Figure skating drama ‘Spinning Out’ tackles mental health issues
Viewers who were obsessed with “Skins” in the 2000s will be delighted to see Kaya Scodelario lighting up screens with her simmering edge in Netflix’s new series “Spinning Out.”
Scodelario plays Kat, a gifted figure skater who finds herself struggling to take risks on the ice after she had a nearly fatal accident on the ice. Ice skating is Kat’s entire life, she’s the daughter of a would-be Olympic hopeful and her younger sister is also a talented skater. After failing her coaching test, Kat is determined to hang up her skates for good, when she’s approached about trying out pair skating with the rink owner’s son.
As if trying to move on from a traumatic sports injury isn’t enough, Kat also tries to manage her mother’s bipolar disorder and shield her sister from the worst of her mother’s episodes while also treating her own bipolar symptoms. Kat and her mother Carol (played by the dynamic January Jones) are constantly clashing on screen as they both battle with their mental health issues and try to care for the youngest member of the Baker clan, Serena (Willow Shields).
As Kat pushes herself to learn pair skating, she finds herself at odds with her partner Justin, who is dealing with his own set of issues. The series highlights the difficulties of figure skating and examines the sport’s culture of perfection as the Baker girls try to hide their family’s mental health issues, which only leads to more complications. In addition to tackling mental health, the series also includes plotlines about racism, economic hardship, sexual orientation and the self-destructive lengths athletes will take to maintain a competitive edge.
Notably, “Spinning Out” features Olympian Johnny Weir as one half of the antagonistic pair skating team Kat and Justin compete against. Yes, skating fans, Johnny Weir does perform his scenes while wearing the dramatic outfits that the skating community knows him for. Jonathan Van Ness of “Queer Eye” fame also makes a cameo in the series as a skating choreographer.
Scodelario provides a spectacular performance as Kat teeters into a manic state and tries to restrain herself from falling victim to one of her episodes. Scodelario’s presence tactfully captures the duality of bipolar without sacrificing Kat’s humanity to her mania. Jones also provides an outstanding performance, easily flitting through Carol’s dramatic moods while also revealing the single mother’s vulnerable side.
“Spinning Out” has one season available on Netflix. The series is rated TV-MA. Please note that “Spinning Out” does include depictions of self-harm. Viewers might also enjoy “Soundtrack,” a musical series about love stories in Los Angeles.