If like me the impending Fall season makes you want to cozy up and watch a show that is heartwarming without being too "Hallmarky" (not sure that is a word, but you get the idea), then Amazon Prime’s A League of Their Own is the perfect Fall show for you. The show is a great example of how to stand out in a world obsessed with remakes. The show is inspired by the 1992 film and was created by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham. While the show honors the feel-good comedy vibe of the original film, it carves its own impressive path. The show’s path is focused on centering those that the original film excluded. It even corrects the real-life history that was intentionally left out of the original film. This lends well to the show, making it more inviting than the original.
The show follows its two leads, Carson played by Abbi Jacobson and Max played by Chante Adams, as they both attempt to make it in the 1940’s world of baseball. The show is focused on real history during WWII where, with many men at war, women had the brief opportunity to play professional baseball. For Carson, she finds her place in the Women’s American baseball league. In the first episode, Carson adventures from her small town to Chicago to try out for the league. While at the tryout, Carson witnesses Max get turned away from the league. This is a call out to the original film that only briefly references the reality of the exclusion of Black women from this league. The show gives Max a rich, in-depth, and layered storyline of her own that displays her own journey in finding her place in baseball. In fact, Max's story is also rooted in the real-life history of women playing in the Negro league during the 1940s.
While the baseball of it all is a fun aspect of the show, the real heart of the show is the expert manner in which it portrays intersectional experiences. The show, while centered on women and their struggles, does not present just one singular female experience. The Black female experience is a huge aspect of the show, but the show’s two main Black characters’ best friends, Max and Clance, have completely different experiences. Max is a Queer single woman trying to find a way to follow her dream of being a pitcher. Clance, on the other hand, is a married straight woman who writes her own comic books. While Max and Clance may have similar struggles (such as the constant racism they both face), how they are impacted by these experiences and how they react to them are unique, displaying the show’s powerful ability to craft in-depth characters.
Similarly, the show does not lump queerness into one storyline. In fact, the show has multiple parallel queer storylines. Not only are both main characters queer, but many side characters are also queer. While it is certainly not the first show to do this, how the show handles its queer characters is what makes it stand out. Despite an array of queer characters, none of them feel stereotypical or similar to each other. Each example of queerness in the show is unique. Carson’s discovery of her sexuality is completely different from Max’s exploration of her gender expression. Similarly, Bert's journey as a transman choosing to live openly despite the consequences is wildly different from Greta's "rules" that she lives by to hide her sexuality from the world. The show does a great job at capturing the vastness of what it means to be queer. The show sets a standard for queerness on television that will be hard for many other shows to keep up with.
The show also balances comedy with drama rather well. The show's comedy is quieter and often leans on Jacobson's brand of awkward humor, but it has impeccable timing that often makes the comedy feel natural. Max and Clance also stand out in terms of comedy on the show. Their relationship feels genuine, and their humor often lands, as jokes between friends often do. The drama of the show deals with issues such as racism, oppression, bigotry, and sexism. The show deals with these issues with nuance and care in a manner that that renders the show a must-watch.
With a fresh cast, impeccable writing, and a compelling storyline, A League of Their Own has something for every viewer. A League of Their Own has certainly become the underdog show of 2022. With a cliff hanger ending that perfectly sets the show up for a second season, the show is poised to continue making a name for itself. Here's to hoping we get another inning of A League of Their Own! You can stream season one of A League of Their Own on Amazon Prime Video now.
Autumn Andersen is an editor for Penumbra Online and grad student at CSU Stanislaus. She enjoys reading, writing, and talking about her favorite shows.