Wednesday, January 1, 2020

REVIEW: 'Spinning Out' - Kat Fights to Prove Her Worth as Justin's New Partner in 'Welcome to the Family'

Netflix's Spinning Out - Episode 1.02 "Welcome to the Family"

Drastic decisions change Kat's career path, but an unexpected competitor immediately threatens her chances. At home, Serena struggles with Carol.

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 next episode of Netflix's Spinning Out.

"Welcome to the Family" was written by Samantha Stratton and directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

The narrative continually wants the audience to be nervous about Kat. That's certainly one way to tell a story about a character with a mental health condition. Of course, it also runs the risk of being all-consuming as well. If Kat has an erratic life where she is constantly flung from one potential option to another, it can grow tiring rather quickly. The show is still fundamentally setting up its premise. That comes from the premiere largely focusing on Kat weighing her options. She thought it would be better to quit skating altogether and move to London with her boyfriend. That was never a viable option though. It is appreciated that the show states that she has to work hard in order to grab this opportunity presented to her. Becoming Justin's partner was originally offered to her. However, Leah stepped up and took the role for herself. As such, Kat feels defeated and as if she has lost out on yet another opportunity. The show is basically just creating a bunch of drama in order to highlight Kat's plucky spirit and the overall nervous sensation that the storytelling actively wants. Again, that can grow annoying. It certainly highlights the narrative quirks instead of just being grounded in this world of figure skating and the drama that naturally comes out of the competition. Instead, it's another narrative featuring a reckless woman with bipolar disorder who may have success and fame but is always one breakdown away from losing it all. That is the broad and cliche way to tell this particular story. In fact, it's fascinating to watch the show mine Kat and Carol's relationship knowing they suffer from the same disease. It has to be treated differently between them. That amounts to Kat continually being seen taking her pills while Carol is cutting her daughter out of every family picture. That is absolutely devastating. There is the clear sense that Carol wants to present as the picture perfect family with her daughters carrying forward her legacy. She wants Kat to return home. And then, she turns immediately spiteful and condescending the moment Kat stands by her independence. Kat doesn't have a place to go. She simply knows that she has to continue chasing this passion. She can still put in the work to go far in this sport. Her attempts to show off and impress people on the ice are plentiful. In fact, it seems like everyone has the potential to bump into each other and create a far amount of drama out there. Kat is hardly the only one the audience should be worried about at this point. Jenn's doctor told her that she needed to rest for three months and rehab her hip. Her continuing to skate is putting her ability to walk in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Carol wholeheartedly embraces Mitch as Serena's coach because she sees all the potential he offers her in order to win. She is willing to overlook any concerns that Kat brought up. She can dismiss them while still trying to present as a good mother. Serena yearns for her mother to be good for awhile. That means she's even willing to condemn Kat if it helps create that. She remains hopeful that her mother can get better. That may not be true at all. She may forever fall into this pattern of making promises she has no intention of keeping and then lashing out the moment she is called out for it. Kat has removed herself from that situation. It may place her sister in more danger. However, Serena is strong herself. Everyone wants Kat to remain focused on winning with Justin. She lands the position as his partner because she impresses his father and stepmother. They are in her corner. His coach is even willing to house her for as long as it takes. This all seems slightly too good to be true. But it's also a lifeline when Kat needs it the most. She needs to take advantage of it. That could propel her to greatness in this sport. But again, the show maintains a sense of teetering on the edge. It could all work out. Or it could all fade away just like her last competitive performance. As such, the introduction of a past sexual encounter between Kat and Justin feels more forced in order to increase the tension instead of a natural extension of what is going to happen next. Kat didn't account for that at all in her decision to take up this spot. But now, it's presented as the most important thing that could also disrupt the routine that Dasha is creating for them to win. That is exciting. It remains a little too manufactured but the effort to hide some of these writing tricks to create drama is also present.