Streaming has a problem. One that has become standard practice since high-end, web-based original programming took hold over the last decade. One of structure that sees most [insert streaming service here] originals not actually begin their shows until well into their seasons. In other words, the idea of a series premise being established and started by the end of the first episode feels like a thing many streaming shows have considered themselves too cool for. But, this trend is hurting the chances for these originals succeeding, and the latest example of such a problem is contained within the new Netflix figure skating drama, Spinning Out.
Created by Samantha Stratton, Spinning Out follows the life of Kat Baker, a highly-skilled singles figure skater with bipolar disorder who, in an attempt to rejuvenate the path to her dreams after a nasty fall, joins the pairs circuit with a new male partner in hopes of keeping her pursuits alive.
Sounds like a great dynamic for a series, right? That’s because it is… which is why it’s so troublesome the decision was made to withhold the establishment of that premise until the third episode. When the show starts, all we get is world-building and background information on Kat’s life. It’s fine backstory. Nothing terribly spectacular. But, it’s all information that could have been better served if established alongside the main narrative of Kat’s shift from single to pair skating
The show is asking audiences to sit through two hours of melodrama before getting to the meat of the series and, in a world of infinite programming choices, that’s asking for a lot.
That said, once the show DOES get into its A-plot, it proves itself to be of the same caliber as similarly themed prestige series about body-breaking athletics such as Starz’s short-lived Flesh and Bone. The skating bits are dynamic and visually striking and the off-the-rink antics are as soapy as any fan of this genre could hope for.
Overall, Spinning Out is a series that puts itself at a deficit by demanding audiences sit through far more hours than they should have to, to get to the dynamics of what it’s all about. Once it gets there, though, it turns into a show that has a decent shot at giving fans of prime-time soaps just what they’re looking for to kick off the 2020s.