Netflix's 'Spinning Out' Tackles The Generational Curse Of Mental Health Struggles

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

First, we were given Virgin River to warm our cold hearts with small town comfort while also opening a window inside the broken heart and the struggling mind of the bereaved. Now, Netflix presents us with its new Ice Princess meets I, Tonya series Spinning Out, proving that 2020 is the year to normalize the entire spectrum of mental health struggles — not just depression and anxiety.

Centered in a skating rink and ski lodge in Sun Valley, Idaho, this melodrama follows a skating family as they navigate the world of competitive ice skating, while also learning how to live with the many hurdles and obstacles that comes with a hereditary mental health disorder like bipolar disorder.

While having a relative with bipolar doesn’t necessarily mean that someone down the line will inherit it, researchers have concluded that genetic components make up 60-80% of what causes this disorder. For two main characters in the show, this statistic is reality.

From the get-go in Spinning Off’s first season, we see former ice skater and mom Carol Baker (Love Actually’s January Jones) battling her many manic “episodes” after denying herself medication. She wishes more than anything her oldest daughter, Kat (Kaya Scodelario) didn’t “inherit her brain,” but she also knows that we can’t control our genes. Friction builds between the mother and daughter until one, or both, of them explodes.

After already having been through a traumatic fall on the ice, which ultimately led to a brain injury and what we can suspect is PTSD, this series lets us inside the mind of Kat as she tries like hell to hide her family’s mental health history. Plenty of folks are applauding the show and asking for Season 2.

But not everyone shares these feelings, and it can be triggering for folks with a family history of mental health issues.

In fact, Scodelario, who plays Kat in the show, acknowledged in a post on Instagram that the series may be triggering for some people.

Bottom line: it’s complicated.

For so many folks taking medication to maintain their mental health, half the battle is treating the disorder by physically putting a damn pill into your mouth — me being one of these people. Open a bottle, grab the dose prescribed, pop the pill(s) into your mouth, and swallow. Why does it all sound so simple for us when it’s just… not?

My own mother is one of the lucky ones. She’s a person who’s never experienced mental health struggles due to a chemical imbalance. Meanwhile, there’s me… someone who has inherited my maternal grandmother’s mental health disorders. This generational curse skipped my mother and passed the buck to me.

Even though I was raised by a wonderful mother, she fails to understand what having a brain like mine (or my grandmother’s) can feel like, but with representation in shows like Spinning Out, we can begin to normalize the uncontrollable aspects of mental health disorders. Because though we may be built a bit different in the way our brain processes things, our life is not over.

As this Netflix show proves, even with a brain that doesn’t work “right” on its own, we are still capable of great and mighty things other than repetitively “spinning out.”

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