‘Spinning Out’ Will Change the Way You Think About U.S. Figure Skating

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Published February 19, 2020
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Netflix announced that "Spinning Out" will not be renewed for a second season. Photo courtesy of Netflix

Somebody finally made a show about figure skating that skaters can watch without cringing at inaccuracies. “Spinning Out” is the figure skating drama we never knew we needed.

The pilot episode starts by introducing us to Kat Baker, played by Kaya Scodelario, as an Olympic-track figure skater struggling to get back on the ice after a fall that put her in the hospital. It isn’t long before she finds herself entering the world of pairs skating with Justin Davis, played by Evan Roderick. Of course, an inevitable romance buds between the two skating partners as the show progresses.

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The actors in “Spinning Out” had skating doubles perform difficult jumps and lifts on camera. Photo courtesy of Netflix

Directed by Samantha Stratton, “Spinning Out” reveals the athleticism of figure skating along with the United States Figure Skating Association’s (USFSA) history in discriminating against mental health, body image and LGBTQ+ identity. Without over-dramatizing, the show included bipolar disorder, teen pregnancy, being an LGBTQ+ athlete and sexual assault.

Unlike figure skating movies and TV shows of the past, this show gets everything right about the delicate yet daunting sport. USFSA makes all the rules in regard to skating levels, programs, competitions and coaching. While many shows surrounding female athletes emphasize beauty and body image, “Spinning Out” emphasizes the cutthroat aspect of this sport.

Scodelario’s stellar performance made it easy to fall in love with Kat and feel every emotion she was experiencing both on-and-off the ice. The characters felt real, raw and emotional. There was never a moment where I sat there and thought, “this could never happen.”

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Kat Baker and Justin Davis agree to partner up and compete as a team for pairs. Photo courtesy of Netflix

Coming from a figure skater’s perspective, the skating skills in this show were exceptional. Each actor had one or more skating doubles that did an excellent job portraying competitive figure skating on the ice with no awkward cutaways required.

The great part about “Spinning Out” was that a lot of the actors learned how to skate specifically for their roles. They may not have been doing any triple twists on the spot, but they were completing basic skating skills and learning how to perform complicated lifts. This in part was thanks to Johnny Weir, an Olympic skater and commentator who helped train some of the skaters, and made an appearance in the show himself.

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Scodelario and Roderick turn over a stellar performance as skating partners in “Spinning Out.” Photo courtesy of Netflix.

The first season took the viewer through a rollercoaster of emotions as we witnessed the best and worst sides of each character. Stratton and the writers deserve a pat on the back for deciding to create a show that uncovers the skeletons hiding in USFSA’s closet.

It is disappointing to find that “Spinning Out” will not be renewed for a second season. Unfortunately, the writers seemed to be blindsided by Netflix’s decision to cancel as they had already started writing season two and left season one on a cliffhanger.

“Spinning Out” is the first show that accurately depicts U.S. figure skating and the pressure skaters face during competition season and in Olympic training. I have my fingers crossed that another network will see the potential in this show and pick it back up for season two.

“Spinning Out” receives a rating of nine out of 10.

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