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"School Spirits" is a Fresh Take on the Mystery Genre

Stacey Addo | Arts & Entertainment Editor


"School Spirit"/ Paramount/ 2023


Starring Peyton List, “School Spirit” follows Maddie, a teenage girl who has passed away and is adjusting to the afterlife and unravels her mysterious disappearance before she died. Unlike any of the other ghosts in the afterworld, Maddie has no memory of what happened to her before she died. With only one season of the show so far, "School Spirits" is full of twists and turns and is unlike any other “teen” show that I’ve watched. 


Similarly to a typical mystery show, we meet a slew of characters in Maddie's life. From her mother to her boyfriend and friend group, we learn about their lives, their secrets, and all of the reasons people in her life could have been responsible for Maddie's death. Maddie’s best friend Simon is also fighting to figure out the disappearance. We meet her boyfriend Xavier who we find out was hiding a lot more from Maddie than she knew about. Her mom is also a major suspect in the story as she was constantly in and out of rehab and Maddie was constantly forced to take care of her and herself. She was also the last person to have seen her daughter alive in the boiler room, before her disappearance. The only lead that police had at the start of the series was her blood in the boiler room. Her body or any other trace of her hadn't been found.


There are several other characters that we investigate, but another aspect of the show is Maddie adjusting to the afterlife. There are a group of other ghosts who have all died at the River High School at some point and haven’t yet “crossed over”. All of the ghosts are trapped at the school until they cross over. The only problem is none of them are actually sure about what they need to do in order to do so. To support each other, they have group therapy sessions with Mr. Martin, a teacher who died at Split River High School in 1958. There are several other ghosts that we learn the stories of and who try to help Maddie come to terms with her fate. 


This show’s combination of mystery, drama, and the supernatural creates such a compelling story structure. I couldn’t imagine anyone else leading the show the same way Peyton List does. She makes Maddie an intriguing character that may be snarky at times but you still root for her. The show was great at being unpredictable. By leaning into the supernatural elements of their show they are able to create a really interesting story structure that keeps the show unpredictable because we as the audience are still learning the rules of this world in the same way Maddie is. 


If you’re looking for a new show to watch "School Spirits" is currently streaming on Netflix. The show has also been picked up for a second season so we can look forward to that in the future.


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