Wednesday, January 1, 2020

REVIEW: 'Spinning Out' - Kat Has to Decide Whether or Not to Continue Skating Competitively in 'Now Entering Sun Valley'

Netflix's Spinning Out - Episode 1.01 "Now Entering Sun Valley"

Rattled after a brutal fall and worried by her mom and sister's obsession with the sport, Kat eyes a life beyond skating. Suddenly, a new offer arrives.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Netflix's Spinning Out.

"Now Entering Sun Valley" was written by Samantha Stratton and directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

It's always annoying when a series premiere tries to lure the audience into believing that the protagonist is about to quit the very thing that provides the series with its premise. It's meant to showcase just how meaningful this environment or profession actually is to that person. It just serves as a lame introduction because it's a false premise right away. There is no genuine stakes to Kat quitting as a figure skater. That gives this hour its core dramatic hook. It would obviously be much healthier for her if she were to move to London with her boyfriend. However, that wouldn't make for an engaging television show. As such, the series flirts with that possibility only for it all to predictably change course at the last moment. That's what makes it odd when that moment of clarity doesn't exactly occur at the end of this premiere. There are so many people trying to convince Kat that she should become a pairs skater with Justin. That will give her the opportunity to continue chasing after her Olympic dreams. Everyone continually notes that she has the talent and charisma to deserve being on that stage wowing the crowd. She just feels defeated first because of a traumatic accident on the ice and because of a bipolar diagnosis. The former really informs so much because it highlights the trepidation and fear she now has when skating. The latter presents as profound personal drama that proves just how chaotic and traumatic her home life can actually be. It ensures that the audience always has to be worried about the mental health of the main protagonist. She sincerely wants to be looking out for her sister when she fears that her new skating coach is a predator who touches her inappropriately. She isn't believed because it's easy to write off her gut feeling as a symptom of a growing psychotic break. That contributes to the huge blow up she has with her mother. Ice skating was Carol's dream. She forced her two daughters onto the ice believing they are the reason why she had to give it up in the first place. She is chasing this high through them. That isn't healthy in the slightest. She puts pressure on them to succeed that can absolutely break them when they don't feel as if they are doing well enough. That torture is unbearable at times. But again, it contributes to the argument that Kat should strive for more independence in this world. She is more than willing to come running the moment Serena calls detailing the latest horrifying action their mother is taking. Kat seems like a much more compassionate parental figure in this household as well. However, the show needs to demonstrate that she may be destined to fall victim to the same psychological trauma as her mother. She is bound to end up exactly like her. That is a scary prospect. It means Kat lives her life in active retaliation to everything that her mother does. And yet, one glance from Carol is enough for Kat to get in her own head during a performance. Carol isn't supportive of her daughter's coaching dreams. As such, it feels like all of this is ending in disaster for Kat for good. She can give up now and sever her connection from this life for good. That could be healthy for her. It can be depressing as well because this sport has given her so much throughout her life. She may be aimless without it. That makes it easy to assume she will take up Justin's offer to become his partner. And yet, the premiere ends with her retrieving the skates she threw away on the side of the road and not her going to Justin and his coach eager to begin work. That is probably coming. It just makes it awkward when Justin's father has already approached another prospect. That could complicate things when some simplicity is drastically needed in order to improve the dramatic potential of the series. It can easily get there. This premiere just embraces some concerning cliches in the hopes of grabbing the audience's attention right away. Meanwhile, the supporting ensemble isn't really given any moments to stand out. In fact, most of them are conspiring behind Kat's back to make this decision for her. That could potentially show how cutthroat this world actually is. But it presents as genuine emotions of friendships and wanting her to succeed. She may stand in her own way sometimes. However, the show has to feel the importance to make that journey about her and not through the argument that others always know better.