Within the first week of January about three different people told me I had to watch Netflix’s Spinning Out.
I usually do not enjoy sports-centered media, but this show was actually very good. I think I enjoyed it so much because it was not merely a story about ice skating. The show was not about petty drama between athletes over costumes or rankings or whatever. The story was centered around the struggles of overcoming mental illness in the face of love, friendship, dedication, and virtue.
Another huge aspect of the show that cannot be overlooked is the relationship between women in families, friendships, work environments, etc. How women confront, respond, and challenge one another in Spinning Out are major plot points.
My favorite aspect of the show was the character development. Many of the personalities of the characters were unexpected for me. In an effort for this review not to include spoilers, I will not say who the “good” and “bad” characters are, but by the end of the season I was surprised. The audience is forced to follow the characters through some of the hardest moments of their lives. These moments shaped the personalities of the various characters and contributed to their development.
I only have two real criticisms about Spinning Out. The first is the ambiguity of the characters’ ages. Jenn does admit that she opted not to attend college to ice skate, and we know Marcus deferred Stanford Medical School for two years. Other than those brief comments, until the second to last episode no one goes to school. Is Serena not in high school? There is a scene where she is doing her homework, but only one in a later episode. Audiences really have no idea how old Kat is, or Justin. Their parents support them, but are they not adults? Maybe this is a trend in sports culture that I am unaware of, but I was genuinely confused.
My other criticism is that the story line felt a bit too Black Swan for me. On the outside Spinning Out is the story of an aspiring athlete, raised by a toxic mother, who is trying to navigate her life despite challenges she faces because of her mental illness. She practices self-harm, is the vicim of manic episodes, and is obsessive. Trade ice skating for ballet and it’s almost the plot to Black Swan. In fact, in one of the later episodes, a skater is performing to Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” as Kat watches. All that being said, Spinning Out was not nearly as dark as Black Swan. It was much more positive.
Overall, I would recommend watching the show. It was worth the screen time and was exciting. Now, even though sports are involved, I do not think this is exactly a show for dudes. I do think women would prefer this show, mainly because there is a love story involved and one of the primary themes is the relationship between women.
I enjoyed it, and I hope you do, too!