People are always fascinated by mysteries. Whether it’s strange unsolved cases from real life or thrilling stories created from fiction, either is excellent fodder for entertainment. Lucky for fans of mysteries, in between the season’s newest holiday movies, a thriller dropped on Netflix over the weekend and climbed its way to the #8 spot in TV shows today. It’s The Mess You Leave Behind, an eight-episode Spanish series that’s dark and full of intrigue.
Carlos Montero — the creator of Elite, one of the best LGBTQ+ TV shows on Netflix — adapted The Mess You Leave Behind from his own novel. While it isn’t exactly clear until the end of the first episode, The Mess You Leave Behind is made up of the parallel stories of two different high school teachers: Raquel (Inma Cuesta) and Viruca (Bárbara Lennie).
Raquel replaces Viruca but soon finds herself investigating her predecessor’s death, who is thought to have committed suicide. Veruca’s ex-husband Mauro (Roberto Enríquez) insists to Raquel that she was murdered, leaving Raquel obsessing over what happened. Unfortunately for Raquel, it’s her students that seem to be involved.
The Mess You Leave Behind tells the tale of two contrasting teachers
There have been several great thriller movies this year, but sometimes only a series will scratch that itch for an engaging, slow-burn mystery. While The Mess You Leave Behind is driven by the tension between the students and the teachers, for many, its strength is in the contrast between its two protagonists.
In her review of the series, Sheena Scott of Forbes writes, “Viruca is a confident and self-assured woman, willing to reveal a painful secret to her students in order to gain their trust. Raquel, by contrast, lacks Viruca’s confidence, fumbling through her classes, not ever really able to fully control her students.”
On the flip side, however, Jonathon Wilson of Ready Steady Cut found the twin timelines to be confusing at times, writing, “The steady pace, sometimes unclear temporal transitions, and determinedly off-putting students are a barrier to entry here. Eight meaty episodes is perhaps also a couple too many.”
All eight episodes of The Mess You Leave Behind are available for streaming on Netflix now.