School Spirits (2023) Season 1 Review/Spoilers

Overall, the first season of School Spirits is a fine watch, but needs more intrigue and fun to live up to its title and make a memorable impact.


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Network Paramount+ 
Created or Developed By Megan & Nate Trinrud
Based On N/A
Executive Produced By Oliver Goldstick

Megan Trinrud & Nate Trinrud

Max Winkler

Genre(s)  

Mystery

Drama

Thriller

Noted Characters
Maddie Nears Peyton List
Simon Elroy Kristian Flores
Xavier Baxter Spencer Macpherson
Nicole Herrera Kiara Pichardo
Wally Clark Milo Manheim
Charley Nick Pugliese
Rhonda Sarah Yarkin
Sandra Nears Maria Dizzia
Mr. Martin Josh Zuckerman
Claire Zahler Rainbow Wedell

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Summary

Maddie Nears is a ghost. That’s all she really knows. The mystery is she cannot remember how she died. She’s forced to wander her high school halls as those alive believe she’s just missing and continue to search for her. Some of the primary people that care about Maddie’s absence are her best friends, Simon and Nicole, her old boyfriend, Xavier, the school’s popular girl Claire, and Maddie’s mom, Sandra.

School Spirits Episode 6 Recap Ending Explained Charlie Maddie Rhonda.jpg

While seeing her loved ones investigate what happened to her can be frustrating, Maddie is not alone as a ghost. She’s joined by Wally, Rhonda, and Charlie who help her find closure in the afterlife while also trying to solve her murder. The ghosts’ guidance counselor, Mr. Martin, also attempts to help but seems more suspicious of how Maddie died.

But just when Maddie loses all hope in communicating with the living, Simon can unexpectedly see her. Now with a connection to the living and dead, Maddie and Simon are the primary detectives leading the case against what happened to Maddie Nears.

Review


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Our Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)

Who Is This For?

Fans of teen shows with mystery or sci-fi elements like “Riverdale,” “Supernatural,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Wednesday,” and “Teen Wolf” will find something to enjoy here.

Notable Performances, Moments, or Episodes
school spirits 3

  1. While each actor gets their episode to shine, Kristian Flores is an evident standout from the start as the brooding, wry, and heartsick Simon Elroy. Flores understands the varying genres the series honors and smoothly transitions from a noir detective back to a 90s teen heartthrob with a single line. 
  2. Episodes to Anticipate: 1.1 “My So-Called Death,” “The Twilight End Zone,” “Seance Anything,” and “Madison’s Body.”

Highlights

Stellar Performances from a Promising Cast

Throughout the first season’s eight episodes, each performer gets a chance in the spotlight. Each role has a slight twist to common high school stereotypes, and the show starts to find its rhythm when allowing the cast to trade barbs and riff off each other.
school spirits 4

Exploration of Spirit World Provides Fresh Twist to Teen Show

School Spirits’ hook isn’t Maddie’s mystery, but it explores ghost life and what being dead, while stuck on a high school campus, is like. The show is having the most fun when walking the tightrope between its dead and alive characters, like when the ghosts realize Simon can see Maddie but still can’t see the rest of them. 

On The Fence

The Story Lacks the Fun, Ghoulishness, and Creativity of Its Premise

Each episode title serves as a pun, and sometimes that’s the most fun the episode serves. Since the story is primarily fixated on solving Maddie’s death, most of each episode’s structure is spent building a case against a character, only to have it dissolve by the end. There’s no distinguished look in the spirit world, no pale hue, blood, or creepy fun. Unlike another teen mystery, “Wednesday,” School Spirits’ dialogue is often grim and serious without tapping into the satire of its premise.

Maddie Has Very Little to Do

A common gripe I had while watching the first season was that while Maddie’s mystery was the core of the series, she was often a spectator to the action of each episode. The audience deserves to learn more about Maddie and who she was while living. The series is eager to show the tragedy of Maddie’s life but not the happiness or passion she had while alive. Her identity is consumed by solving her death, but why should the viewer invest in that mystery in the first place?

The Final Twist is Shocking While Making the First Season’s Suspense Mostly Irrelevant

The twist that Maddie wasn’t murdered but that another ghost now possesses her body is intriguing and gives a jumping point for the next season. However, knowing that now, the show’s rewatchability decreases since much of the suspense and time spent investigating who killed Maddie is now irrelevant. While we learn more about each character as they become suspects, the path to get there seems more of a chore and less entertaining. 

What I Hope to See

If the show is renewed for a second season, it needs to allow the characters to have more fun with each other, more union between them, and give Peyton List more to do with Maddie. While the show is fine, inoffensive, and an uncomplicated watch, it’s also unmemorable as a teen and mystery show. If it embraces the creepiness of its spirit world, brings more satire to its high school setting, all while paying tribute to mystery noir tales, this could make a more memorable time.

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School Spirits (2023) Season 1 Review/Spoilers
Overall
School Spirits has plenty of potential. But if given a second season, it needs to reinvent its mystery structure and grim tone with a more mischievous and satiric good time.
Highlights
Terrific Performances by Promising Cast
Spirit Story-world Has Plenty of Potential
Disputable
The Protagonist Has Little to Do
The Final Twist Influences Hesitation on Watching Again
75

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