The Mess You Leave Behind

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Mess You Leave Behind TV Poster Image
Solid murder mystery series has cursing, booze, lots of sex.

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age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

It’s a murder mystery, but one that includes themes like dysfunctional relationships, coping with grief, and bullying. 

Positive Role Models

Raquel is extremely insecure, while Viruca is extremely confident. A teacher has an inappropriate relationship with a student. Students are shown bullying a teacher both in and outside of the classroom. It’s a Spanish cast, but some are ethnically diverse and speak Galician and Spanish.


A mysterious death is central to the series, and suicide and the death of parents are discussed. There are scenes of people yelling and arguing, teens waving guns and bullying teachers. Vandalism is shown, and death threats are made. 


There is strong sexual content (including simulated sex scenes and nudity), and an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a high school student.


Spanish language curses ("j-der," "p-ta," "c-ño," etc.) are frequently used. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine and hard liquor is consumed, and cocaine use is suspected and discussed. Cigarette smoking is also visible. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Mess You Leave Behind is a limited Spanish whodunit murder mystery series (with English subtitles) that contains strong sexual content (including simulated sex scenes and nudity), and an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a high school student. There’s lots of cursing (spoken in Spanish, with the English subtitles), some yelling and arguing, bullying behavior (towards a teacher), and death threats. Guns are also seen. Drinking and smoking is visible, and and cocaine use is referenced. 

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Teen, 15 years old Written byLoranikas303 January 16, 2021

What's the story?

Adapted from the award-winning Spanish novel of the same name, THE MESS YOU LEAVE BEHIND (El desorden que dejas) is a dramatic thriller about a teacher committed to uncovering a dark secret. Raquel (Inma Cuesta) moves with her husband Germán (Tomar Novas) to the fictional Galician village of Novariz, his childhood home, after the death of her mother and his father in order to salvage their marriage. She’s not very confident about her job, which makes her an easy target for some of the students, including the wannabe-gangster Iago (Arón Piper), his friends Roi (Roque Ruíz), and Nerea (Isabel Garrión). Adding to her stress is the fact that Viruca (Bárbara Lennie), the teacher she is replacing, died under mysterious circumstances only three weeks prior. But when she learns that Viruca’s husband Mauro (Roberto Rodriguez) suspects that she was killed, Raquel begins her own private investigation of events. Meanwhile, flashbacks of Viruca’s life leading up to her death provides a lot of insight, and points to more potential suspects. 

Is it any good?

This engaging mystery (which is subtitled in English) takes viewers on a deliberate, slow-paced journey that smoothly reveals both Viruca's and Raquel's stories in their own specific timelines. The narrative highlights the stark differences between them, and the way they are connected. There’s plenty of dramatic irony, thanks to the audiences knowing more about Viruca’s lived experiences than Raquel or anyone else in the cast. 

It’s entertaining, but some of the students’ behavior, which is mostly designed to highlight Raquel’s personal insecurities, is a little tough to negotiate. Meanwhile, folks may find some of Raquel’s dream sequences, which sometimes appear as flashbacks, a little confusing, given the constant back-and forth between the two timelines. Nonetheless, The Mess You Leave Behind is still a compelling contemporary whodunit that will keep viewers wondering who is responsible for the victim’s death until the end. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the differences between TV and movie entertainment from Spain and from the United States. Is there content in Spanish programming that isn’t featured in Stateside-produced entertainment? What has contributed to the growing popularity of Spanish TV series in the United States? 

  • The Mess You Leave Behind tells a story consistently using two different timelines. In what ways does it manage to enter and exit from one to the other? Are there ever moments when you find yourself surprised about what timeline the story takes you to?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramatic thrillers

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