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‘school spirits’ review: bland paramount+ ya drama may give you ghost fatigue.

Peyton List plays a ghost investigating her own murder and discovering that the afterlife is a lot like high school.

By Daniel Fienberg

Daniel Fienberg

Chief Television Critic

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Peyton List

Chances are good that, if you know me in the real world, you’ve heard me repeat/paraphrase/mangle the Samuel Johnson quote, “[W]hen a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” I believe that deeply.

School Spirits

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School Spirits boasts hints of clever dialogue, a mystery that, if nothing else, isn’t easily solvable within the first three episodes sent to critics, and a decent lead performance from Peyton List (the Cobra Kai vintage, not the former Mad Men co-star). What it can’t do is emerge as anything more distinctive than a bland blend of the aforementioned Boo, Bitch and Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why , a show that didn’t feature a literal ghost but was surely driven by a metaphorical ghost. It’s an afterlife after-school special.

Adapted by Nate Trinrud and Megan Trinrud from their upcoming graphic novel, School Spirit begins with List’s Maddie already deceased. To her fellow classmates, Maddie is just missing, which upsets her still-living friends Simon (Kristian Flores) and Nicole (Kiara Pichardo), as well as her bad-boy boyfriend Xavier (Spencer MacPherson), who becomes an immediate suspect in her disappearance.

As befits TV convention, the high-school ghosts are trapped in some sort of limbo. They died at or around the school, which may be why they can’t leave? And they can’t change their clothes, so they’re forever trapped representing both the character archetype and the time of their demise. There’s a jock from the ’80s (Milo Mannheim’s Wally), a grouchy girl from the ’50s who may be dressed like somebody’s idea of a stereotypical beatnik (Sarah Yarkin’s Rhonda) and a ’60s or ’70s hippy (RaeAnne Boon). If this conceit is already sounding a LOT like Ghosts , well, it is.

The ghosts attend daily counseling sessions run by Mr. Martin (Josh Zuckerman) and they dream of someday ascending or something, though nobody exactly understands the process. The overall symbolism is made clear to Maddie by her handy tour guide Charley (Nick Pugliese), a gay ghost from the ’90s, who says: “It’s just moving from one prison to another. Only difference is that high school used to feel like an eternity and now it actually is.” A good idea, overexplained and underexplored.

Is this appropriate for a premise primarily built around teenage ghosts? I suppose so. Does part of me still aggressively wonder how TV’s recent run of ghost and ghost-adjacent shows have removed any trace of religion — or “faith,” if you prefer something less structured —from the afterlife? Yeah. Not everything needs to be Touched by an Angel , all treacly religion, or the second season of Russian Doll , in which Jewish mysticism is smartly woven throughout. There’s a large expanse between “saturation” and “absolutely nothing” when it comes to life after death, a concept that is deeply tied to belief systems in the real world, but not on television. And don’t get me started on the visual blandness and even claustrophobia that can set in on a show in which nearly every bit of the action is set in and around a generic high school that the living and dead perceive identically.

In concept, the afterlife seems like a boundless and marvelous thing. School Spirits makes it small and uninspired. There are traces of undead rules and motivations that might be interesting — Charley’s backstory strikes the show’s only emotional chord, while the ghosts’ “field day” delivers its only real amusement — but those things take a backseat to Maddie trying to cross the border around the school and being cosmically returned, face-first, to the boiler room over and over and over again.

The mystery is driven by the writers withholding information, not by anything truly twisty, though Patrick Gilmore and Ian Tracey are good as a couple of the grown-ups who are presented as too sketchy too early on to be anything other than red herrings. That means that after three episodes, I don’t have a clue who killed Maddie or where her body is, and I may mean that literally — as in, viewers haven’t been given enough clues to build theories.

Maddie isn’t an especially consistently written character, but List gives her a scrappy attitude and, in Maddie’s believable annoyance with her situation, offers viewers the freedom to be annoyed as well. The only note in Maddie’s backstory that has any resonance is her alcoholic mother, played by Maria Dizzia with an intensity that’s believable without aligning with anything else in the show.

Too many of the supporting roles are interchangeable — several of the ghosts serve an identical purpose and lack voices that match their thin basic descriptions — or underwritten. If we’re supposed to invest in a single one of the show’s relationships — living or spectral, romantic or otherwise — I haven’t latched on yet. There’s actually some audacity in a show like this aimed at young viewers that doesn’t offer even a whiff of “shippable” chemistry between any of the characters.

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‘School Spirits’ Episode 1 Recap: “My So-Called Death”

School Spirits Episode 1

Maddie’s life was cut short, but that’s almost not the worst part of being dead. Since she was murdered at her high school, Maddie’s stuck spending every minute of the afterlife roaming Split River High’s halls. Talk about being trapped in hell! Paramount+’s School Spirits follows Maddie ( Peyton List , Cobra Kai ) as she attempts to solve her own murder while learning to exist (not live) with other ghosts doomed to high school purgatory.

Episode one, “My So-Called Death,” finds Maddie watching from the bleachers as the school’s assembled to discuss her disappearance. It’s obvious Maddie wasn’t the most popular student – self-involved cheerleaders can’t even remember her name – but at least her two BFFs and boyfriend are upset that she’s gone.

The cheerleaders bust out in an inappropriate routine, given the circumstances, which they end by dedicating to “Maggie.”

The assembly does, however, serve a purpose. The first clues are dropped that a substantial amount of blood was found in the boiler room and that Maddie’s phone is still on campus.

Charley (Nick Pugliese), a super helpful fellow ghost, is Maddie’s mentor and reminds her she can’t be seen or heard. He also suggests her body will be discovered soon and she’ll go from missing person to murder victim.

Maddie’s confused about what’s expected of her and thinks it’s possible she’s actually in a coma. She wills herself to wake up, but Charley quashes that dream. For all the trapped spirits, high school has gone from just feeling like an eternity to an actual eternity.

Charley convinces a reluctant Maddie to sit through a group therapy session. Among the ghosts she’ll be hanging out with for maybe eternity are Rhonda (Sarah Yarkin), a pretty lollipop-sucking teen who died in the ’60s and is into Kerouac and confrontation; Wally Clark (Milo Manheim), a class of ’84 jock who died during a football game; and Mr. Martin (Josh Zuckerman), the leader of the Split River High Afterlife Support Group.

Maddie confesses that all she can remember is that she was ditching study hall and now she’s dead. She freaks out when she learns she’s the first among them who can’t remember her death.

School Spirits Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

A flashback introduces her boyfriend, Xavier (Spencer Macpherson), as well as BFF Simon (Kristian Flores), who disagrees that there needs to be a remake of Carrie . He and Maddie are horror fans and have plans to go to the Night of the Living Dead screening that night. Simon forgot to print his ticket and Maddie gives him a hard time.

The flashback also reveals Maddie’s mom has a drinking problem and is getting treatment, so Maddie’s home alone. The third member of the BFF group, Nicole (Kiara Pichardo), joins the discussion and they decide to throw a rager. Simon’s jazzed all three are college material and will be leaving Split River after graduating.

Maddie spots Xavier heading to his truck and checks out of study hall early to find out what he’s up to. They talk briefly and she leaves him in his truck to get high, still unsure why he didn’t join her in study hall like he promised. Back inside the school, Maddie takes another look at Xavier in his truck and notices he’s on his phone – even though he claimed it was dead.

Very curious. Xavier is now Suspect #1.

And now back to dead Maddie watching Xavier in the parking lot again. She doesn’t think he’s handling her death well and Charley reminds her the living have no clue ghosts are walking among them, so there’s no way she can help Xavier.

She can’t go back, but Charley reveals it’s possible to eventually cross over to the great beyond…whatever that may be. Charley thinks that can only happen if the ghosts stick together, which brings them to the one ghost who prefers solitude. Maddie and Charley look at Dawn (RaeAnne Boon) sitting on top of the lockers as Charley explains they don’t know how she died, but it was the ‘70s so it might have been bad acid or a cult thing.

Maddie learns another ghost rule: she can touch items and even hold them, but the living won’t see what she’s doing. (This explains why/how she can open doors to enter rooms rather than walking through walls.) She rips a missing flyer with the word “dog” rudely scrawled over her face off of a locker, but in reality, it remains right where it was.

Charley says her situation could be worse. She could be stuck in eternity marching around school like the six marching band members who died in a bus accident.

Maddie watches as Simon loses it in front of Ms. Fields’ class. He’s pissed no one cares Maddie’s missing and that not a single person signed up for the search party. Xavier’s the main target of Simon’s anger and as they argue, Simon grabs Xavier’s backpack to keep him from leaving. Maddie’s missing phone flies out!

Xavier’s hauled into Principal Hartman’s office and Maddie eavesdrops. Maddie thinks Xavier must have been using her phone to find her, but Charley suggests she needs to take a time out. She’s getting far too worked up over this.

Charley invites her to his office…otherwise known as the boys showers…where he enjoys the view. He confesses he died because he forgot his EpiPen on the one day the French fries were fried in peanut oil. Apparently, they continued to bully him even after his death, making jokes about him being a gay kid in the ‘90s who was allergic to nuts.

School Spirits Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

Simon insists Xavier’s guilty, but Nicole doesn’t want to rush to judgment. Maybe Maddie gave Xavier her phone, and maybe Maddie’s just out of town. Simon stops her to point out that Claire (Rainbow Wedell) is acting weird and waving at Xavier through the office door.

Wally tries to help Maddie figure out what’s going on and interrupts as she listens in on Nicole and Xavier’s argument. Maddie wonders if Wally was missing anything when he showed up as a ghost and he wasn’t. She reveals her backpack was with her when she died, but she doesn’t have it now.

Another flashback to Maddie’s last day shows Xavier making up an excuse to skip the Night of the Living Dead screening after receiving a text. Simon gets her attention and they watch her mom have trouble parking in the school lot. While they’re distracted, Xavier snatches her phone from her backpack.

Maddie grabs her backpack, unaware Xavier took her phone.

Ghost Maddie realizes she’s also missing her necklace.

Maddie watches Simon and Nicole confront Xavier about her phone. Simon attacks Xavier, but it’s Xavier who lands a punch to the face. After Xavier’s pulled off him, Simon’s even more convinced Xavier is the killer. (He’s looking incredibly sketchy at this point.)

Maddie demands her ghost support group help her get answers by terrorizing the living. Unfortunately, in School Spirits’ version of the afterlife, ghosts aren’t capable of that. There’s no way to interact with the living.

Maddie refuses to take no for an answer. She wasn’t ready to die and is going to search the town for answers if that’s what it takes.

And up pops another rule… If you die in the high school, you can’t leave school grounds. Attempting to sends you back to the spot of your death. Maddie repeatedly tries to leave and each time she winds up back in the boiler room. Dawn laughs and then warns her it’s fun the first few times but on the fifth attempt, it’ll start to hurt.

Maddie doesn’t listen and tries again with the same result. She finally pauses and looks around the boiler room, examining the roped-off crime scene and a spray of her blood on the boiler. She looks closer and finds more of her blood on different parts of the machine.

While staring at the crime scene, she has a flashback of herself looking panicked and yelling stop.

She eventually gives up and returns to the support group in the gym as Rhonda’s talking about being murdered by her guidance counselor. Rhonda’s able to make jokes about it now, and Mr. Martin suggests holding onto the past can only hold a person back.

The discussion’s interrupted as students arrive in the gym for another assembly about Maddie. Even Maddie’s mom, Sandra (Maria Dizzia), is in attendance as Principal Hartman explains they’re trying to spread awareness about Maddie’s disappearance. Sandra admits Maddie would be embarrassed that she’s there but then she’s too overcome with emotion to finish her speech.

Hartman instructs the students they can each take one candle (and only one). They’ll head outside for a vigil while keeping their eyes open in case any clues to Maddie’s whereabouts have been missed.

Xavier tries to join the group but is stopped by his dad, Sheriff Baxter, and led out of the gym. He questions Xavier and Xavier confesses he had Maddie’s phone because he was protecting her. He didn’t want Maddie to learn he’s been hooking up with Claire the cheerleader, and he was trying to get rid of a text he accidentally sent to Maddie that was meant for Claire.

“I didn’t know she wasn’t coming back, dad,” says Xavier, tears in his eyes.

Maddie hears the entire conversation. Xavier’s no longer Suspect #1 in her book.

Simon stops in a classroom to speak with Ms. Fields before going to the vigil. He apologizes for acting up in class earlier in the day, and confirms he believes something bad happened to Maddie. He’s known her forever and doesn’t think she’s a person who runs.

“She has seen things. She has faced things that no one should ever have to. She doesn’t get scared. She doesn’t run,” says Simon. If she did, Simon would know.

He confesses he has no idea how he’ll survive high school without Maddie.

Students pause on their way to the vigil to take photos of Xavier in the back of his dad’s squad car.

Candles are lit as everyone stands outside thinking about Maddie. Or not.

Ms. Fields comforts Simon as he cries and then leaves him alone in the classroom to collect himself. Maddie watches her friend, who’s so obviously in pain, and as he looks out the window at the students gathered for the vigil, Maddie stands just a foot away also looking outside.

Charley watches from the doorway as Maddie turns to Simon and thanks him. Simon slowly turns his head toward her and says, “Maddie?!” She’s shocked and replies, “Simon?”

So, Maddie’s only been dead a few days and is already breaking all the Split River High School ghost rules!

Final Thoughts:

Episode one did a terrific job of introducing the key players, and Peyton List is incredibly good at moving along all the storylines and bouncing between her living friends via flashbacks and her new ghost compadres.

Season one focuses on the search for not just Maddie’s killer but also her physical body. Multiple suspects spring up early on, and the first three episodes do a decent job of tossing in some red herrings. But it’s really the interactions between Maddie and Simon, and Maddie and Charley, that make School Spirits so entertaining.

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  • Season 1 Episode 2 “The Fault in Our Scars” Recap
  • Season 1 Episode 3 “Dead and Confused” Recap
  • Season 1 Episode 4 “Ghoul Intentions” Recap
  • Season 1 Episode 5 “The Twilight End Zone” Recap
  • Season 1 Episode 6 “Grave the Last Dance” Recap
  • Season 1 Episode 7 “Seance Anything” Recap
  • School Spirits Season 1 Episode 8 “Maddie’s Body” Recap


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school spirits episode 1 review

‘School Spirits’ Is a Charming Teenage Ghost Story: TV Review

By Daniel D'Addario

Daniel D'Addario

Chief TV Critic

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SCHOOL SPIRITS: “Seance Anything” (L-R): Sarah Yarkin as Rhonda, Milo Mannheim as Wally, Peyton List as Maddie and Nick Pugliese as Charley in season 1, episode 7 of the Paramount+ series SCHOOL SPIRITS.   Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Paramount +     © 2023 AwesomenessTV Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Awesomeness, ATV, School Spirits and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of AwesomenessTV. Paramount+ is a trademark of Paramount Pictures. Created for Television By Nate & Megan Trinrud.

As is well known by anyone who’s ever had the common nightmare of a last-minute test for which one hasn’t studied, being stuck in high school forever would be horrible.

Comparisons announce themselves easily: CBS’ “Ghosts,” for instance, or Alice Sebold’s novel “The Lovely Bones,” adapted into a film by Peter Jackson, which also told the story of a high school girl watching life move on after her murder. But “ School Spirits ” is more high-stepping and lively than the latter, less morose. What’s happened to Maddie is obviously as sad as it gets, but her story is told with a wryness and charm that should attract teen fans. In sequences in which Maddie is learning the ground rules of ghostliness (she cannot leave the school building, for instance), I was reminded of the jaunty and sharply observed early sequences of the great movie crowd-pleaser “Ghost,” before “Unchained Melody” starts playing and tears begin to flow.

Created by sibling duo Nate Trinrud and Megan Trinrud, “School Spirits” has at the core of its story an engaging enough mystery — who killed Maddie? But its heart seems to be in the reality its early episodes create: There’s frankly vastly more interest in seeing the customs and mores of teen ghosts from different decades vibing together than there is in cracking the mystery. For Maddie, death has taken away a great deal, but it has also presented the chance to break into a new social circle, and List rises to the challenge of showing us Maddie’s mordant wit and her ability to find the joke under grave circumstances. Without losing sight of the sorrow of Maddie’s story, “School Spirits” manages to be surprisingly sparky and fun — proof positive that there are new stories to tell about the institution no one would ever want to be stuck in for their entire afterlife.

“School Spirits” premieres its first three episodes on Thursday, March 9, on Paramount+ .

Paramount+. Eight episodes (three screened for review).

  • Production: Executive producers: Oliver Goldstick, Nate Trinrud, Megan Trinrud, and Max Winkler.
  • Cast: Peyton List, Kristian Flores, Spencer MacPherson , Kiara Pichardo, Sarah Yarkin, Nick Pugliese, Rainbow Wedell, Milo Manheim.

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘School Spirits’ On Paramount+, Where A Teen Stalks Her School As A Ghost And Tries To Figure Out Who Killed Her

Where to stream:.

  • School Spirits
  • peyton list

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Ghosts trying to make contact with people in the living world is nothing new on TV; in fact, it’s been around since the medium’s early days (look up Topper to see exactly how long it’s been ). It’s one of those genres that depends on two things: The “rules” by which the dead interact with the living world and the story that these spirits are in. In a new Paramount+ series, Peyton List plays a newly-dead teen who just wants to know what the hell happened to her.


Opening Shot: A bell rings. A teen is in the empty bleachers of the high school gym at Split Rock High School and she’s watching the crowd sitting on the gym floor.

The Gist: Maddie Nears (Peyton List) is watching the principal talking to students about a missing girl, and she’s annoyed at the lip service people are paying the girl when they didn’t know her really well. How does she know? Because the missing girl they’re looking for is Maddie. No one knows she’s there watching, because she’s dead.

She’s informed of this by a frosted-haired teen named Charley (Nick Pugliese). He apparently died at the high school in the ’90s, and his afterlife has been spent there ever since. Because she died at the high school, she’ll be there indefinitely until she “crosses over,” but that’s rarely happened.

Charley introduces Maddie to a “support group” that includes other dead students, like football player Wally Clark (Milo Manheim) and self-styled poet Rhonda (Sarah Yarkin). Not everyone takes part in the group, but the teacher who leads it, Mr. Martin (Josh Zuckerman) thinks it’s a way for the spirits to talk out the past so they can concentrate on the present and not get stuck forever at the school.

Unlike the other members of the group, Maddie has no idea how she died. She thinks back to the day it happened, three days prior. She sees her boyfriend Xavier Baxter (Spencer Macpherson) cut a class and sit in his truck; he claims it was because his phone was dead and it needed a charge. She wants to see an update of Carrie with best friend Simon Elroy (Kristian Flores). And with her mother Sandra (Maria Dizzia) sobering up, she has the house to herself, so she wants to throw a party with “all her friends,” i.e. Simon and their buddy Nicole Herrera (Kiara Pichardo).

As she goes around the school — she tries to leave the property but repeatedly finds herself back in the school’s boiler room, where she starts to see evidence of what happened to her — she sees Simon and Xavier at odds, especially when it’s discovered that Xavier has her phone. She finds out during a vigil for her that Xavier stole her phone to delete a text he sent to her by mistake, instead of head cheerleader Claire Zomer (Rainbow Wedell).

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? School Spirits is like Ghosts , but less funny. Though there are funny moments, like Charley calling the men’s showers his “office.”

Our Take: Created by Megan Trinrud and Nate Trinrud, School Spirits does a good job of setting up Maddie’s ghostly situation without hammering the “rules” of it over our heads. “You can touch, but you can’t change anything in their world,” Charley tells Maddie.

It does seem that Charley is there at first to give her some guidance, and tell her why certain students, like the hippie chick who just sits on top of the lockers and giggles, or the band members that continually march in circles, don’t move on. But he can’t explain how people like him, who try to look forward, are stuck there for decades.

List, who is best known as Tory Nichols on Cobra Kai , plays Maddie as a combination of strong and independent, with a determination to bust the usual afterlife system to find out who killed her. Maddie is pissed, not scared; she’s frustrated that she can’t connect with anyone in the living world (at least not yet) and can’t leave the school’s premises. She has no time to contemplate that she’s dead and doomed to wander the halls of Split Rock indefinitely.

What we don’t understand is why the rest of the group aren’t more frustrated. They’ve all wandered these halls for decades, with no end in sight. They have no idea what it takes to get them to cross over, but they’ve seen it happen. So they seem to exist without any existential panic. Now, that’s something that may be revealed about Charley, Wally or some of the others over time, but it’s the only part of the first episode that was disconcerting to us. They all seem to do their time and attend the support group and just accept the fate they’ve been handed.

But that aspect of the show isn’t as significant as the mystery of how Maddie died and who was responsible for her death. And the mystery is set up well, with some clues and some misdirection given in the first episode. It’ll be intriguing to see how things change when the parameters of how Maddie interacts with the living world changes (see below).

Sex and Skin: Nothing in the first episode.

Parting Shot: Simon, distraught over Maddie’s disappearance, tells a teacher that he knows her to well to think she ran. He looks out the window at the vigil for her. Maddie also looks out the window and says his name. Miraculously, Simon hears her.

Sleeper Star: Maria Dizzia plays Maddie’s mom Sandra, who comes to the school for the vigil, which confuses Maddie. Their relationship will likely be examined more in-depth via flashbacks (which we see via scenes shot in 4:3 format), and it’ll be interesting to see how it relates to Maddie’s death.

Most Pilot-y Line: “I can totally help you fill your holes,” Wally tells Maddie. He means the holes in her memory that surround her death. But of course, any chance for a cheap “fill your holes” death can’t be passed up, right?

Our Call: STREAM IT. We were pleasantly surprised by how mature of a show School Spirits was, not just because of List’s steady lead performance, but because it doesn’t delve in the current cliches that drag down most high-school dramas. In other words, no house parties and no sex scenes (yet); it’s just a fun, ghostly mystery to watch.

Joel Keller ( @joelkeller ) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, , , Fast Company and elsewhere.

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School Spirits: Season 1 REVIEW – A+

We’ve got spirit, yes we do.

school spirits episode 1 review

Most teen shows could learn a thing or two from School Spirits. With a poster that proudly proclaims “ From an executive producer of Pretty Little Liars ”, this could have ended up just another dark and suspenseful teen drama trying to recapture the success of, well, Pretty Little Liars.

However, there is so much life, energy, and heart put into School Spirits, it easily stands on its own and forms its own identity, separate from the other teen mystery shows that came before it. The best way I can describe this show’s atmosphere is that it feels like nostalgically flipping through a high school yearbook while listening to a true crime podcast.

School Spirits follows Maddie, a high school senior who discovers one day that she’s a ghost stuck in her school because she died there — at least, that’s what the other ghosts also stuck in her school tell her. She, on the other hand, can’t remember how or why she died, and everyone who’s alive just seems to think she’s gone missing. Still, Maddie isn’t giving up. She’s finding out what happened to her, no matter how impossible it may seem.

Movies like The Edge of Seventeen and Banana Split have pretty much changed the game for what’s considered a good “teen” performance, but nobody would’ve gotten too mad at a teen streaming original for having subpar performances. The cast of School Spirits, however, is pretty phenomenal.

Every major teen character is perfectly cast, boasting natural performances from every cast member in almost every scene. This is a really talented group of young actors and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them end up having strong careers in Hollywood.

The standout cast member really is Peyton List as Maddie, though, who pretty much turns this show into her very own star vehicle. List plays the sarcastic smart-talking but good-natured teen girl with such ease and flair, she’s captivating to watch. It certainly helps that her character is a substantially likable and well-written protagonist, especially since most young adult properties have the most boring lead characters.

Actually, every major teen character in this show is surprisingly well-written. They all feel like genuine teenagers with all the flaws that come with being a teenager, but also all the greatness that comes with it either. No teen character is perfect in this one, but none of them are also completely devoid of likeability.

It’s actually really refreshing considering shows like Riverdale and Euphoria constantly have their teen characters act much older than 17. Maybe I just had a sheltered teenagerhood, but my high school friends and I were just kids figuring out things like friendships, grades, and plans for college. The teens in School Spirits are the same way and a lot of the show’s scenes are just them dealing with the problems and insecurities that typically accompany being that age.

That’s another great thing about School Spirits — despite its premise making it very easy for the show to be constantly dark and gritty, School Spirits doesn’t shy away from light-hearted moments at all. The young characters are allowed to be young and enjoy things like football games and homecoming dances.

Characters are allowed to laugh and make silly jokes with each other, and for a show about a bunch of teen ghosts who died too young, it can be quite humorous at times. One particularly funny and touching scene is when Maddie is talking with her best friend Simon about horror movie monsters, something they both love. It just felt so endearing and genuine to how two teen best friends would actually talk.

There’s a strong focus here on the relationships the characters have with each other, and I really do mean with each other, not just with Maddie. By the end of the first season, I had a strong sense of how each character felt about another, regardless of how much screen time they had together. A lot of these relationships are actually very endearing and feel genuine to how teen friendships usually are.

They can be complicated and don’t always display the healthiest of decisions or reactions, but they can also be intense and remarkable. When you’re a teenager, your best friends can be your whole world, and you sometimes find friendships in people you never would’ve expected to find friendships in.

And when School Spirits gets into the suspense and mystery, it’s thrilling and addictive. Following this show for six weeks was an elating experience — overthinking episode cliffhangers, reading theory after theory online, and having in-depth discussions with friends over lunch made the weekly release format of the show feel justified. This is one of those shows where every episode will have you at the edge of your seat, holding your breath, desperate to find out what happened to Maddie.

This leads us to the show’s most polarizing aspect: its ending. Without getting too much into spoiler territory, School Spirits ends with a big reveal — a smart decision, by the by, since dragging out the mystery into another season would’ve been exhausting — but one which seems to have divided the fandom into two, with some loving it and eagerly awaiting the second season, and some loathing it.

Now, I think School Spirits is a fantastic show regardless of its ending, but with a show like this, it’s almost impossible to have an ending that’ll please everyone. Mystery shows have always been about the journey and not the destination for me, but if you disagree, School Spirits might be a show you’ll want to proceed with caution for.

Nobody’s going to deny the show’s great editing and camera work, though, especially since School Spirits clearly doesn’t have that big of a budget. Still, with all their limitations, the show is still visually impressive and aesthetically pleasing, especially when the episodes transition from present to past and vice versa. Scenes that take place in the past have a filter and a different aspect ratio, looking like a Polaroid picture in motion.

All in all, School Spirits is a welcome surprise in the crowded teen drama genre, one that more teen offerings should be trying to emulate. We need more teen shows that humanize their teen characters rather than turn them into caricatures. School Spirits proves you can have that without having to give up the addictive nature of shows like Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl. Equal parts sentimental and stirring, this show doesn’t waste a single minute of any of its episodes.

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School Spirits Season 1 Episode 8 Quotes

Maddie: I know it's not what we thought we'd find, but... I had this when I went to look for her. And I didn't have it when I showed up here. Simon: There could be a completely logical, non-murderous explanation for this. Maddie: Get her here. I always know when she's lying. I know all her tells. If you can get her in a room with me... Or with us, you can talk to her, and we can figure out if... my mom... Okay. Simon: Okay, I'll figure something out. Maddie: Simon? Yesterday, what you said about whether or not us figuring it out means me moving on... Simon: Don't worry about that right now. Maddie: I was being selfish. Simon: You're never selfish. Maddie, if it was her, are you sure you wanna know? Permalink: You're never selfish. Maddie, if it was her, are you sure you wanna know? Added: April 13, 2023
Simon: Where should I look? Maddie: Try the dresser. She used to hide bottles in her closet. If she took that money, it'll be in one of her usual hiding places. She's gotten less and less creative over the years. When she's really desperate, she even uses my room. Permalink: Try the dresser. She used to hide bottles in her closet. If she took that money, it'll be in... Added: April 13, 2023

School Spirits Season 1 Episode 8 Photos

Pondering the Future - School Spirits Season 1 Episode 8

4/13/23 School Spirits Season 1 Episode 8 Madison's Body

Simon Helps Maddie With Her Mom - School Spirits

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School Spirits

School Spirits (2011)

Centers on telling real ghost stories of hauntings that have taken place in colleges and high schools across the U.S. and will be told through first-person narratives from actual students, p... Read all Centers on telling real ghost stories of hauntings that have taken place in colleges and high schools across the U.S. and will be told through first-person narratives from actual students, parents and faculty. Centers on telling real ghost stories of hauntings that have taken place in colleges and high schools across the U.S. and will be told through first-person narratives from actual students, parents and faculty.

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School Spirits (2011)

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'School Spirits' Season 1 Ending Explained: What Happened to Maddie?

It's not what you think.

Editor's note: The below contains spoilers for the season finale of School Spirits. Maddie Nears ( Peyton List ) has had a hell of an afterlife in just a few weeks on Paramount+’s School Spirits . Over the course of the season, she’s learned hard truths and discovered those she loved are not exactly who they claim to be. Her boyfriend Xavier ( Spencer MacPherson ) was cheating on her with former bestie Claire ( Rainbow Wedell ), making him the first suspect to investigate with her best friend and connection to the side of the living, Simon ( Kristian Flores ). Together, they’ve revealed a teacher was embezzling money from the school, watched an innocent man framed for a crime they know he didn’t commit and had to come to terms with their incredibly poor treatment of the third member of their trio, Nicole ( Kiara Pichardo ). Maddie has been forced to reconcile with a life cut short, while her friends struggle to imagine a future without her. Meanwhile, the other spirits haunting Split River High School — namely, Wally ( Milo Manheim ), Charley ( Nick Pugliese ), and Rhonda ( Sarah Yarkin ) — have taught Maddie about the other side while desperately trying to find a way to deal with their unfinished business and finally move on.

However, despite everything Maddie has learned thus far, nothing could prepare her for the revelation at the end of the season’s penultimate episode . After falsely accusing Nicole, and finally learning about what she had been hiding, Maddie’s memory flashes back to her as she pictures her mother Sandra ( Maria Dizzia ) yelling at her on the day of her death. Despite their horrific history, could Maddie’s mother have really killed her? That’s the question as we head into the season finale, which wonderfully shakes up the series in a way we haven’t seen since the finale of NBC’s The Good Place Season 1. Plus, after Dawn ( RaeAnne Boon ) moved on, the ghosts felt something that they didn’t when Janet moved on back around the time Maddie died. What’s that about? Let’s break down the game-changing events of the episode.

RELATED: Where to Watch 'School Spirits' Starring Peyton List

Maddie Learns Some Uncomfortable Truths About Her Mother

As the episode begins, Maddie has Simon investigating her mother. She tells Simon about all of her mother’s hiding places around the house, places where she had stored alcohol over the years. When he doesn’t find anything in Sandra’s room, he moves to Maddie’s, as Maddie said that eventually, Sandra began to hide things in there, too. Simon does find something — an envelope that Sandra was looking at in a prior episode — and finds something major inside: Maddie’s necklace, which she was wearing on the day she died but didn’t have on her as a spirit. So, they move to the next step, which is to get Sandra to the school so Maddie can watch as Simon questions Sandra, as Maddie knows all of her tells and when Sandra is telling the truth. Luckily, an opportunity arises quickly as Ms. Fields ( Kalyn Miles ) tells Simon that Maddie won an award, and he suggests Sandra accept the award on Maddie’s behalf.

Simon brings Sandra into Ms. Fields’ classroom under the guise of working on a speech honoring Maddie, but really to question her about the necklace. She tries to evade the conversation, one of her specialties, but he keeps pushing with Maddie’s assistance, and they finally discover the truth about what happened when Sandra showed up at the school, drunk, on that fateful day. But, we don’t learn the truth from just Sandra. When Maddie touches her necklace, she remembers seeing her mom that day. Overly excited, Sandra showed up and told Maddie she didn’t need to stay in rehab, but had great news instead. Maddie drags her away, and Sandra tells Maddie that she bought a cabin up north that she heard about from someone in rehab. Sandra also says she used the money they put away when Maddie’s father died, which was her college fund. Sandra says they’ll figure it out and schools are cheaper up north, but Maddie fights back and says she’s going to school in Chicago to get away from Sandra. But, the bell rings, so Maddie brings her mother down to the boiler room — the last place she was alive.

Maddie tells Sandra she’s going to fix this and get the money back, but Sandra explains that she paid with a cashier’s check and Maddie needs to “get over it” and “realize [she’s] the adult] in their relationship. Then, finally, Maddie tells her mother off for her neglect and mistreatment over the years. How Maddie didn’t get to be a kid after her dad died because nobody was looking out for her, instead she had to look out for her mother. Heartbreakingly, Maddie explains that Sandra is trying to take away everything that her dad gave to her. She throws her necklace at Sandra with a cruel, but necessary comment about how she can pawn that for around $40 and buy herself a welcome mat for her new home. Sandra begins to say something, but Maddie cuts her off and tells her to leave. Sandra takes the necklace and leaves Maddie alone in the boiler room, crying. So, her mother did not kill her. Who did? At the very least, the accusation finally makes Sandra confront what a terrible mother she was and how Maddie deserved better in a heartfelt and powerful speech as she accepted the award.

The Living and the Dead Are Motivated to Find Answers

As Simon and Maddie focus on Sandra, Xavier, Claire, and Nicole are trying to find another lead to get the janitor freed without revealing their own secrets. Xavier happens to show up at the station as his father, the Sheriff, is getting a tip about the person who has been breaking into homes in the area. Xavier steals the address, and the three of them decide to stake it out that night. After a while, nobody shows up, so Xavier and Nicole decide to take a look inside for clues about who’s staying there, leaving Claire in the truck. But, while they’re inside, Claire notices someone sneaking in and runs in after them. There’s a scuffle, as the person runs outside and gets in Xavier’s truck — with the keys left inside — and turns it on. Xavier makes it to the back of the truck when the person puts it in reverse and backs into him, hard, knocking him to the ground and splitting his head open. Nicole records the truck driving away before calling emergency services when Xavier passes out. When she watches her recording again, though, she notices something unbelievable and sends the video to Simon.

Meanwhile, as Maddie and Simon attempt to coerce Sandra into a confession, the other ghosts are in their daily circle and asking Mr. Martin ( Josh Zuckerman ) questions about what they felt when Dawn moved on versus when Janet did. Mr. Martin aims to get them to drop the subject, becoming worked up as they suggest that facing the memories of how they died might allow them to move on. The others ask Mr. Martin what he means when he shouts that it’s too painful, thus turning their attention away as he recounts his own death. He explains that he died in a fire caused by a student in the chemistry lab, but managed to save all of his students at the cost of his own life. Despite Mr. Martin’s attempt to distract them, Wally and Charley are motivated to find answers. Rhonda, not so much. She fights back when Charley tries to get her to join them in digging for answers.

Together, they begin digging into the school’s history without her, looking over previous editions of the school’s newspaper. Their best guess for how Dawn crossed over is she finally confronted her death, which makes them curious about Janet’s death. But, as Wally moves in reverse chronological order, he’s confused when he doesn’t find anything from 1960 about Janet’s death, which is when she had always told them she died. Instead, he finds an article about the school building a fallout shelter in the location of the old chemistry lab where Mr. Martin died in 1958. The catch? The article goes on to say Janet died with him in the fire. Why did they both lie and hide their connection? To find answers to their new questions, Wally and Charley head to the fallout shelter to investigate. They quickly find Mr. Martin’s hidden stash of notebooks analyzing each of the spirits psychologically, along with the obituaries they wrote for themselves. They find a copy of the football play that Wally was doing when he died, while Charley reads a news clipping about how Janet’s parents wanted to hold the administration accountable for Janet dying in a fire started by Mr. Martin, not a fellow student as he explained to them. And, Wally notices that none of the journals even mention Janet. To make matters worse, Rhonda bursts in and asks what they’re doing before revealing a box filled with items related to each of the spirits’ deaths, like the football from the game where Wally died. With all of this knowledge about Mr. Martin’s nefarious deeds, it only makes sense that they’re subsequently locked in the fallout shelter.

What Happens to Maddie's Body?

After watching the video Nicole sent, Simon finds Maddie. Before he can explain, Maddie decides to read him the obituary she wrote for herself. She explains her trust in Simon and how he’s been her greatest friend, confessing that she loves him in a way that’s bigger than life or death. But, it doesn’t quite have the impact she expected. Instead, Simon shows her a frame from Nicole’s video of her face in the mirror of Xavier’s truck from that night. Simon believes the Maddie he’s been talking to is fake, a figment of his imagination because she’s actually alive, and he walks away. She pleads for him to believe she’s real and he’s not crazy, trying to chase after him, but goes too far and ends up in the boiler room. She hears her friends screaming for help from the fallout shelter, which triggers her final forgotten memories from the day she “died.” That day, she heard a girl crying for help from the fallout shelter. When she opened the door, she saw Mr. Martin yelling at someone. (The details of how she saw a ghost while alive aren’t exactly clear, though Mr. Martin’s research suggests that confronting someone’s deepest trauma thinks the veil between the living and the dead.)

Before she can assess the situation, Maddie sees a figure charging at her — Janet — as Mr. Martin calls out to her. Janet possesses Maddie’s body, knocking Maddie’s own spirit out. Thus, Maddie’s body is still alive, but can she ever return to it? Not if Janet has her say, as she buys a bus ticket to get the hell out of town. Now, Maddie’s friends think she is alive and has abandoned them. She no longer has Simon to help her. Mr. Martin’s actions have finally been exposed, though there’s still a major mystery regarding his relationship with Janet and what exactly occurred on that fateful day. But, before Maddie can save the others and open the door to the fallout shelter, Rhonda yells out that she “can’t trust him.” Maddie asks who, but her answer is quickly answered by Mr. Martin standing creepily at the top of the stairs.

Every episode of School Spirits is now streaming on Paramount+.

But Why Tho?

But Why Tho?

REVIEW: ‘After-School Hanako-kun’ Episode 1

After-School Hanako-kun is set to immerse us once again in the world of Japanese urban legends and playful toilet spirits, inspired by the popular Toilet-bound Hanako-kun series. Derived from the Japanese urban legend of “Hanako-san” (or “Hanako of the Toilet”), Hanako-kun is one of Japan’s renowned bathroom apparitions.

The series follows the spirit Hanako-kun and his human companion, first-year student Nene Yashiro, as they maintain peace between supernatural forces and the students of Kamome Academy. When they’re not engaged in the battle to uphold the harmony between the living and spirit realms, how do they spend their free time? We Hanako-kun and Nene on their post-school escapades in After-School Hanako-kun Episode 1.

For those who haven’t experienced the original series, it’s a delightful plunge into the unknown, particularly with its concise ten-minute runtime, making it an easily digestible introduction. Split into two stories, After-School Hanako-kun Episode 1’s opening provides a suitable background on the notion of the Seventh Wonders of the school, the bathroom spirit Hanako ( Megumi Ogata ), and his relationship with Nene ( Akari Kitou ), his human assistant.

The show successfully captures the manga’ s aesthetic, offering a swift and comprehensive look into the dynamics between these two characters and the terms of their unique arrangement. Hanako’s strong personality is evident, and it’s clear how Nene willingly accommodates his whims. After-School Hanako-kun Episode 1 balances the comically cute cruelty of Hanako with Nene’s pleasant nature. It effectively introduces the cast and their personalities in a short span, a simple but essential feature for newcomers like myself. While the initial story might throw a lot at viewers, the fast-paced plot adds to the show’s charm, complementing its webtoon-style animation.

As the second story unfolds, there is enough information for even someone unfamiliar with the original series to grasp the dynamics and become engrossed in the ensuing madness. This makes it easier to delve into the second story, where Hanako is besieged by mokke spirits, which essentially claim his toilet stall. Nene proves her proficiency in managing such situations, and the revelation that the mokke believed killing Hanako would make them the new “Wonder” is a comical twist given their adorable creature design.

The shift towards a more formal interview session to understand their intentions is entertaining, as their motivations are blatantly obvious and honest. The mokke, despite their cuteness, exhibit a wide range of weapons and harbor thoughts of world domination, which might be surprising for Western viewers. However, the humor does a great job of lightening the mood when the mokke suggest they will enslave the human population.

By faithfully adhering to the style of the original work, After-School Hanako-kun Episode 1 caters to fans while offering something distinctive to everyone else. Although the initial episode didn’t immediately draw me into the original series, I am eager to follow this colorful cast of characters in a low-pressure, ten-minute weekly format. It’s easy to become engrossed in the show, and even for those familiar with the basic concept, the series presents it in an engaging and enjoyable manner. While I hope to explore some of the flashback moments that flash by during the fast-paced runtime, I am content to savor the jokes and absurdity that come with these brief ten-minute episodes.

After-School Hanako-kun is streaming now exclusively on Crunchyroll with new episodes every Tuesday.

The post REVIEW: ‘After-School Hanako-kun’ Episode 1 appeared first on But Why Tho? .

After-School Hanako-kun Episode 1 - But Why Tho

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The Ending Of School Spirits Season 1 Explained

Peyton List looking confused

Watch out! Spoilers ahead for Season 1 of "School Spirits."

Catching modern audiences by surprise with a plot twist is a tall order these days, but the Paramount+ series "School Spirits"  is up for the challenge. Like "The Good Place,"  the series about teen ghosts serves fans with a wild shakeup at the close of Season 1 that changes everything. As it turns out, our presumably dead protagonist Maddie doesn't seem to be dead at all — at least not when it comes to her body.

As for the show's other key players like Mr. Martin and the elusive Janet, well, they're not exactly what they seem. The ending of Season 1 of "School Spirits" doesn't necessarily have a clear-cut explanation. Certain aspects of its twists, turns, and betrayals are up to fans to suss out until we hopefully get a Season 2. But until that happens, let's dive into the murky waters of "School Spirits" Season 1 and analyze just what the ending and all of its implications mean for the series and its future.

What you need to remember about the plot

What happens if you die while at school? Apparently, you get stuck in the halls of your high school forever while your spirit remains a teenager. In other words, it's basically hell. "School Spirits" kicks off when teenage outcast Maddie enters what appears to be Purgatory at her school. It's a state between the living and the next phase of the afterlife where nothing the spirits do affects the living, but the ghosts can interact with inanimate objects.

Upon Maddie's seemingly untimely demise, she finds a group of spirits from various decades trapped in the school, but she's different from the others. Not only does Maddie not remember how she died, but she can communicate with her living best friend Simon — an ability that's out of the norm for spirits. Given that Maddie's body has been missing from the very beginning, Simon agrees to work with her spirit to find answers.

The other dead kids talk about a girl named Janet who allegedly crossed over, but when the resident hippie Dawn crosses over after the closure provided by Maddie's pep talk, her departure is accompanied by a display of supernatural flickering lights. That didn't happen for Janet, who was just gone one day. Meanwhile, the adult teacher Mr. Martin has led the group for decades, but no one seems to notice just how shady he's been from the start. He encourages the kids not to dive into their past, which is the only thing that will bring them enough closure to move on. It's almost as if he's keeping them there on purpose.

Hang on ... is Maddie alive?

Maddie's living friends conclude their investigation in the final episode of the season, and they're unprepared for what they witness: Maddie. When Nicole catches a glimpse of Maddie driving a truck, the group assumes that she faked her death and is responsible for all the chaos that has ensued ever since. As a result, Simon thinks he's been hallucinating his conversations with Maddie's spirit, and she loses her ally in the living world.

Meanwhile, Maddie's merry band of dead misfits sleuth out the school's old fallout shelter (and the location of Mr. Martin's death) where he's kept creepy experimental notes from the group and the objects they died with. After Mr. Martin traps the kids in the fallout shelter, their cries for help trigger a memory for Maddie. When she was still alive, Maddie went to investigate an argument she heard between Mr. Martin and Janet — even though Maddie was presumably still alive at that point.   She gets metaphysically pushed back when Janet appears to jump towards her.

In the present, the spirits trapped by Mr. Martin tell Maddie that she can't trust him, and a looming Mr. Martin is the last we see of our heroes. Afterward, someone calling themself Janet flees town on a bus using Maddie's body. Interestingly enough, the bus she takes is from Byway Bus Lines — a subtle acknowledgement that the story veers off from expectations.

What does it all mean?

Like the show melds the lives of the living and dead together, the end of "School Spirits" merges the past and present. One of the series' themes is that nothing is stagnant — even when you're dead. The spirits continue to learn and grow when they're given the space to do so, all while the living kids attending their school change on an annual basis.

Through this method of storytelling, Maddie remembers how she "died" and clues in the audience. Without the bus scene, Maddie's fate would be more debatable, but it's pretty safe to say that Janet hopped into Maddie's body and left her spirit bodiless.

The whole chain of events began with the discovery of bribery money, and Janet posing as Maddie likely possesses the cash stash. The bus attendant snipes at "Maddie" for handing over a "large bill" that she takes out of a knapsack. Fans can do the math on that one.

Janet doesn't seem outwardly evil, though. Beyond the fact that she's running from the town that's hell-bent on discovering the truth behind Maddie's disappearance, Janet seems fearful to be living again. The '50s teen also appears to be on the run from something much more dangerous than the discovery of her true identity and the unfamiliar modern world.

What else could it mean?

There's one significant piece of the puzzle that's easy to miss but possibly changes everything. When Maddie recalls the last moments of her waking life, she appears to hear, and possibly even see, Janet and Mr. Martin arguing. At the very least, she observed some commotion between the two of them.

It seems like all of the suspects have been cleared; no members of the living world attacked Maddie. She was upset and crying alone when she checked out the source of the arguing, and that's when all hell broke loose. Unless there's still a missing puzzle piece, it doesn't appear that she was on the brink of death, which could have explained her ghostly abilities toward the end of her life.

Alternatively, Maddie might have a gift for communicating with spirits that started working before her apparent "death." Now, ghosts have been haunting the halls of her high school for decades, so in theory, something would have had to trigger that ability for her not to notice them earlier. It's even possible that this gift was what allowed Janet to claim her body in the first place. It could also explain her ability to speak to her best friend as a displaced spirit, though we can also chalk that up to the fact that she's a trapped spirit whose body is still alive — technically, Maddie might not even count as dead at all. It's equally possible that Mr. Martin's authoritarian regime over the ghost kids prevents them from accessing their full potential as spirits — maybe they can all do the same tricks Maddie does.

The mystery of Mr. Martin

The plot twist of Mr. Martin shadily preventing the kids from moving on isn't all that surprising to anyone who's been to a group therapy session. From the very beginning, the teacher is cagey and a little sinister. Maddie immediately pushes back against his methods, sparking a revolution of sorts with the rest of the dead teens. During the very first group therapy session, we see Mr. Martin underhandedly thwart any positive epiphanies within the students — which is a pretty simple explanation for why they've all been hanging around for decades.

Yet, for some reason, Mr. Martin protests when Janet enters Maddie's body. We still don't have the full picture of why that is, but one explanation revolves around his hobby of treating the dead kids like lab rats. Maybe he wants more data to clock the ramifications before moving forward with the experiment. On the other hand, his protests could have easily been the product of his need for control, rather than any actual empathy for a teenager whose life is getting stolen.

There are strong implications that the fire Mr. Martin died in seems to have been started by the teacher himself, and Janet died with him. Maybe Mr. Martin killed them both when she spurned his predatory advances, trapping her with him for eternity. Rhonda seems inclined toward this theory. Janet could have taken Maddie's body not out of malice, but because she wanted to escape from the adult who'd likely been controlling her for decades.

Does the cast of 'School Spirits' have any ideas?

The ending of the first season of "School Spirits" hits the mark for an investigative TV show, and Peyton List, who plays Maddie, agrees. During an  interview with PIX 11,  List noted that the "School Spirits" showrunners also worked on "Pretty Little Liars" — another teen show that nails an investigative component. She also said that it's a "satisfying ending." 

List has some ideas about Maddie that, if proven true, nix the theory that Maddie has some kind of latent supernatural abilities. She spoke to  Collider about the ending and insisted that Maddie is a pretty regular girl. On the notion of the teen spirits thinking Maddie is special, List said, "It's a really frustrating moment for them. They've all been stagnant for so long, and it wakes them up to the possibility of something else." She added, "There's nothing really special about Maddie as a person that is any more special than any of them. That's the thing about Maddie. She's a great person, but also so average."

However, List went through Season 1, choosing not to know the ending, so it's entirely possible that Maddie will get a supernatural storyline in the future. On how she and the writers approached spoiler territory for the ending, she said, "They kept the finale on lock and what happened to Maddie a secret, and I'm glad that they did because Maddie didn't know, the entire time, so it made it easier for me. I didn't wanna know." And though they offered to spill the beans to List if she wanted, she opted for a more authentic approach where she discovers things alongside her character.

What the end of Season 1 could mean for the series

The ending of "School Spirits" changes everything for the series. We go from diving into a murder mystery to learning that Maddie wasn't murdered at all. Additionally, the show shifts from being a whodunit to a much more nuanced investigation of life, death, and the ins and outs of the afterlife.

Instead of honing in on finding a killer, a possible Season 2 will have to navigate the rules and limitations of the spirit realm and find a way around them to help Maddie retrieve her body and get her spirit back inside. A natural progression would be an "X-Men" -style storyline where the kids learn to use their powers and test the limitations of the barrier that keeps them stuck in the school. After all, there's no way to get Maddie's body back if they can't actually get to the body.

Like any show that begins as an investigation of one hyper-specific question, "School Spirits" will likely have to reinvent itself on a seasonal basis to keep the mystery fresh. But one thing's certain: If Maddie does get her body back, it will doom her budding relationship with Wally. Alternatively, it would allow her to explore any latent feelings she may have for Simon.

Helping the school spirits cross over

So, what happens to the school spirits if Maddie gets her body back? When it comes to closure, Charley gets far more than Dawn throughout Season 1. He closes up his most significant regret when Maddie has Simon leave a letter for Charley's high school sweetheart to find. Yet, that isn't enough to get him to cross over. Alternatively, Dawn crosses over when she simply hears that she's worthwhile and a good friend; Dawn finally believes it herself after years of people failing to take her seriously.

So, there's clearly something keeping the kids here. One explanation is that the work needs to be done inward rather than outward. Sure, Charley sent the letter, but did he really forgive himself? Most of the kids are long past being able to obtain tangible closure from family and friends, given how long it's been. That likely means the kids aren't being held back by what they do, but what they feel.

Another possibility is that the uncertainty surrounding Maddie and her missing body could be keeping her friends in stasis. Perhaps Maddie's own closure, or the retrieval of her body, will be the key for the rest of the kids to move on. They've become quite close, after all. Maddie's entrance into Purgatory has sparked more change within its metaphysical walls than decades of Mr. Martin's nonsense, so she'll no doubt play a role in getting her friends to move on either way.

school spirits episode 1 review

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school spirits episode 1 review

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school spirits episode 1 review

School Spirits - Season 1 - Review

school spirits episode 1 review

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School Spirits

2017, Adventure/Comedy, 1h 28m

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School spirits   photos.

Zoey finds herself uprooted from her Chicago home and dragged to a small town filled with secrets and spooky happenings. When she witnesses something she can't explain in the school pool, she teams up with two girls to expel the spirits.

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

Original Language: English

Director: Allison Eckert

Producer: Christopher Babers , Terrance Hines , Alex Levine , Enrico Natale , Ryan Kirby , Steve Sirkis , Levi Smock

Writer: Caitlin Kleppinger , Christina Kleppinger

Release Date (Theaters): Oct 6, 2017  limited

Release Date (Streaming): Oct 7, 2017

Runtime: 1h 28m

Production Co: MORE Productions

Cast & Crew

Alysia Reiner

Audrey Whitby

Jessie Pearson

Piper Curda

Tara Freeman

Steve Monroe

Morgan Walker

Tiffany Alvord

Philip Labes

Scott Slade

Christian Delgrosso

Ryan McKinnan

C.J. LeBlanc

Allison Eckert

Caitlin Kleppinger


Christina Kleppinger

Christopher Babers

Terrance Hines

Alex Levine

Enrico Natale

Steve Sirkis

Guy Griffithe

Executive Producer

Bryan E. Miller

Original Music

Daniel Marks


Jon Jorgensen

Film Editing

Nickole Doro

Shayna Sherwood

Monique Dias

Production Design

Esmeralda De La Cruz

Art Director

Destinee Dickerson

Set Decoration

Costume Design

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Home » Streaming Service » John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

John Carpenter's Suburban Screams Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams   Episode 1 follows the story of a group of friends who accidentally summon the ghost of a local murder victim. As the friends try to communicate with the ghost things quickly turn weird and strange, causing mass chaos and a fitting start to Season 1 of the horror maestro’s original Peacock series.

The following recap contains major spoilers.

A man speaks about 1999 and details the neighborhood and how it felt safe to live in the town. We get a flashback as the man narrates what happened between him and his girlfriend. In the flashback, he awakens to his girlfriend going through his drawers in his house, searching for money to buy drugs. He finally broke up with her and moved on.

Later at a party, he makes his own Ouija board, and we see the group begin to use it. They begin to attempt to talk to spirits, and after Dan’s first “joke” of trying to spook them, the Ouija board starts to move on its own. It spells out a name, Kelly, and May suggests they stop playing with the board.

Who is Kelly?

After the girls dispersed from the room, May went outside rather emotionally. Dan said they had nothing to do with the latter part of the Ouija. May told Dan that she had a cousin, Kelly Fitzgerald, and they were really close when they were little. However, when she grew up she started to get into drugs, and they grew apart. Furthermore, she explained that she went missing a long time ago .

As a result of May telling Dan the story, Dan starts to wonder what really happened and suggests that they try the Ouija board one more time. So the four of them get back together to give it another try. They call out for Kelly again, and we get a flash of this girl in the water in a bag that causes Dan to vomit. Dan told everyone that he could see her drowning, and everyone said they started to feel like something more was happening.

Who does Kelly’s spirit attach herself to?

Although Kelly was May’s cousin, she has attached herself to Dan because he seemingly tries to help her . We see him go into the woods, where we hear Kelly whisper to Dan, “Help me.” He continues to try to do so until she somewhat overtakes his body, making him fall to the ground.

Dan spent months in the basement trying to talk to Kelly again but got nothing in return. In his attempt to reconnect with her, he returns to the woods where we see him get a flashback of what the men had done to Kelly. After seeing a medium, she tells Dan that Kelly’s spirit had an emotional connection with him and he needed to let her know she was murdered.

John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams Episode 1 Ending Explained

Upon returning to the woods and informing Kelly she wasn’t alive, she grabbed him by the body and threw him into the water. The following day, two guys find Dan, and he tells them to look over for her, and we see the red bag with Kelly’s body inside.

How did Kelly die?

After finding the body, the police reported that Kelly had passed away from a drug overdose. The men she was with wrapped her in a sleeping bag and put her in the river because they thought she was dead . However, Dan doesn’t believe that is what happened and says he won’t be able to rest until he figures out what happened to Kelly.

What did you think of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams Season 1 Episode 1? Comment below.

Additional reading:

  • John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams Season 1 Episode 2 Recap

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  1. School Spirits: Season 1, Episode 1

    school spirits episode 1 review

  2. School Spirits Trailer

    school spirits episode 1 review

  3. School Spirits: How Many Episodes Are In Season 1?

    school spirits episode 1 review

  4. School Spirits (2017)

    school spirits episode 1 review

  5. School Spirits Episode 1 Recap: "My So-Called Death"

    school spirits episode 1 review

  6. School Spirits (2017)

    school spirits episode 1 review


  1. School Spirits Season 1 Episode 7

  2. SCHOOL SPIRITS Season 2 Release Date

  3. How Did Mr. Martin Die In School Spirits?

  4. School Spirits

  5. School Spirits Episode 1 Reaction


  1. School Spirits

    My So-Called Death. Episode 1 of School Spirits starts with Maddie watching as the Principal addresses the school about the fact that she is missing. The Principal is hopeful that Maddie will be found safe and other students try to recall who Maddie was. One of the cheerleaders tells her friend that the police found blood smeared in the janitor ...

  2. School Spirits Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

    We recap the Paramount+ series School Spirits Season 1 Episode 1, "My So-Called Death," which contains spoilers. School Spirits is a drama based on a teen stuck in the afterlife who decides to investigate her disappearance with a group of people who are stuck in the same boat at their school. The ten-episode series stars Peyton List in the lead role and is based on an upcoming book of the ...

  3. 'School Spirits' Review: Paramount+ YA Drama Induces Ghost Fatigue

    School Spirits boasts hints of clever dialogue, a mystery that, if nothing else, isn't easily solvable within the first three episodes sent to critics, and a decent lead performance from Peyton ...

  4. School Spirits Episode 1 Recap: "My So-Called Death"

    Paramount+'s School Spirits follows Maddie ( Peyton List, Cobra Kai) as she attempts to solve her own murder while learning to exist (not live) with other ghosts doomed to high school purgatory. Episode one, "My So-Called Death," finds Maddie watching from the bleachers as the school's assembled to discuss her disappearance.

  5. School Spirits Season 1 Review

    We review the 2023 Paramount+ series School Spirits Season 1, which does not contain spoilers. School Spirits is an eight-episode drama series on Paramount+ based on a book set to come out in late 2023. The story follows a teenager stuck in the afterlife, trying to figure out how she got there. The show explores relationships, love, and what it ...

  6. School Spirits

    Audience Reviews for School Spirits: Season 1. Oct 04, 2023. ... I found myself suspecting someone new of Maddie's murder with every episode lol. I look forward to seeing season 2 and hopefully ...

  7. School Spirits: Season 1

    School Spirits: Season 1 Reviews ... The series struggles to build and maintain tension other than ending episodes on cliffhangers. Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 ...

  8. School Spirits: Season 1, Episode 1

    Episode Info. While acclimating to purgatory at Split River High, Maddie becomes determined to solve the mystery of her disappearance. While observing those she left behind, Maddie begins to ...

  9. 'School Spirits' Review: A Charming Teenage Ghost Story

    Peyton List leads 'School Spirits,' a Paramount+ drama, which has a gruesome central mystery that doesn't overshadow its elegant, crisp writing.

  10. School Spirits: Season 1, Episode 1

    Episode Info. Sorority sisters moved into a huge old house; disturbing things began to happen immediately; a figure of a young man terrorized the ladies. Genre: Other. Network: SYFY. Air Date: Jun ...

  11. 'School Spirits' Paramount+ Review: Stream It Or Skip It?

    School Spirits is like Ghosts, but less funny. Though there are funny moments, like Charley calling the men's showers his "office.". Our Take: Created by Megan Trinrud and Nate Trinrud ...

  12. School Spirits

    Buy Season 1 Buy Season 1 Subscription Season 1 Buy Season 1 Watch School Spirits with a subscription on Paramount Plus, or buy it on Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV. Rate And Review

  13. School Spirits: Season 1 REVIEW

    Verdict. Engrossing from start to finish, School Spirits proves the teen drama genre still has a lot of stamina left in it thanks to its stellar writing and cast, with a particularly star-making ...

  14. School Spirits Season 1 Episode 8 Review: Madison's Body

    After School Spirits Season 1 Episode 8, it's hard to imagine the fine folks at Paramount+ not keeping the show around because that was one of the most satisfying hours of TV in years. "Madison's ...

  15. School Spirits: Season 1, Episode 8

    Episode 8 Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8. Madison's Body. School Spirits: Season 1. 1 Reviews ALL CRITICS TOP CRITICS. Episode Info.

  16. School Spirits (TV Series 2011- )

    School Spirits: With Justin Morck, Benjamin Leasure, Ben Broad, Gabriella Baldacchino. Centers on telling real ghost stories of hauntings that have taken place in colleges and high schools across the U.S. and will be told through first-person narratives from actual students, parents and faculty.

  17. 'School Spirits' Season 1 Ending Explained: What Happened to ...

    Maddie Learns Some Uncomfortable Truths About Her Mother. As the episode begins, Maddie has Simon investigating her mother. She tells Simon about all of her mother's hiding places around the ...

  18. School Spirits Season 1 Episode 8 Recap and Ending Explained

    We recap the Paramount+ series School Spirits Season 1 Episode 8, "Madison's Body," which contains spoilers and explains the Ending. After weaving in and out of so many people accused of killing Maddie ( Peyton List), we have reached the season finale of School Spirits. The battles among the whodunnit are coming from different angles ...

  19. REVIEW: 'After-School Hanako-kun' Episode 1

    Split into two stories, After-School Hanako-kun Episode 1's opening provides a suitable background on the notion of the Seventh Wonders of the school, the bathroom spirit Hanako (Megumi Ogata ...

  20. School Spirits

    Bone-chilling re-enactments of the narratives help to bring the hauntings to life for viewers. Prolific reality-TV producer Mark Burnett ("Survivor") serves as an executive producer on the ...

  21. The Ending Of School Spirits Season 1 Explained

    Here's how School Spirits Season 1 wraps up. ... EXCLUSIVES MOVIES TV STREAMING COMICS REVIEWS NEWS FEATURES. ... Maddie's living friends conclude their investigation in the final episode of the ...

  22. School Spirits

    Receive news and updates about School Spirits - Season 1 - Review whenever something new comes out. Track. School Spirits - Season 1 - Review Posted by Myriam Akbar-April 25, 2023 0 MY. ... Watching this series felt like watching an episode of the early 2000s television series, Ghost Whisperer. Not only in plot and theme, but the earthy yet ...

  23. School Spirits

    When she witnesses something she can't explain in the school pool, she teams up with two girls to expel the spirits. Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy. Original Language: English. Director ...

  24. School Spirits

    Madison's Body. Episode 8 of School Spirits starts with Maddie sitting on the rooftop wondering if her mom killed her and why. In the meantime, Simon is checking Maddie's room at her house to see if Sandra hid the money there. He finds the envelope Sandra hid among Maddie's things the day prior.

  25. John Carpenter's Suburban Screams Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

    John Carpenter's Suburban Screams Episode 1 follows the story of a group of friends who accidentally summon the ghost of a local murder victim.As the friends try to communicate with the ghost things quickly turn weird and strange, causing mass chaos and a fitting start to Season 1 of the horror maestro's original Peacock series.. The following recap contains major spoilers.