At the end of December, when I was reviewing the dozens of titles ready to launch on Netflix in January, I was writing about Spinning Out that it would be the syrup portion of the month, but that it could be something more (here all recommendations). And it really is. Below is what we liked (and what didn’t) for the ten-episode season available on the platform from the first day of 2020.
Spinning Out has the spotlight on Kaya Scodelario, whom the global public knows especially because of the Maze Runner franchise and the Crawl horror, but which became famous in native England as a teenager when it appeared in the excellent Skins series (responsible for launching career for Dev Patel and Jack O’Connell and Nicholas Hoult’s strengthening).
Now Scodelario as Kat Baker, a talented skater who recovers after a terrible fall that stops her Olympic dream. But Kat soon realizes that she still has a chance at competitive success if she enters the pair 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 you don’t miss the clichés and sometimes get stuck in soap operas, Spinning Out is worth an hour of your time, but be warned that this time could become a serious binging session. Although much of the story is based on Kat’s ascension on the ice ring with Justin, Spinning Out is more about 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 the interpretation of Scodelario (it is enough to take a look at the picture that illustrates this chronicle to see the intensity with which the actress is dedicated to the character) and how the British manage to show Kat’s complicated fight with the family, material problems, but also unrealistic expectations in a dangerous and extremely expensive sport, in which grace, elegance, and perfection of choreography and costumes often hide horrible sacrifices. Impressive is also January Jones, in the role of the condemnable, the impossible Carol, whose birth Kat cut off any chance at a skating career.
Spinning Out has been praised for the honesty, respect, and accuracy with which it 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 drugs that balance depressive and manic episodes, while making you feel like an incomplete person – with the wings cut off from the lithium equally saving and handicapping – is another theme of this created series by Samantha Stratton (Mr. Mercedes), and she has been participating in skating competitions for over a decade.
With all its pluses, Spinning Out is unbelievably annoying. For every compelling moment in which he explores the sacrifices of a sportsman’s life, toxic relationships or gigantic confidence and full synchronization without which skating in two is impossible, the series throws hysterical teens, love triangles (one of which came out like a hat in the penultimate episode) and much, much too much muttering silence (how good that “10 seconds before” button is). Spinning Out is definitely not for everyone, but once you invest a little sympathy in the characters you could go with them until the end without feeling a bit bad about it.