While the new year is here, and along with it comes a fresh new start and a ridding of the past, it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, especially when a streaming service takes down a favorite television series like “Friends,” or you binge a series only to find out it won’t be getting another season for years, like “The Witcher.” With their favorite shows unavailable, many TV addicts are forced to peruse the many streaming services they pay for (or let’s be honest, mooch off of family members) to find a new series to get invested in. Well, peruse no more! As a fellow Netflix aficionado, I have been stuck looking for something to binge after Season 2 of “You” and stumbled upon a Netflix gem of a series titled “Spinning Out.”
As the name might suggest, “Spinning Out” focuses on Kat Baker, a highly-skilled ice skater who is forced to decide between continuing her passion or giving it up after a severe injury from a fall on the ice. Kat gets a second chance when her coach suggests she try pair skating, and before she knows it she’s paired up with the bad boy of ice skating with hopes of skating in the Olympics someday.
The show features a mix of familiar actors and some fresh faces. Kaya Scodelario, who plays Kat, has been seen in several movies and television series like “Skins” and “The Maze Runner.” January Jones of “Mad Men” fame plays Carol Baker, Kat’s mother; and Willow Shields, who played Prim Everdeen in the “Hunger Games” trilogy, plays Serena Baker, Kat’s sister. “Spinning Out” allows for some unfamiliar actors and actresses to shine. Evan Roderick, who plays Justin Davis, Kat’s skating partner, and Amanda Zhou, who plays Kat’s best friend, Jenn Yu, both excel in their respective roles and add something truly special to the series.
While the series is primarily focused on ice skating, it does a great job at providing other story arcs to keep the viewer interested while also touching on important social issues. Viewers will enjoy and relate to the rise and fall of the friendship between Kat and Jenn and the dynamic between Kat and her skating partner, Justin. As mentioned previously, “Spinning Out” tackles topics that affect communities that are not always discussed in a television series.
One of the social issues that the show tackles is diversity and the struggles that come along with the prejudice toward minorities. While it is always great to have a diverse cast on a television series (which “Spinning Out” does, as the cast includes several black and Asian characters), it goes above and beyond by diving into race-related issues. Marcus, a black college friend of Kat, is wrongly blamed for stealing money from a patron at work until a fellow black employee steps in and corrects the situation; Marcus reveals that he has experienced discrimination in the past through the use of flashbacks.
“Spinning Out” portrays a diversity of sexualities, as the show has several gay and lesbian characters and, in similar fashion to the way it handles racial discrimination, the series talks about the reality of being LGBTQ+ through one of its characters. Dasha — Justin and Kat’s coach — confesses to Serena about having to choose between “the most beautiful girl” she’d ever seen or a chance at competing in the Olympics. Toward the end of the series, she sets out to find her long lost love on Facebook with the help of some of the skaters.
Mental health has been more widely discussed lately as many have spoken out about their struggles to break the stigma surrounding mental illness. “Spinning Out” highlights the truth of living with bipolar disorder as both Kat and her mother, Carol, battle with the disorder throughout the series. Both Kat and Carol have manic episodes during the show as they go on and off of their lithium, resulting in leaving jobs and damaging relationships with family and friends. The series also highlights the two getting help, with Carol checking herself into a rehab facility, and Kat seeking out advice and support through group therapy.
It is particularly emotional when Kat, who has managed to keep her bipolar disorder a secret from those around her, is forced to finally reveal what she has been struggling with after she has a manic episode at a party she throws. It is also difficult, yet eye opening, to see how both Kat and Carol’s bipolar disorder affects the way that they treat others and present themselves to the world. With Kat, her bipolar disorder has caused her to seem closed off and shut out from those who may cross paths with her, making it hard to form any kind of relationship. For Carol, her experience with bipolar disorder sometimes causes her to be brash and a bit rough around the edges.
If the series was not appealing enough to you already, maybe the fact that Johnny Weir and Jonathan Van Ness make appearances on the show will inspire you to give it a go. Yup, two-time Olympian Johnny Weir makes several appearances on the series as Gabriel Richardson, a member of another skating pair, and JVN, “Queer Eye” hair guy and ice skating enthusiast, makes a brief cameo as a choreographer.
“Spinning Out” is the perfect series to binge over the remainder of your winter break or as you ease back into the swing of school as it is short but sweet and quite enjoyable to watch. If you were a big fan of “Ice Princess” back in the day, but you’re looking for something a bit more grown up with some representation and diversity, you are sure to fall head over heels (or should I say skates) with one of Netflix’s latest original series.