Are you seeking a binge-able comedy-drama series? Look no further than A League of Their Own.
Amazon Prime recently released a TV series rendition of A League of Their Own. The show reimagines iconic scenes and quotes from the original film while diving further into the untold stories of American baseball during World War II. Old and new Rockford Peaches fans have welcomed its refreshing focus on LGBTQ+ and BIPOC perspectives.
Overview of the show:
As the show’s co-creator, writer, and lead actress, Abbi Jacobson, puts it, the 2022 A League of Their Own series “is not a remake” of the 1992 film. It is a more inclusive reimagining with a more diverse set of characters who tackle complicated and relatable personal conflicts surrounding identity, representation, and intersectionality.
The show follows the familiar story of aspiring professional baseball players who dare to challenge gender norms in WW2-era America. Traveling from all parts of the U.S., Canada, and Cuba, the show’s characters make up a diverse set of athletes who strive to become professional “ballplayers.” The protagonist, Carson Shaw (Jacobson), is the heart of the new Rockford Peach team, becoming its coach and developing a romantic relationship with a teammate Greta Gill (D’Arcy Carden). Shaw balances leading her team and exploring her sexuality under the pressure of proving the league’s worth to an unenthused, sexist American public.
Within the show, another storyline observes how Rockford-native, Maxine “Max” Chapman (Chanté Adams), secures her place in baseball as a Black gay woman. Bared from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) and the men’s Negro Leagues, Max relentlessly creates opportunities to unveil her remarkable pitching. Three Black women who were the first to play baseball professionally – Mamie Johnson, Connie Morgan, and Toni Stone – inspired Max’s character. Although Max and the Peaches are not teammates, they fight for the shared goal of establishing a safe, inclusive space for women athletes in American professional sports leagues. The show’s two storylines coexist to provide a broader, more accurate, and inclusive history of women’s baseball.
Comparing the movie and the series:
The show differs significantly from the original movie by expanding the story’s focus away from straight White women. In particular, the writers take pains to forge richer storylines that can resonate with LGBTQ+ and BIPOC viewers. Unlike Geena Davis’s film character, Dottie Hinson, who was effortlessly beautiful and athletic, the new Peaches work for their home runs. They lead messy, complex, fascinating lives and form a tight-knit family with their teammates. Lupe Garcia (Roberta Colindrez) and Esti Gonzalez’s (Priscilla Delgado) relationship in the show exemplifies how the characters take time to form familial bonds. As the team’s only Spanish speakers, they are forced to become each other’s advocates despite having nothing in common. They earn each other’s trust after much comedic bickering and hijinks when they open up to each other. Indeed, not one player is the same. But they all consistently exude a continued effort to perfect their game and team camaraderie. With a team that goes beyond their snappy banter, the series cultivates more heartwarming moments that enthrall the viewer.
Be assured that the writers take care to accurately present the character’s experiences, writing from the heart and tirelessly researching AAGPBL and Negro Leagues histories. The show’s creators, Jacobson and Will Graham are die-hard A League of Their Own movie fans who wanted to expand the film’s story to include characters with whom viewers could identify. Much of the show’s head writers, producers, and creators identify as gay or BIPOC, ensuring that the show’s diversity is reflected on and off-screen. The series’s many writers also include cast members, like Jacobson and Gbemisola Ikumelo, who play Carson Shaw and Clance Morgan. The writers/actresses shine in their roles within the show’s two major relationships. Notably, they infuse heartfelt moments into their scenes, filling the episodes with quotes that often force an “aw” from viewers. Even more intriguing, the actors improvise many lines, ensuring the story is earnest and human.
Impact on viewers:
The series’ 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes demonstrates its success among viewers. Overall, viewers have received the show openly, celebrating its spotlighting of queer and BIPOC stories. TikTok and Twitter have showered the show with love and praise through memes, homemade paintings of the characters, and popularizing the series to the point that it is among the highest-streamed shows on Prime Video.
LGBTQ+ viewers have also appreciated the show’s inclusion of positive representations of queer couples and characters. Indeed, the series portrays healthy, loving relationships, most of which include gay characters. Furthermore, the show has spotlit actors like Roberta Colindrez, a talented queer Latina actor with an impressive acting career and performance that demonstrates the need for her to be a household name.
The series also inspired a memorable coming-out story of a former AAGPBL player, Maybelle Blair. At 95 years old, Blair, who served as a consultant for the film, came out privately to Jacobson and Graham after they explained their intentions to expand the show’s focus in their retelling. After weeks of serving as an integral player in the show’s creation and development, Blair came out publicly during the series premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
In summary, watch the show!
A League of Their Own is a fascinating story that reimagines how talented athletes sought and secured a place for themselves in American professional sports.
Whether or not you have seen the movie, the show stands strong as an independent TV comedy series. Jacobson and Graham’s reboot maintains the heart and passion of the film by delving into the silenced stories the original film did not cover.
The series demonstrates that the media can create period dramas starring LGBTQ+ and BIPOC actors that spotlight the experiences of marginalized communities in the U.S.
Hopefully, A League of Their Own will be the first pitch in a series of shows that reimagine beloved classics to be relevant and relatable to contemporary viewers.
By Sonia Hernandez, NOW Intern