THE MESS YOU LEAVE BEHIND is a new Netflix series from Spain. A thriller-mystery about two female teachers working the same job – but months apart. One tries to solve the mystery surrounding the death of the other. Read our full The Mess You Leave Behind series review here!

THE MESS YOU LEAVE BEHIND is a new Netflix thriller series from Spain (org. title El desorden que dejas). The plot of this thriller – set in rural Galicia – is told through two timelines that intertwine the story of its protagonists.

As a fan of Spanish genre productions, I was really looking forward to this thriller-mystery. Unfortunately, I didn’t really find myself enjoying it very much. The story features too many unlikeable characters for my liking. I’m okay with having this feeling as the story progresses, but I felt roped into disliking most of them from the get-go. That’s not how I get hooked on something. 

Continue reading our The Mess You Leave Behind series review below and check it out on Netflix now.

The cast of El desorden que dejas

The two main protagonists – with stories that play out in two timelines that intertwine for various reasons – are played by two well-known Spanish actors.

First, we have Raquel as the new teacher who just arrived at the high school in this village. A small town where everyone seems to know everything about everybody. It’s also the birth town of her husband, who still has strong ties there since his family owns a restaurant in town. Raquel is portrayed by Inma Cuesta (Criminal: Spain, La novia) and I liked her in this role immediately!

Viruca is the other main protagonist. She’s the teacher being replaced by Raquel after her own character suffers a very tragic ending. More on that in the series since this is actually the main plot. Viruca is portrayed by Goya winner Bárbara Lennie (Magical Girl, El Reino). While I certainly found this character intriguing, I also felt like it’s hard to get under her skin.

The Mess You Leave Behind – Netflix Review

The teenagers at this high school

I can’t help but feel grumpy and old as I write this, but I found the teenagers at this high school extremely annoying. Whenever they interacted with any teacher, they behave like spoiled kids that know they can get away with anything.

In one scene, you might see a girl giving a powerful speech to her peers and think “You go, girl!” (or something a little less cringe-worthy). However, in the next scene, this girl will meet a new teacher and behave like a spoiled brat. Despite having no reason to. Especially on the heels of giving a speech about girl power and fighting the patriarchy.

It felt like it was written by someone who constantly complains about millennials. All while not realizing that these kids aren’t even millennials. They’re actually Gen Z which means they’ve grown up online and virtually live online. Yet, we don’t see them too much on their phones, but we’re supposed to accept that they’re somehow all tech geniuses?!

Also, the boy who wants so desperately to be a tough guy comes across as a walking cliché. Again, I have a feeling this will change as the series progresses, but it is way too heavy-handed during these first episodes. The character’s name is Iago and he’s portrayed by Arón Piper from the Netflix series Élite (2018-2021). He is much better than what you see here!

Do all Spanish men wear earrings?

Also, why is it that all men – from teenagers to those in their 40s – in The Mess You Leave Behind wear these big earrings in one ear.

Sure, we see men all over the world with earrings. I may even have noticed this even more so in Spanish productions. But not on every male character. In fact, not even when I went to Spain in early 2020 myself (before the pandemic put an end to traveling), did I see this many Spanish men with earrings.

Anyway, I know this is just a pet peeve of mine. Not men wearing earrings, of course, but that it becomes so obvious that they’re all making the same fashion statement. It just irks me and draws focus that I’m suspecting was not the point.

Sort of like how all the doorknobs in the Christmas horror-comedy Better Watch Out were all up high on the door (it’s an Aussie thing and it was filmed in Australia). Also, that movie is damn good, so you notice it a couple of times and then move on. In The Mess You Leave Behind it just becomes part of, well, the mess of this story.

Watch The Mess You Leave Behind on Netflix!

Carlos Montero is the creator of The Mess You Leave Behind on Netflix. He’s the writer of all the episodes and also directed 2 out of the eight episodes in this limited series. An additional two directors each directed three episodes as well. Carlos Montero directed the two first, Silvia Quer (Élite) the next three, and Roger Gual (7 años) directed the final three episodes.

Not only is Carlos Montero the creator of this Netflix series, but he also wrote the book this series is based on, which means he has adapted his own story. This is something I often think is a plus, but again, this series didn’t do much for me. However, since Carlos Montero is also the creator of the popular Netflix series Élite, I can see why he was given this chance.

If you’ve managed to read this far, I’m sure you’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not crazy about this Spanish Netflix series. And you would be correct. However, I also want to acknowledge that I had different (and too great) expectations for this thriller series. I’m sure there’s an audience that will love this Netflix series. I’m just not one of them.

The Mess You Leave Behind is out with all 8 episodes of the series from December 11, 2020.

Details

Creator: Carlos Montero
Stars: Inma Cuesta, Roberto Enríquez, Bárbara Lennie, Tamar Novas, Arón Piper, Alberto Abuín

Plot

A teacher starts her job at a high school but is haunted by a suspicious death that occurred there weeks before… and begins fearing for her own life.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard