Spinning out…

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.

Reality TV

This is an intervention…

Yesterday, I thought I might watch a movie or something. I like to watch old films from the 70s and 80s. I find them oddly comforting. The last time I watched TV, I watched a Canadian cop show called Under Arrest on Netflix. I ended up watching a couple more episodes of that, even though I had seen them before. Then I noticed that Netflix has Intervention available.

Intervention was a show that used to air on A&E. It was on for some time, and I went through a time of watching it a lot. I’m not sure what attracted me to that show, since it’s frequently very depressing. You see these young, often beautiful, talented, beloved people in the throes of horrible addictions of any stripe. The addictions are usually deadly or are going to lead to ruin, and if the addict doesn’t get help, he or she is destined for an early death. Although Intervention episodes often end with the target going to a treatment program, a lot of them quit treatment or relapse. Quite a few people who were on Intervention have died.

Last night I was watching episodes from 2008. Looking at my iTunes collection, I see that I could have watched them on Apple TV, since I purchased the episodes I watched last night when we lived in Germany the first time. I also notice, now that I’m looking at my library, that German Netflix has omitted a few episodes. No matter, though, because almost all of them are downers. It’s just that some people have more compelling stories than others.

I watched the episode about a woman named Brittany who was born five years after her sister was abducted, raped, and murdered. Brittany’s sister, Terri Sharee Jones, was apparently my age. She was just nine years old when her killer took her from her bedroom while she was sleeping. Naturally, her parents were appalled and devastated by the crime, and Brittany’s mother, Diane, apparently blamed herself. Baby Brittany, born in 1986, gave Diane a new lease on life… but the whole time she was growing up, people compared her to her dead sister and acted as if Terri had been reincarnated through her. Then, one of Brittany’s father’s friends molested her. It seems that sexual abuse and death of a sibling often lead a person into the hell of addiction, and Brittany got a double helping of that.

Brittany became addicted to Dilaudid. Her mother and grandmother were supporting her habit, and Brittany, who had been such a beautiful, happy, talented child, fell into prostitution. But she did agree to go to treatment, at least, even if she didn’t stay the course.

I was curious about Brittany after I finished watching. I went Googling, and found that Brittany was arrested a couple of times and looked absolutely horrible in her mug shots. And then, in September of this year, she finally died. Her obituary was very sad. I noticed that besides her sister, Terri, Brittany was predeceased by another sister, Tracy, was just 44 years old when she died, and her father, who had seemed so loving on the show. I don’t know why Brittany died at just 33 years old, but I could see by her mug shots that she’d had a tough go of it. I can’t even imagine the grief her mother deals with having lost three out of her four daughters.

I watched another episode about a woman named Nicole who had an eating disorder called dysphagia that caused her to use a feeding tube for many years. She was unable to swallow, so she would constantly spit into cups… saliva and chewed up food, mostly. Then I was reminded of how, back when I was writing content for a few content mills, I wrote an article about Oral Expulsion Syndrome (OES), otherwise known as “chew and spit”. I first heard of OES in the 80s. It was a very obscure disorder, and I want to say I read about some celebrity that suffered from it. Years later, when I needed a fresh topic to write about for a freelance project, I wrote about OES.

I sold the article to Associated Content, which included passages within it about Dolly Parton, who had written about it as a diet technique in her book, My Life and Other Unfinished Business. Dolly had promoted the idea as if it wasn’t dangerous. She wrote that a lot of celebrities keep thin that way, even though it actually is a harmful habit. I happened to read Dolly’s book by chance. Back when Bill and I were broke, I used to buy books at the thrift shop on Fort Belvoir. I’d read and review them on, and sometimes make money if the reviews were popular. Over about eleven years, I made roughly $12,000 writing there, which isn’t bad when you consider that a lot of my reviews were about books, travel, or music (not typically well paying specialties). I probably paid a quarter for Dolly’s hardcover book and made many times that using it as a resource for writing projects, including my article about OES.

Well… I have found that article about OES floating around on the Internet, although it’s no longer attributed to me. There’s not much I can do about it, since I did sell the rights to it (for not enough money, apparently). I guess now, I’m just amused by it, since back when I wrote the article, I could barely find any information about Oral Expulsion Syndrome or its other names. Now, if you Google Oral Expulsion Syndrome (also called Rumination Syndrome), you will find a lot of references to it. I guess I hadn’t imagined that obscure article from the 80s, after all. Here’s another Web site that uses hacked up bits of my writing about Dolly and her OES habit.

I have to be careful not to overdose on Intervention, though, because sometimes the stories on that show make me want to write/vent, and that gets me in trouble. One episode I watched in 2010, when it was new, and several years later, was about a woman named Jackie. She lived in North Carolina and had been married to a doctor. She had a beautiful daughter and was well off financially. But then she became an alcoholic and got a divorce. I’ve seen that episode twice, and after both viewings, I felt compelled to write about it. I was absolutely disgusted by the way Jackie’s family treated her. She was a very sick woman and, it was plain to me, that most of the people in her family were also sick. But they treated her horribly. I was particularly horrified by the heartless way Jackie’s sister and daughter treated her. So I wrote an angry rant about it…

After some time, I got a comment from the mother of the daughter’s boyfriend, who was angry that I was writing about Jackie’s daughter. She suggested that I “lock down” my blog and that I had gotten the girl all wrong. Ultimately, I deleted the original post and rewrote it, slightly softening my stance… but ONLY because Jackie’s daughter was a minor when the show was taped, probably had no choice in being on the show, the hour was obviously edited for entertainment purposes, and she was clearly manipulated by her aunt. Above all, I changed the article because when it comes right down to it, she lost her mother, and that’s a tragedy. It didn’t change how I felt about the family or the girl’s behavior. She’s now a grown woman and, I hope, less selfish and callous than she appeared to be on Intervention.

Anyway… last night, I had originally planned to watch something less intense than Intervention is, but you know what they say about good intentions. I’ll probably watch a few more episodes today, and maybe do some shopping for the holidays and planning for our big trip to France. I joined The Fork yesterday, which is a Trip Advisor owned reservation service that appears to be popular in France. I kind of hesitate to use it, though, because it gets bad reviews. Also, I don’t know when we’re going to get to Beaune. I just hope we can find something there… although I guess there’s always the Carrefour.