Disney Channel’s “Spin” Makes Culture Clash a Thing of the Past

The network’s first TV movie to feature an Indian American lead says that it’s OK to be unapologetically cool.

Avantika Vandanapu in Disney Channel's "Spin" (Disney Channel)
Avantika Vandanapu in Disney Channel's "Spin" (Disney Channel)

Trisha Gopal

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August 14, 2021

If you were a Brown kid with an accent attending middle school in suburban Wisconsin, well, that just added some extra stuff to make you really stick out. Everything I lived and everything I saw — from Bend It Like Beckham to Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham — made me believe that my Indian identity was always going to be at odds with my American one. Everything felt like an awkward culture clash. My bootleg Converse hightops I picked up from Fashion Street one summer in Mumbai were embarrassing. The days I went to school with hair smelling like Dabur amla oil were embarrassing. The pieced together “lehenga” I wore for sixth grade school picture day, complete with a 10-pound gold tulle skirt from Ross Dress for Less, was embarrassing.

So when I watched Disney’s latest original movie Spin — the first to feature an Indian American girl as the lead, and one where teenagers seem to suffer no embarrassment whatsoever — I felt a flood of conflicting emotions.

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