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Breaking the Stigma: How "Spinning Out" Shines a Light on Mental Illness in Sports

By Harper Lee on January 4, 2023
Breaking the Stigma: How "Spinning Out" Shines a Light on Mental Illness in Sports

It's a sad reality in the world of television that not every show gets to see a second season, no matter how much its audience may love it. Such is the case with Spinning Out, a heart-wrenching and beautifully crafted drama series about a young ice skater struggling with bipolar disorder.

But just because it didn't get the green light for a sophomore season on Netflix doesn't mean it's not worth watching - in fact, it's a show that should be at the top of everyone's binge-watch list.

The High-Stakes World of Ice Skating

At the center of Spinning Out is Katarina Baker, a 21-year-old aspiring ice skater who is trying to make a comeback after a devastating fall on the ice left her with a cracked skull and a newfound fear of getting injured again. But as she works to establish herself as a coach, she receives an offer from Justin Davis, an Olympic-bound skater, to be his pairs partner.

Meanwhile, Kat's younger sister Serena is excelling under the guidance of their new coach, Mitch Saunders. But their mother Carol, who never got the chance to pursue her own skating career due to an unexpected pregnancy, becomes overly obsessive in pushing Serena to succeed.

But the high-stress world of figure skating is only part of the story. Both Kat and Carol struggle with bipolar disorder, and it's their mismanagement of their conditions that often drives the plot forward and creates drama. Add to that the usual mix of friendships, relationships, and familial issues that plague any good teen drama, and you have the recipe for Spinning Out.

A Raw and Realistic Portrayal of Mental Illness

One of the standout aspects of Spinning Out is its portrayal of mental illness. In a particularly poignant scene, Mitch speaks with Carol about how mental illness is becoming less stigmatized in the sports world, to which Carol replies that this isn't the case in ice skating. She points out that in this sport, all participants are expected to be perfect all the time in every way.

This conversation perfectly encapsulates the reason why creator Samantha Stratton decided to tackle the subject of mental illness in the world of ice skating - to bring attention to an issue that is often swept under the rug. But despite the central role that mental illness plays in the show, it never feels like it's glamorizing bipolar disorder or downplaying its severity.

As someone with a personal connection to the disorder, I can say that Spinning Out does an excellent job of accurately portraying the ways in which it can affect a person - without implying that it's the same for everyone.

A Heartfelt and Entertaining Watch

Despite its short run, Spinning Out is a show that will stay with you long after the credits roll on the final episode. It's a heartfelt and enjoyable watch, with likable characters and compelling story arcs. The fact that it tackles such an important and often overlooked subject only adds to its appeal. So don't let its one-season status deter you - Spinning Out is a series that is well worth the watch.

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