School Spirits review: when the school is full of ghosts

Peyton List in School Spirits

School Spirits, season 1, is a mysterious ghost story starring Peyton List as a girl searching for answers about her murder and why she’s living with a bunch of ghosts at her high school.

I hesitated to watch School Spirits because I thought it looked a little silly. But it turned out to be quite adult. The characters are well drawn, the plot is full of twists with a great big surprise cliffhanger. The entire series is mysterious and engaging. A second season is in the works already.

Maddie (Peyton List) was a senior in high school. Her home life was a mess, with her alcoholic mother (Maria Dizzia) being a constant source of problems. She was dating Xavier (Spencer Macpherson) when she discovered he was cheating on her with the popular cheerleader Claire (Rainbow Wedell).

Kiara Pichardo and Kristian Ventura in School Spirits
Nicole and Simon are very alive.

Maddie’s two best friends were Simon (Kristian Ventura) and Nicole (Kiara Pichardo).

Maddie disappeared. The police, including Xavier’s dad (Ian Tracey) who was the sheriff, found blood in the custodian’s work area. But no body. The police, Maddie’s mom, and friends like Nicole and Simon searched for her and for clues.

Peyton List, Milo Manheim, Sarah Yarkin, and Nick Pugliese in School Spirits
This bunch is very dead.

When Maddie realized she was a ghost, she also realized that her school was full of ghosts. As she tried to figure out what happened to her and recall how she died, she befriended Wally (Milo Manheim), Charley (Nick Pugliese), and Rhonda (Sarah Yarkin). They were part of a group of ghosts who met daily for a therapy session with Mr. Martin (Josh Zuckerman), a teacher who had been dead for 60 years and was still at the school.

The ghosts had the run of the place and did whatever they wanted since no one could see them and nothing they did had any effect on the living world. Except. Except . . .

Simon could see Maddie. He could talk to her. Hence, she had a conduit to the living and an effect on the living world. She investigated her murder in the spirit world while Simon and others investigated in the real world.

Every episode made a different character look guilty. That got a little tiresome with all the red herrings and false leads. Each episode offered new insight into what might have happened. Things didn’t add up and the school was full of secrets.

Underneath the mystery, the series is character driven and very much about relationships and caring for one another. Maddie, in particular, was great at helping people – probably because of a lifetime of taking care of her drunk mother.

I confess the final surprise at the end of season 1 of School Spirits threw me for a loop. It took me a while to understand what it meant. It opens up a big new landscape for season 2 and even more mysteries to come.

The women directors were Oran Zegman and Hannah Macpherson. The series is based on a graphic novel by Maria Nguyen and Megan Trinrud. It streamed on Paramount+ first, and has now migrated to Netflix. The best I can figure out by searching, it looks like season 2 will be on Paramount+ but I don’t know if it will again move to Netflix.

Have you watched this one yet? What did you think of it?

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