A League of Their Own is similar to the 1992 film of the same name. It is a dramedy series following the beginning of women’s professional baseball during WWII. I was a big fan of the film; Geena Davis is stunning! There was a scene where a ball lands by a Black woman, and Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) motions for her to throw the ball. The Black woman chucks the ball past Dottie to a shocked, soon-to-be sore hand, Ellen Sue. As I got older, I thought, “this is a story we need to hear.”
Now, with the A League of Their Own series, we get more than just the white women who first played baseball. The series does a great job moving between the white cast without skimping on Max Chapman’s (Chanté Adams) story as she struggles to find a place for herself as a Black woman baseball player.
Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham are the creators of the series. The focal point of the white women ballplayers is Rockford Peach member Carson Shaw (Abbi Jacobson), but plenty of others receive attention. There’s Greta (Darcy Carden), Shaw’s friend and love interest, Lupe (Roberta Colindrez), the standoffish pitcher that has a hard time showing affection, and Esti (Priscilla Delgado), who tries to befriend Lupe since they both speak Spanish and plenty more.
The series does more than the film. A League of Their Own explores issues outside of gender and war, delving into sexual preferences and identity in a captivating way. As challenging as it is to exist as nonbinary or trans now, back then, it was even worse, which is saying something.
Accepting One’s Self
Most A League of Their Own’s first season is about finding oneself. Through action, words, and companionship, characters face that mirror head-on. The girls all arrive at tryouts, and audiences see Max for the first time with her best friend and artist, the gorgeous Clance (Gbemisola Ikumelo, a staff writer on the series). Of course, they do not give Max a chance to try out, but through the rest of the series, Max tries to juggle her identity and dream with what her mother, Toni (Saidah Arrika Ekulona), expects.
Similar to shows and films like Lovecraft Country and The Great Gatsby, the music A League of Their Own includes is not solely from the 1940s when the story takes place. There are various sounds, yet the way they incorporate tracks does not feel jarring. More often than not, it feels natural to the scene, which was a relief because I abhor misplaced music that detracts rather than enhances a moment. But in A League of Their Own, music like “You Drive Me Wild” by the Runaways “Real Wild Child” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts evoke smiles, laughter, and angst.
A League of Their Own Cheers for LGBTQIA+
The main characters in A League of Their Own are in the LGBTQIA+ community, and seeing their relationships front and center are amazing. Carson and Greta feel sweet and passionate, but there is an underlying fear about societal acceptance and how long it will last since Carson’s husband is away at war. They hide their relationship from everyone, including teammates, because the reprisals can be catastrophic. Max hides who she is from her family and herself. Her optimism is a beacon of hope for some. For her mother, it is a tremor of fear. A League of Their Own looks at their struggles to come to terms with their identities with honesty. There is fear, anger and lashing out, then finally acceptance.
It is vital to show more characters in the LGBTQIA+. Too many act like trans, nonbinary, gay, and bisexual exist today because of society. However, they always lived; the only thing new or newish are some of the names. Normalizing LGBTQIA+ requires shows and films to explore it the same way they explore various heterosexual relationships. This aspect was nonexistent in the movie. But there is room for other couples, such as Carson and her husband, Charlie (Patrick J. Adams), plus Clance and her husband, Guy (Aaron Jennings). Clance is more than Max’s best friend. She is a blerd, bright, and hilarious. She and Guy’s relationship is the sweetest in the series.
Authentic Acting From A Delightful Cast
The acting is across the board outstanding, but stand-outs are Gbemisola Ikumelo, Roberta Colindrez, and Chanté Adams. Gbemisola steals every scene she is in and I want to see even more of her in season two. Roberta’s character blends a rough exterior with quiet concern and heart. Chanté Adams displays joy, pain, fear and determination, navigating between them with ease. Abbi Jacobson also delivers that awkwardness that comes when a person does not know themselves. The cast gives characters we cannot wait to learn more about.
There are moments of tribute to the original film, such as the well-known “no crying in baseball” scene and, while I appreciate it, it feels unnecessary most times. The series is so far removed from the movie that it does not need to revisit iconic moments. A League of Their Own series delivers a grand slam story, with a diverse array of characters to cheer for and love.
The only criticism I have is that there was not enough marketing or scenes to show the series was something different and better than the film. Prime Video is doing an amazing job delivering nuanced, diverse stories that everyone can enjoy. Watch and let me know your favorite character out of the bunch. Mine is Clance hands down because I love a blerdy woman with artistic qualities and humor.