Netflix’s ‘Spinning Out’ looks at the stigma of mental illness in ice skating – The Ticker
The series follows 21-year-old Katarina “Kat” Baker, a hopeful skater trying to recover from a bad fall on the ice that split her skull open and left her terrified of re-injury.
As she tries to embark on a career as an ice skating coach, she receives an offer from Olympic skater Justin Davis, son of the owner of the Idaho ski lodge where Kat and Justin skate, to be her new couple partner. .
As Kat embarks on this new career path, her younger sister, Serena, excels under her new coach, Mitch Saunders.
Their mother, Carol, obsessively pushes Serena through her training, hoping the 16-year-old can have the skating career that Carol herself never had because she got pregnant with Kat.
However, while the world of high-stakes figure skating is quite hectic, the story is even more turbulent as Kat and Carol struggle with bipolar disorder. In many cases, it’s actually their troubles – or rather their mishandling of their troubles – that drives the plot forward and creates drama.
Add to this already dramatic story, a drama of friendships, new relationships, broken hearts, family issues, and the fear of a career in a competitive and very public field, and it’s essentially “Spinning Out.”
Honestly, the show isn’t much different from any other teen drama centered around ice skating, other than its dealing with mental health issues.
There’s one particular scene where Mitch even talks to Carol about how mental illness is becoming less stigmatized in the world of sports, to which Carol responds that it’s not in ice skating. She says it’s a sport in which all participants are expected to be perfect in every way.
This specific conversation really shows what we can assume to be why series creator Samantha Stratton decided to do a show about mental illness in the world of ice skating.
She probably did it to bring to light an issue that normally gets swept under the rug in this particular sport.
Despite the large role mental illness plays in the show, it never feels like it glorifies bipolar disorder and the show doesn’t tone it down. As someone who has a close relative with the disease, I felt like the show gave a relatively accurate portrait of how bipolar could affect a person – not to say it’s that particular way for everyone.
It’s also a fun and enjoyable watch just for its plot and characters, even if the relevance of its subject matter isn’t considered. It’s a heartfelt show with really likable characters and good story arcs and definitely worth watching.