Netflix’s 'Spinning Out': Skating show that takes its sport and sportspeople very seriously

The first season, which has ten episodes, is layered with each character, even those of the coaches’, getting their own arcs

I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about figure skating before I started tuning into Netflix’s Spinning Out. I hadn’t watched beyond a dozen videos on YouTube until I binged on the show. Not that I’ve been completely inspired to take to the ice now; I broke my ankle once while running down the stairs, so, it’s definitely hard for me to imagine myself prancing around in those deadly skates. And the takeaways don’t involve the sport per se, as it’s got more to do with being honest and accepting the truth. Those traits could have been added anywhere and it’d have probably felt the same, but when they come out of conversations that take place in the rinks, hospitals, and luxurious lodges, they become doubly interesting. And when you glance at those snowy mountains, where most of the exterior scenes have been filmed, it’s sure to take you to another world.

Kat (Kaya Scodelario) and Serena (Willow Shields) are sisters, who sometimes can’t stand each other, but when they’re not yelling, they’re thick as thieves. It’s not unusual for familial relationships to have so many up-and-down swings in a span of 24 hours. You may have to remember that the bond they share with their mother, Carol (January Jones), is also fried in a similar pan. You might call it a crazy family, since outsiders refer to the three of them as such in many places. However, they’ve their own sweet-and-sour reasons to go berserk. Carol and Kat both suffer from bipolar disorder and their mental health issues are supposed to be secrets, for they live in a world of tough competition.

The first season, which has ten episodes, is layered with each character, even those of the coaches’, getting their own arcs. Their screen time isn’t divided equally, as this isn’t an ensemble in those terms. But they’re well-rounded and that’s what makes this show appear pristine in its form. When a Russian coach recalls how she had to let go of the woman she was truly in love with, as she had to choose between owning her sexuality and focusing on the Olympics in the decades that had no big rainbow flags, you sense a kind of sadness wherein words won’t be able to do justice. If the series had delved into it for a bit longer, it would have, perhaps, become a companion piece to Jill Soloway’s Transparent. Yet, with a handful of dialogues and scenes, it makes a grand statement.

Netflix’s 'Spinning Out': Skating show that takes its sport and sportspeople very seriously

Samantha Stratton, creator of Spinning Out, also shakes up the rich-boy-bad-attitude template to give us a young guy who’s not a man-child at heart. Justin (Evan Roderick) is an uncomplicated and a simple-to-understand fellow who misses his mother every now and then. Had this been a straightforward romantic comedy like To All the Boys I've Loved Before, his smiling face would have gently been made fun of. Along with Kat, his skating and romantic partner, his journey, too, seems fascinating. He goes from throwing flirtatious looks at women he meets in parties to saying, “I love you,” (a huge three-word sentence that he seldom uses) and getting hurt when he doesn’t get what he wants. And there’s never a place where he acts like he’s the boss, even though he actually is.

We get a couple of lines that talk about his love for skating, but it’s not a moment that’s written in capital letters, like the one Kat says, “Skating is like breathing… and if I stopped, it’d feel like drowning.” Do spoiled brats care about their careers as much as the common, middle-class folks? Well, if Justin becomes an inspiration for the moneyed Generation Z kids, they might finally learn to do something with their lives. Or is he just a drop in the ocean? Anyway, Spinning Out doesn’t roll out characters that have issues (mental health, trust, fear, dependency) just for the sake of being “woke”. It believes in being a show that takes its sport and sportspeople very seriously.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 10:32:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/netflixs-spinning-out-skating-show-that-takes-its-sport-and-sportspeople-very-seriously/article30632854.ece

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