'Nancy & Tonya' Manages To Win Tonya Harding Some Fans (Seriously!)
NBC's Nancy & Tonya documentary premiered Sunday to rehash the scandal that surrounded the 1994 Olympics. But the most surprising thing isn't that we're still talking about this incident 20 years later. It's that the documentary may have wooed some people over to the #teamtonya side. Twenty years ago, when figure skater Tonya Harding's ex-husband created a plot to injure the knee of fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan, the country didn't know the full story. Legal proceedings were ongoing, Harding wasn't allowed to comment on anything, and Kerrigan stayed away from the media. But now, 20 years later, NBC's documentary has allowed both women to speak about the event, and with all the evidence presented in one place, Harding's story has won over some fans.
In the documentary, Harding details her childhood, and there's no denying it wasn't all smooth sailing. Growing up in a trailer park with hardly enough money to scrape together for ice skating lessons, Harding had an alcoholic and abusive mother and, as that pattern all-too-often extends itself into other relationships, Harding found herself married to an abusive man at the age of 19 as a way to escape living with her mother. (Abuse aside, I don't blame Harding for wanting to leave based on her mother's coat, complete with shoulder parrot, because what even?)
Harding's story of hardship, in addition to her struggle to train for the Olympics under the media spotlight (who would do things like tow Harding's car to get her to emerge from her house for a photo-op), seemed to make a few viewers feel sympathetic towards Harding, who maintains to this day that she had no idea her ex-husband was planning the attack on Kerrigan. Back in 1994 when the event occurred, there were hardly any people on Team Tonya, but NBC's documentary and the distance it provides from the actual clouded-with-questions event has allowed some people to move over to Harding's side.
But even those who weren't persuaded by Harding's story were having a difficult time being team-either-of-them after watching documentary. Kerrigan, who was rightly portrayed in the '90s as the victim she was, wasn't entirely sympathetic in retrospect. Though the media definitely fueled the cat-fight story between the two ladies, neither of them helped their own case much. Harding might have played the poor-me card when her shoelace snapped prior to her routine — and said that gold medal winner Oksana Baiul, though talented, couldn't jump as well as she could — but Kerrigan wasn't quite as much of a princess as originally thought. Throughout the debacle, she claimed to hate the media attention but would send the press outside her house pizza. She also wore the outfit she was attacked in during her first on-ice training session with Harding after the incident, a move that didn't quite turn the cameras away. Kerrigan also mocked Baiul for crying and complained that she was more worthy of a gold medal than the Ukrainian skater. Many watching the documentary determined that neither of these women are really worth siding with in any capacity.
At the very least, Nancy & Tonya did leave viewers with one takeaway: Harding can wield a chainsaw like a boss.