Warning: This post contains spoilers from the season 2 finale of American Vandal. Read at your own risk.
Despite the dramatic twists and turns, American Vandal star Tyler Alvarez actually found the season 2 finale somewhat comforting.
In the satirical Netflix series’ second season, high school documentarians Peter Maldonado (Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) investigate the Turd Burglar, a shadowy figure who’s terrorizing a prestigious private school with poop pranks. The case takes a dark turn, and they discover that the crimes were carried out by multiple students who were blackmailed in a catfishing scheme. Said catfish was determined to show that everyone wears masks on social media to hide how fake they are, and that this is indeed the worst generation ever. But as the season ends, Peter delivers a heartfelt monologue about the role of social media in teens’ lives — “We’re the first generation that gets to live twice,” he says — and rejects the vandal’s nihilistic thesis.
“We aren’t the worst generation; we’re just the most exposed,” Peter says in the season’s final moments. “We’re living in a constant state of feedback and judgment. So maybe the masks are a tool to survive the time. Maybe they provide a thin layer of protection, a place to grow, discover, re-invent. The important part is having people who know you without the mask, and being happy with who you are beneath it.”
For his part, Alvarez found this monologue geniunely moving. “The biggest takeaway I took from that monologue was, ‘We’re not the worst generation,’ because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that, I’ve heard that, from almost all the adults I’ve known,” the actor tells EW. “It’s true, we’re not the worst generation; we’re just the most exposed. Hearing that, it made me feel like it was okay. It made me feel like maybe these people are wrong about us. Yeah, we have our different things that we go through that our parents didn’t go through, but that’s life. It was very comforting for me to hear that we’re not the worst generation, because it’s something that I heard several times. It made me feel more at peace with that and believe in this generation, because we do have a lot more to offer.”
In fact, working on this season of the Peabody Award-winning series affected Alvarez’s relationship with social media. “I’m a lot less afraid to show other quirky sides to me that I may have hidden before,” he says. “I’m getting a little more honest with my captions and photos, and not giving so much of a crap about editing the photo or picking the right filter, or which photo is the best photo. I’m just posting them. I still do care and I still check for the right filter, but I don’t care as much. It’s broken that wall down just a little bit more for me, and I think that the older that I get and the more I grow and stuff like that, the more and more that wall will come down. That’s what I really hope people take away from this season, is that specifically having people who know and love you without the mask, ’cause that’s really important, because we all wear a mask in one way or another.”
Alvarez adds, “I will say, I really felt like I was talking to my generation when I was delivering that monologue, and it was the most empowering and one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever been given in my career — to be able to be the voice of my generation and be able to give that message to them. I really, really hope people listen to it.”
There’s no word yet on whether or not there will be a third season of American Vandal, but Alvarez is very open to playing Peter again, especially after hearing what the show’s creators have in mind.
“I will follow these crime stories as long as they will let me,” he says. “The concept for season 3, I will say, is really strong. I’m really excited. I hope we get to make it.… Nothing’s been presented, but I’ve heard bits and pieces of where they want to take the story, and I’m super-excited about it. Again, it would be very different, which is exciting.”
American Vandal season 2 is available to stream now.