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Netflix’s ‘Spinning Out’ is ‘I, Tonya’ Meets ‘The Cutting Edge’

By Kate Hudson | TV | January 12, 2020 |

By Kate Hudson | TV | January 12, 2020 |


I have a theory that women (and some men) who were between the ages of about 6 and 14 during the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan attack in 1994 have a deep interest in figure skating that exists to this day, due largely in part to the amount of attention the entire sport received after the attack. I mean, it might be just me, but dammit if I don’t love to watch people glide across the ice. So when I saw that Netflix had a new figure skating show, I was all over it.

Enter Spinning Out. Starring Kaya Scodelario, January Jones, a bunch of people you will recognize from other shows, and with an assist from occasional guest star Johnny Weir (!!) the show focuses on a figure skating family in Idaho going through a tough transition. After elite singles skater Kat Baker (Scodelario) fell and hit her head in competition a year prior, her mother’s (Jones) attention and limited financial resources are now focused on her little sister, Serena, who while not as talented as Kat, is still a pretty damn good singles skater. Kat is now forced to decide whether she wants to continue on in the figure skating world as a partner to rich party boy Justin in the pairs division or drop out of it entirely. As if there isn’t enough going on in her life, she does this all the while managing her bipolar disorder, the self-harm she occasionally inflicts on herself, and dealing with her mother’s similar mental health struggles.

Look, the only thing this show needs to tick all the boxes for an ice skating movie is to have a blind figure skater so we can have some Ice Castles thrown in there for good measure, because we’ve already got The Cutting Edge (unlikely duo become pairs partners) and I, Tonya (troubled skater struggles with her mental health and her mother.) Writing this out, it occurs to me that we need more figure skating movies, as there’s not a lot to pull from. Get on that, Hollywood!

Spinning Out is a solid soap opera on the ice, with compelling characters, and enough to keep your attention if you are at least mildly interested in figure skating—although it hits the same notes that anyone who watches any amount of teen soaps would expect. There’s nothing earth-shattering going on, but you know what? I’ve missed January Jones as a bitchy mom, so it was enough to keep me entertained.

The supporting cast is decent, especially Kat’s friend Jenn (Amanda Zhou), who has always lived in her shadow professionally and personally and struggles to break out from that dynamic with some devastating consequences. It will drive you crazy trying to figure out where you’ve seen some of the more familiar supporting cast members before, because they’ve been around. Yes, that is David James Elliott as Justin’s dad, you know him from your parent’s favorite show, JAG. You know Justin’s stepmom (Sarah Wright) because she played Millicent “Milly” Gergich on Parks and Rec. Finally, are you ready to feel old? Serena (Willow Shields) was Prim in the Hunger Games movies.

Is Spinning Out going to become your favorite show? I don’t know, maybe? Chances are probably not.

Will you regret watching it? Chances are probably not, it’s decent.

If you like figure skating will you enjoy it because there is enough actual figure skating to keep you coming back for more? Chances are…yes. I mean, Johnny Weir is in this, although he doesn’t skate as much as one would hope. The routines are good, the costumes are pretty, and there’s enough jumps and spins to keep you entertained.

Spinning Out is a good enough option to put on if you don’t know what else to watch and want to see what January Jones is up to lately. You probably won’t regret it, but also, you probably won’t remember much about this show one week after you finished watching it. That’s OK. Not everything needs to be prestige TV.

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Kate is a staff contributor. You can follow her on Twitter.

Header Image Source: Netflix