A League of Their Own is a perfect example of my motto, “All the best stories are about love.” This baseball infused series contains many different kinds of love stories – most of them queer. There’s love for everyone in this outstanding reworking of the 1992 feminist classic.
A League of Their Own has a big cast. Only a few members of the cast had major storylines. Which means there are plenty of important characters still to feature in future seasons.
Abbi Jacobson, who created the series with Will Graham, was at the center of everything.
It was 1943. There was a war on. Jim Crow was in open effect. Carson (Abbi Jacobson), a married housewife from Idaho, was on her way to Chicago to try out for a professional women’s baseball league. Her husband was in the service.
The first people Carson met were Greta (D’Arcy Carden) and Jo (Melanie Field). The three of them walked onto the tryout field together for their first view of women, tons of women, who were batting, pitching, throwing, catching, and running. An array of women athletes never seen before. It was a stunning sight. It was a glimpse of joy to realize being who you really were as an athlete was actually possible.
They made it though tryouts and were assigned to a team called The Rockford Peaches. There was nothing subtle about the misogyny, the sexism, the racism, or the homophobia in this series. It was the main thematic element besides the various love stories. And, of course, baseball.
Carson and Greta were the love story that got the most screen time. If Abbi Jacobson and D’Arcy Carden had a chemistry test before they were cast opposite each other in this, they must have blown up the cameras. They were absolutely fantastic together. D’Arcy Carden was thoroughly fabulous in every scene she had.
Carson had some of the running gags as the team got going. They all called her “Farm Girl” even though she protested every time that she didn’t live on a farm. I thought it was funnier that Carson made pies, really sad and terrible looking pies, and offered them to people as bribes or gifts or rewards.
Another player on The Peaches was the pitcher Lupe (Roberta Colindrez), who was the leader of a whole crew of lesbian players who hung out together. They all managed to appear straight to the world, and their straight teammates. These women are the characters I’d like to see explored in a second season.
One of the places they congregated late at night was a secret underground club run by a dapper Rosie O’Donnell. There was every kind of LGBTQ+ person in this bar. Meeting in queer bars was dangerous in 1943, and it indeed led to trouble.
Abbi Jacobson and Chanté Adams were the lead actors in this big cast. Max (Chanté Adams) was a fantastic pitcher, but couldn’t get into the league because she was Black. Her well-developed story ran parallel to the white athletes. She and Carson became friends. Their journey as athletes and as queer women mirrored each other in many ways. Both were naive at first about gender expression and sexuality in all its possibilities. They grew and expanded as leaders and athletes in similar ways.
I think my favorite character in the whole series was Max’s BFF, Clance (Gbemisola Ikumelo). Clance was married and straight and a true friend to Max. She was super smart. I always appreciate smart people. Her deconstruction of The Wizard of Oz from a racist perspective is not to be missed! She loved comics and was a talented artist making her own graphic novels. They were just for herself and her friends, but I’d love to see them noticed – come on season 2, make it so.
In the beginning of the series, Max was having secret sex with the preacher’s wife. She worked in her mother Toni’s (Saidah Arrika Ekulona) beauty salon. A family secret that came out was about her mother’s sister Bertie (Lea Robinson). When Max sneaked off to see her aunt she found that Bertie was a trans man with a wife. She was both wary of him and drawn to him. She quit trying to find a baseball team for a while and began exploring her own identity under Bertie’s eye. At one of Bertie’s parties, Max met Esther (Andia Winslow), a friendly lesbian who turned out to be important in Max’s path as an athlete.
The series has 8 episodes. There’s a very helpful episode by episode guide at Autostraddle that walks you through the references and Easter eggs tied to the 1992 movie. I may have spotted one that Autostraddle missed. A shot of the fans in the bleachers showed a very enthusiastic gray haired woman cheering the team. I think I recognized her from the original film.
I thought the series was an excellent updating of this story for the 2020s. It hit hard at issues that were only lightly touched on in the original movie, integrated the cast, and made it truly LGBTQ+ representative. It was funny and heartfelt with excitement, laughter, and tears. The music was perfection.
The underlying idea that against all odds women can find ways to do what they love and be who they are resonates in every frame of this series. It’s a great story, made even greater expanded and updated for television.
Women directors were Jamie Babbit, Anya Adams, Ayoka Chenzira, and Katrelle N. Kindred. The series is on Prime Video, where the whole season dropped on the same day – thank you for that kindness, Prime.