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Netflix Review: ‘Spinning Out’ Disappoints After Promising Start

January 1, 2020
4 min read
Spinning out

Spinning Out’ starts off with a scintillating opening theme that highlights the journey of the protagonist as a figure-skater. With what follows, as one would expect, it comes off as a typical yet intriguing female-centric sports drama that sheds light on the trials and tribulations of ice-skaters who struggle to achieve their feats of athleticism. From eating disorders to life-altering injuries that paralyze the athletes from achieving what they aspire to be, the show takes you through all the pitfalls that have them scrambling to survive in the unforgiving world of their sport.

The show also focuses on the dynamics of dysfunctional families and the devastating role that mental illnesses can play in ruining relationships. The show definitely appears quite nuanced and compelling in the first few episodes. However, what follows is just a confused narrative that forcefully includes an underdeveloped romance and unnecessary twists, that are not propulsive enough to make you want to wait for another season.

Spinning Out Season 1 Recap

The show revolves around Kat (Kaya Scodelario from ‘Skins’ UK), whose promising figure skating career is shattered after she ends up hurting herself after a brutal fall during one of her performances. The PTSD that follows after this injury, not only disables her from doing well at her sport but also ripples into bigger consequences that impair her relationship with her bipolar mother, and sister. While her mother continues to relive the failures of her past through her daughters, Kat struggles to make something out of her life as she only knows how to skate. This is when a rich charming young man named Justin asks her if she would like to be his partner for paired figure skating. Although she’s very reluctant at first, she does eventually give in and joins him.

Following this, the show shifts its narrative primarily between three storylines that reflect on Kat, her mother, and her sister. While Kat’s sister, Serena (Willow Shields), is a bold skater who shows immense energy in all of her performances, she seemingly lacks Kat’s artistic forte. Meanwhile, Kat’s mother, Carol (January Jones), struggles to stay afloat as she’s constantly weighed down by her bipolar disorder. Eventually, though the entire world seems to be against them, all three of them somehow braid their lives together and remind themselves that as imperfect as they may be, they’re still a family.

Spinning Out Season 1 Review

Initially, ‘Spinning Out’ sticks to the traditional arc of every underdog sports film: artistic jealousy, toxic rivalry and work of art being mirrored into the lives of those who are trying to master it. All of this is subtly foreshadowed with some addictive family drama and coming-of-age hijinks that make it quite compelling. However, somewhere along the way, as it tries to introduce way too many characters in its bloated runtime, it gets lost between all the narratives of its sub-plots. Case in point; the show tried to touch upon racism and queer relationships but fails to make these impactful in any way.

Speaking of the characters, they’re diverse and have been written in a way that they intentionally defy the clichéd archetypes of the genre. All of them have been richly drawn with relevant backstories and believable imperfections, which make you stick around for more of it. Kat’s wavering mania brings in some much-needed gritty twists to the show, however, more than that, its Jenny’s character that seems to have a far more intrepid storyline in the first half of the series. How she struggles with her injuries and the pressure of her family proves to be really engaging and relatable.

What’s truly surprising about the first season of the show is that it does not end with a bravura figure skating performance by the two leads. It, instead, brings all of its subplots in full circle and tries to create a combination of cognitive establishments that together lead to the catharsis of each of its characters. This, however, falls flat because it’s bolstered with too many things at once and fails to bring in the visceral thrill that one would expect from a sports drama. Overall, ‘Spinning Out’ is just an average drama series that does shine when it predominantly talks about mental health issues and the pressure that is enforced on teenagers, but unfortunately, it does this in a rather uninspiring fashion.

Read More: Where Was Spinning Out Filmed?

Rating: 2.5/5

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