At the end of December, as I was reviewing dozens of Netflix-ready titles in January, I was writing about Spinning Out that it would be the syrup portion of the month, but that it could be a little more than that. And it really is. Below is what we liked (and what we didn’t) about the ten-episode season available on the platform from the first day of 2020.
Spinning Out focuses on Kaya Scodelario, who is best known to the global public for her Maze Runner franchise and Crawl horror, but who became famous in her native England in her teens when she appeared in the excellent series Skins (responsible for the release of career and for Dev Patel and Jack O’Connell and the consolidation of that of Nicholas Hoult).
Now Scodelario is Kat Baker, a talented skater who is recovering from a terrible fall that puts an end to her Olympic dream. But Kat soon realizes that she has another chance at competitive success if she enters the doubles competitions with Justin (Evan Roderick). What Justin doesn’t know is that his partner suffers from bipolar disorder, a mental illness inherited from her abusive mother, Carol (January Jones), with whom she has a more than difficult relationship.
Even if it doesn’t lack clichés and sometimes stumbles into soap opera traps, Spinning Out is worth at least an hour of your time, but we warn you that this hour could become a serious binging session. Although much of the story is based on Kat’s ascent to the ice rink with Justin, Spinning Out is more about the family and how difficult it is for an athlete to have a normal life, even without mental illness.
A big plus of the story is undoubtedly Scodelario’s interpretation and how the British woman manages to show Kat’s complicated struggle with family, material problems, but also unrealistic expectations in a dangerous and extremely expensive sport, in which grace, elegance and perfection choreographies and costumes often hide terrible sacrifices. Impressive is January Jones, in the role of the condemnable, the impossible Carol, whose birth of Kat cut off any chance at a career in skating.
Spinning Out has been praised for the honesty, respect and accuracy with which he explores bipolar disorder, showing the superhuman control needed to have a relatively normal life. How to avoid the pitfalls of the temptation to give up medications that balance depressive and manic episodes while making you feel like an incomplete person – with both lithium-cut wings savior and handicap – is another theme of this series created by Samantha Stratton (Mr. Mercedes), and she has been participating in skating competitions for over a decade.
With all its pluses, Spinning Out is annoyingly unmatched. For every compelling moment in which he explores the sacrifices of athletic life, toxic relationships or gigantic trust and full synchronization without which skating in two is impossible, the series throws teenage hysterics, love triangles (one of which pulled like a bunny out of a hat in the penultimate episode) and far, far too many gloomy silences (good thing there is that “10 seconds ahead” button). Spinning Out is definitely not for everyone, but once you invest a little sympathy in the characters you could accompany them to the end without feeling a little sorry for it.