American Vandal, the Netflix mockumentary series created by Emerson alumni Tony Yacenda ’09 and Dan Perrault ’09, won a Peabody Award in the Entertainment category, while being hailed as a “surprisingly insightful rumination on contemporary life.”
Emerson class of 2009 alumni Kevin and Matthew McManus have also written for the show, which will be honored Saturday, May 19, at a ceremony in New York hosted by Hasan Minhaj, comedian, writer, and senior correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
American Vandal, produced by CBS Television Studios, Funny Or Die and 3 Arts Entertainment for Netflix, sends up true crime series like Making a Murderer and the podcast Serial with the story of a high school prank that left dozens of cars covered with phallic graffiti.
In its announcement of the award, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, which founded the Peabody, said “American Vandal slowly shifts focus from a high school student accused of a sophomoric prank/crime to the consequences of solving the mystery. Wickedly funny, the show also offers a look at how the ethical questions of the true crime genre intersect with the harsh realities of being a teenager in the age of social media.”
American Vandal also was nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Best New Series, and by Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Limited Series.
Other Peabody recipients in the category are Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, HBO’s Insecure and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, AMC’s Better Call Saul, NBC’s Saturday Night Live: Political Satire 2017, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
The Peabody Awards, founded in 1940, each year honors the year’s most important stories and storytellers working in television, radio, and digital media. Recipients must be unanimously chosen by a Board of Jurors made up of industry professionals, media scholars, critics, and journalists.
Last year, Emerson alumnus Norman Lear was honored with an Individual Peabody Award for bringing social issues into American living rooms through his sitcoms. Other Emersonians to win the award include: Vin Di Bona ’66, a Trustee of the College and producer of America’s Funniest Home Videos; and Elaine McMillion, MFA ’13, and Jeff Soyk, MFA ’13, directors of the documentary Hollow. Alumna Traci Blackwell, MA ’14, oversees Peabody winner Jane the Virgin for the CW, and ELA faculty member Marie Colabelli has worked on multiple Peabody-winning programs, including The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.