What I thought about: Spinning Out

From the gashes in Justin’s leg and the crack in Kat’s skull, to the racism, loneliness, and crippling bipolar disorder, Spinning Out cuts deep. This is a rare example of a trailer failing to sell a show properly – I took a punt and loved it.

Kaya Scodelario is excellent in this, by the way.

What’s it about?
Kat Baker (Kaya Scodelario) lives (at first) with her younger sister, Serena (Willow Shields, of Hunger Games fame), and mother Carol. They’re a family of figure skaters – Carol having dropped out of the sport after having Kat a fairly young age. Kat’s about to take a test to be a skating coach, her dreams of making it to the Olympics as a figure skater were dashed since she cracked her head on the ice in a bad fall. She’s been too afraid to land a proper skating jump ever since, so coaching is her last shot.

Or is it? Well, no, that would be rather boring. Kat predictably fails the test, but is spotted by Dasha, a coach for the talented pair skater, Justin Davis. What follows is their incredibly turbulent journey to try to compete together as pair skaters – with Justin promising never to let Kat fall.

What do I like about it?
You get a cool insight into life as a figure skater. The show is full of little details, like the chatty, fiercely competitive mums who swap passive aggressive comments about how their kid is better than the others, and the determination of the skaters who get up at 5AM every day so they can arrive in time for the first session on the ice, every single day. Skating is, as you will come to learn, full of sacrifices.

There’s also a varied spread of characters – Justin is a rich kid who parties (a bit too much), Kat is harbouring a dark secret about her mental health, her best friend is nursing a hip injury but feeling pressured to continue skating, Serena battles loneliness despite being a successful junior skater, and her coach is coming out of a messy divorce. Whilst the plot for some of them is quite spotty, I still got incredibly invested in their lives both on, and off, the rink.

What do I not like about it?
The plot is choppy, especially towards the end, and character behaviour is sometimes off. Time-keeping is also non-existent, with weeks of time having flashed by in an instant without any cues besides a character casually dropping a line like ‘we’ve been doing this for weeks now!’.

But you know what? For better or for worse, for no tangible, objective, reason, Spinning Out is one of my favourite shows of the year. It’s hard to explain why, but it just is.

Worth a watch?
I certainly think so, unless you’re sure you have no interest in a drama set around figure skating.

By the way…

  • The show features numerous body doubles from the Canadian national skating team.
  • Although I’m sad to see it cancelled after one season, I do think it works well as a standalone series.