. This season I had no idea what was happening. I could not figure it out. Last season I was able to figure it out, which is fun. But yeah, I try and solve it as we go, which helps me get into the mindset of solving the crime and getting into the Peter headspace. I also watch a lot of documentaries. Shadow of Truth was a big reference for this season.
I felt like this season went to some much darker places than the first season and I’m wondering if you were cognizant of that when you were reading it and how that informed your performance?
Yeah, to be honest, when I was reading it I was scared. I was terrified reading episodes 7 and 8. Like genuinely scared. As a reader, as an actor. And that influenced my performance a little bit. There’s that one point where I was just like, “Okay, this is scary. The stakes are really high.” Journalists really go for it and they also put themselves in harm’s way sometimes with the stories that they cover. I was scared for Peter, God forbid something happened to him. Not that it ever would in this world, but in my imagination, I’m afraid the Turd Burglar is gonna’ come after me.