A few days ago, I got bored watching old episodes of Intervention and decided to see what was on Netflix. I happened to notice a new show called Spinning Out. It’s about ice skating, a sport I have always loved to watch. Unfortunately, because I don’t get regular TV over here, I don’t get to watch a lot of live sports. That’s not a big problem most of the time, since I don’t really enjoy most sports. I just like the “girly” ones, like figure skating, gymnastics, and show jumping.
Since I can’t watch sports, I’m kind of a sucker for movies about the sports I like. Spinning Out looked like something that would appeal. It’s basically like a mash up of I,Tonya (a great movie, by the way), Ice Castles, and Cutting Edge, with a dash of 2020 era snark. The cast is hopelessly gorgeous, with 26 year old British actress Kaya Scodelario starring as Kat Baker, a beautiful former ladies single skater with bipolar disorder who had a devastating fall that has almost forced her out of the sport, until she’s talked into becoming a pairs partner to Justin Davis (played by Evan Roderick), an evident asshole who skates beautifully. Actually, I don’t think Justin’s an asshole. He’s just supposed to be one. I kind of like his character. He has a lot of snarky lines and Evan Roderick, as Justin, delivers them convincingly.
Kat and Justin will probably develop some kind of romance… although Kat is being pursued by her co-worker, a black skier and bartender named Marcus Holmes (played by Mitchell Edwards). So far, racism is touched on lightly. He and Kat definitely are supposed have some kind of flirtation going on, but I’m not especially convinced by it. And there’s so much other stuff in play that it seems kind of superfluous that a potential interracial relationship is also thrown in. I’ve got no issues whatsoever with interracial relationships, but I don’t see much on screen chemistry between Kat and Marcus. And I’m at the part in the series at which it looks like they aren’t going to be together, anyway… but maybe the writers will surprise me.
Complicating matters is Kat’s beautiful bipolar mom, Carol Baker (played by January Jones), a former skater who is demanding, annoying, and abusive. Carol interferes with Kat’s plans and sabotages her desires to be independent (and at her age, she really should be, right?). Kat has an enchantingly lovely younger sister, Serena, (played by Willow Shields), also a figure skater who jumps like a jumping bean, but isn’t as mesmerizing to watch as Kat is. Carol uses Serena, who evidently isn’t bipolar, to try to control Kat. Carol also dates Serena’s coach, the super cute Brit Mitch Saunders (played by Will Kemp). I might keep watching just because he’s adorable.
Justin’s father is wealthy and demanding. His stepmother is warm and kind. Justin’s and Kat’s coach is Russian and a little loopy. Kat’s best friend, Jenn Yu (played by Amanda Zhou) is quirky and funny… and it’s all set in the fictional resort town of Sun Valley, someplace out west, although it was filmed in Toronto, Ontario and at Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Ontario. Skating doubles are mostly Canadians. So far, I think they’ve done a great job of making the doubles look very much like the actors.
So… what do I think of the series so far? I’m about halfway through. It’s strangely compulsive viewing. I wasn’t very impressed by the first episode, but I decided to keep watching because I have nothing better to do and I might as well use my Netflix subscription. As I watched a couple more episodes, I was a bit more interested… although– and this is going to shock some people– there is one thing about Spinning Out that I don’t like very much. That is… there’s a whole lot of cussing.
I’m not surprised there’s so much cussing on this show. I watched 13 Reasons Why a couple of years ago. In fact, I resubscribed to Netflix because I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about. I didn’t like 13 Reasons Why for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones that I can remember was the gratuitous amount of swearing throughout the series.
I don’t mind and am definitely not offended by cussing. God knows, I do plenty of it myself. A well used cuss word can be quite effective in any communication. However, when every other word is the word “fuck”, it becomes boring, repetitive, and kind of stupid. I understand Kat Baker yelling “Fuck!” when her car breaks down, but is there any reason why incarnations of the f-word need to be used in place of other adjectives? Sometimes, the cussing is just unnecessary and seems to come down to lazy writing.
And while I enjoyed all of the movies this show seems to have been cobbled from, I do think a lot of it is kind of hackneyed and stale. If a blind figure skater shows up in a future season, I know I’ll quit watching… unless I want to turn it into a drinking game (ie; drink every time a figure skating cliche occurs— ETA- sure enough blindness is in the mix). Ditto to all the drinking… do athletes headed for the Olympics really drink that much and have so much sex? I guess if they showed realistic elite athletic training, it would make for a boring show.
Also, I think there was a misstep in casting. January Jones is not really old enough or mature looking enough to be the mother of the actresses who play her daughters. Kaya Scodelario doesn’t look young enough to be her daughter, so I have a heard time suspending disbelief when it comes to their scenes. Sarah Wright Olsen plays Justin’s stepmother, Mandy Davis, but every time I see her, I think of Jessica Simpson. I mean, she can definitely pull off the trophy wife look, although her on screen husband, James Davis (played by David James Elliott) is about 23 years older than she is. It’s kind of icky.
Still, even though I have a few complaints about this series, I’ll probably watch the rest of season 1. Why? Because I might as well. Some of it is kind of entertaining, even if it is kind of ripped off from other works. Some of the lines are witty. I especially enjoy Dasha, the Russian coach, played by Russian actress Svetlana Efremova. Her hair alone is intriguing. It looks kind of like a bad wig, although I’m not sure it actually is. And I’ll be interested in seeing if they do more with the bipolar angle. So far, I haven’t seen much that indicates the bipolar angle is going to be realistically put into play… but I still have a few episodes to go. Something tells me, it’s not going to be done well, but maybe the writers will surprise me.
Maybe I’ll update or write a sequel for this post. Maybe I won’t. We’ll see if I still care enough once I’ve finished the season.