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Peyton List of ‘School Spirits’ & ‘Cobra Kai’ Discusses the Characters, Her Work, & TV Topics

Welcome back to TV Topics, where host Steven Prusakowski walks guests through their TV watching landscape. Every episode we have one guest who sits in for the entirety of the show to discuss their relationship with television plus to do a deep dive into their latest work. For this episode we speak with an actress whose work is enjoyed by viewers of all ages with dozens of roles across film and television.

You will know her from roles on Netflix’s Cobra Kai playing the tough-as-nails Tory Nichols, or for the younger crowd from her work as Emma Ross on shows like Bunk’d and Jesse. There’s also the show that you need to be watching this summer where she plays Maddie, a spirit investigating who is behind her disappearance on Paramount+’s School Spirits. It’s the talented and charming, Peyton List.
(You can listen to the full conversation below.)

Peyton sat down on the TV Topics couch where we asked questions about her TV viewing experience: the surprising shows that make her cry, what series she would wish to have one more season, what series she would like to live in, and much more. Some of the most entertaining answers came in response to our Peyton-specific TV Topics questions – one of which pit her most popular roles against each other, a question she labeled, “the best question ever.” She had the perfect answer for the unique mashup of a question.

Another of Peyton’s answers had me thinking, ‘I think you should leave.’ No, not leave the podcast – I was referring to the outrageous Netflix comedy series, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. It is the series Peyton named as the one which makes her laugh most. Plus, when asked about appearing on it, she expressed how she “would LOVE to be on that.” We support the cause and hope Tim Robinson is listening in, ready to add Peyton to the season four cast. We’d love to see it.

Next, we take a break from Peyton’s trip down TV-watching memory lane to dive into her incredible starring performance as Maddie, on School Spirits. The conversation explores what goes into making the series, which co-star originally ‘frustrated’ the cast at first (who she now cannot help love working with), plus if we find out if she has any insights into who is behind her character’s disappearance. We cover a lot while keeping it spoiler-free. If you are not watching School Spirits yet, it is great summer viewing that keeps you wanting more. And, for fans of Tory Nichols, there is plenty of Cobra Kai talk too!

Below are some excerpts from our conversation. Be sure to listen to it in its entirety in Episode 7 of TV Topics featuring Peyton List. Along the way, it was great learn she is not only a wonderful TV Topics guest, but also a fan of podcast too. And to think we thought we could not like her more than we already did.

– Links to listen/subscribe on your favorite podcast provider found at end of the article –

Peyton on how being a TV junkie kickstarted her career:

“I was definitely a TV junkie as a kid. I feel like before streaming, there was just something so fun about catching something – I was kind of addicted to that feeling of catching something being on. I remember that’s kind of why I got into acting because I just watched so much TV and my mom said, ‘Stop watching it and go be on it.’ And I was like, ‘How do I do that? That’s a great idea. But how do I do that?’ And then she started taking me to auditions, because I watched so much TV right.”

“I definitely have to learn a lot on the spot, especially starting off on Disney on multi-cam sitcoms. That was just such a different style. I had done a couple movies before and a small part on a show as someone’s kid. But I was not prepared for the multi-cam sitcom world. That was just a whole change of pace.”

SCHOOL SPIRITS: Milo Manheim as Wally, Peyton List as Maddie and Nick Pugliese as Charley. Photo Cr: Ed Araquel/Paramount +

On the difference between on how Maddie is written compared to many teen roles:

“I liked how much she how much Maddie cared about her life, and how much she wanted to get back to it. I just feel like that at age there’s so much nihilism and not wanting to be there. A lot of the parts that I feel like I would audition for were just like, ‘I hate my life. I hate this world. I hate everything about it.’ You know? I thought this is a hot take teenage girl who cares about her mom and cares about her family and is really stepping up. I was like, ‘Man, Maddie’s a way better person than I was as a teenager. This is kind of something that I wouldn’t mind playing. Like, wow!’ I’m honored to get to play such a cool person. I just liked the person that that she is, but I didn’t think they would cast me as her.”

SCHOOL SPIRITS: Peyton List as Maddie. Photo Cr: Ed Araquel/Paramount +

On being left in the dark about the School Spirits mystery:

“They gave me the first two episodes and I just trusted Megan and Nate our creators and writers enough that I just didn’t need to know what else happened. I feel like Maddie didn’t know what happened and she was very confused, trying to figure out so I just thought, ‘All right.’ A lot of the other actors were harassing me about the ending. They were like, ‘Give us the ending, you have to know. How would you take the show without knowing the ending?’ And I was like, ‘I just kind of met with them and I liked them a lot. I hoped for the best.’ Looking back, I don’t know if I would do again. But I enjoyed that process so much.”

On who she would prefer to hand out with Tory or Maddie:

“I feel like I would like to hang out with both of them at the same time because I think they’d balance each other out. I think Tory would be tough to hang out with. I think I would choose Maddie over Tory because Maddie is a little more of a nerd and just likes going to the Comic Cons and likes horror cons and that sort of things. So I think she would bring into that whole world. But I feel like Tori, her only girlfriend really was Aisha and I just don’t feel like I’ve seen have a lot of girlfriends. I feel like it’d be tough. I’d have to be patient with her.” (This was followed up with a question about these characters fighting with a little twisted.)

Cobra Kai. (L to R) Tanner Buchanan as Robby Keene, Peyton List as Tory Nichols. Cr. Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix © 2021

Our sincere thanks to Peyton for hanging out on the TV Topics couch. We had an amazing time talking and would love to have her back again. Additional gratitude for taking the time to talk to my daughters and their friends who briefly hijacked our conversation to ask questions of their own. Peyton was a gem with them and made their days.

Check out all of her awesome work on School Spirits (I’m a big fan) streaming on Paramount+ as well as on Netflix’s Cobra Kai and many other shows – she’s been in a lot! Finally be sure to listen to

Subscribe to TV Topics on Spotify, Amazon Podcasts, Stitcher, Pandora, IHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Radio Public, Castbox, Google Podcasts. (Coming soon to Overcast, Pocket Cast, and more platforms.)

If you would like to be a guest on TV Topics, reach out to Steven Prusakowski.
The show is active 365 days a year. You can stop in for awards season, show premieres, or just because – and we will be open to follow-up visits in the coming months.


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Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.

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