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School Spirits

School Spirits season 1





Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

When you’re a teenager, sometimes high school can feel like an eternity. But for Maddie Nears, high school is an eternity.

Maddie became a ghost after dying in the boiler room. She’s not exactly sure how. Worse still, the police don’t either because her body was never found. And they’re still treating it like a missing persons case, not a murder investigation.

All Maddie knows is that one minute she was ditching study hall, and the next she was … dead.

Luckily, she’s not the only ghost stuck between life and death looking for answers.

Split River High Afterlife Support Group

There’s a whole community of souls stranded at Split River High. One kid died from anaphylactic shock after ingesting peanut oil. Another guy died during a football game due to a tackle gone wrong. And there’s a whole group of teens who died when a bus crashed on campus during a terrible storm.

They’ve formed a sort of support group as a means of finding closure so that they can “move on.” So far, only one girl has managed that: Janet, who had been there since the ‘60s.

But Maddie isn’t really interested in finding closure or moving on. She just wants to find the person who killed her and make them pay.

Only she won’t be able to haunt her way to answers. Contrary to what horror movies would have her believe, nobody can see Maddie and the others. Or hear them, or interact with them in any way whatsoever.

Except Simon, Maddie’s best friend. Nobody is quite sure how, but Simon can see and hear Maddie. And like Maddie, he wants answers.

But as the support group keeps warning Maddie, she may not like what she discovers.

We’ve Got Spirits, Yes We Do

For obvious reasons, School Spirits will probably not make some families’ watch lists. Dealing with ghosts and murder is just not pleasant. (And as Maddie’s murder mystery unfolds, we’ll likely see the gritty details.)

But the show has other problems that will likely steer families away. Foul language (including uses of the f-word) and drug use both come into play. Maddie’s mom also is an alcoholic; when Maddie was alive, she took it upon herself to be her mother’s caretaker.

The sexual encounters witnessed here aren’t as explicit as say, HBO Max’s Euphoria, but there’s still a lot going on. Charley, the ghost who died from a peanut allergy, is gay. He spends his free time spying on today’s teenage boys as they shower (we see exposed rear ends). Maddie and her boyfriend, Xavier (who also happens to be her and Simon’s number-one murder suspect), get quite steamy around campus. And though they haven’t done the deed on screen as of the second episode, that isn’t to say we won’t see a flashback later on in the season.

Don’t be fooled by the show’s teenage characters. These content concerns take School Spirits firmly into the TV-MA territory. And parents would be advised not to let their own teens be haunted by its content.

Episode Reviews

Mar. 9, 2023 – S1, Ep1: “My So-Called Death”

We see blood on the walls of the boiler room where Maddie died. Another ghost, Rhonda, says that she was murdered too—at the hands of her guidance counselor, no less. Other ghosts describe their own deaths (though most were accidental). Charley speculates how a ghost from the ‘70s died, referencing cults.

Two teenage boys get into a fistfight at school. One boy is accused of killing Maddie after he’s found with her missing phone. We hear a detailed description of the film Carrie.

Maddie’s classmates and teachers are often tactless about her death. Many of the ghosts warn Maddie that those who appear to mourn now will likely move on within a matter of weeks. Maddie is disturbed by how accepting the rest of the ghosts seem to be of their untimely deaths.

Charley takes Maddie to his “office,” which turns out to be the showers of the boys’ locker room, where many teen boys are currently bathing (and we see exposed rear ends). To avoid getting caught by a teacher, Maddie (still alive at that point) and Xavier hide in a locker-room shower. Xavier strips and covers his genitals with his hands so the teacher won’t come into the shower. Two teen boys hold hands and make out in the back of an assembly. Another couple heavily kisses in another scene. We see some exposed midriffs on teen girls. A teenage couple smooches a few times. We hear about an unfaithful boyfriend.

Maddie gets upset with her boyfriend for using drugs at school (via a vape pen). We hear that Maddie’s mom is “sobering up.” Later, when her mom shows up at school, it’s clear she’s still partially inebriated. There’s a reference to LSD.

People lie. We hear about bullying (and witness some on screen). There’s a mocking reference to God. God’s name is misused four times, and Christ’s name is abused once. The f-word is heard twice, the s-word 10 times. We also hear uses of “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n,” “d–k” and “h—.”

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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