‘Spinning Out’ sets the president for accurate mental health depiction in TV

New Netflix drama starring Kaya Scodelario and January Jones is being praised for it’s accurate depiction of mental health issues.

The show, which was released recently takes place in a town where many young people are trying to get to the olympics. Whether it’s for skiing, or Ice Skating, there is a competitive and high pressured nature that athletes face on a daily basis. Scodelario plays our protagonist, Katerina ‘Kat’ Baker, who is trying to make a comeback after having a dramatic fall during a competition that had severe consequences. Struggling with Bipolar disorder, like her Mother, Carol (played by January Jones) she is terrified of getting back on the ice and keeps popping her jumps. Finding a way to compete, she ends up pairing up with the arrogant and self indulged Justin who she tolerates; but soon they find a deeper understanding of each other, both on the ice and off the ice.

There are so many characters in this series that it almost comes across like a soap, but don’t be alarmed- as this is so well written that each character compliments the plot and it all ties together. Willow Shields (famous from the Hunger Games) plays Kat’s little sister, Serena, who struggles with both her mom and her sister having bipolar. Kat’s best friend, Marcus, becomes an essential character and love interest who the audience can’t help but route for. He has a storyline that revolves around race representation, another social issue that the writers have delivered really well- it’s not so in your face that it becomes a statement, but a subtle under tone that resolves the real life fears of having a different ethnicity in majority white towns.

British fans will recognise Scodelario from her brilliant depiction of mental health issues in the TV show ‘Skins’ where she played Effy Stonem, but she takes Kat’s disorder and makes it relatable and real- instead of a dramatic depiction we’re so used to seeing on TV.

During the ten episodes, we watch Kat grow and struggle, not only with ice skating, but with relationships, a part time job and family life. She is unpolished; a work in progress and due to her many injuries, we know how breakable she can be. But this is the beauty of the main character, and I think we need to see more characters like Kat on our screens. So often, we don’t see the main character making mistakes, testing the waters or being afraid. We don’t see vulnerability or resistance, we see a happy ending or a nemesis. Spinning Out is much more complex than most shows, but it’s all done subtly so we don’t miss a big moment, for it’s all little moments wrapped into one. The audience spins out with Kat, we are with her.

Mental Illness isn’t romanticised either, it’s treated with real consequences and awareness. So much so, Kaya Scodelario has praised charities on Twitter for helping her portray the role accurately.

Spinning Out is going to set the president for more shows with accurate mental health representation, and hopefully we’ll see a season 2 soon.

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