It’s easy to look at any era of American history and immediately conjure up myriad stereotypes. The 1940s are no exception. The housewife. The working man. The nuclear family. The details of history lose their definition over time, and in most cases, what we learn in school and watch on TV only blurs those details even further. The new Prime Video series A League of Their Own from Abbi Jacobson and Will Grham aims to bring history back into clarity.
From the start, the show is here to remind us that the people of the 40s were much more than war-time stereotypes. They were women who loved other women. Who questioned their gender. Who married in secret, had to hide their true selves from their friends, and defied the expectations of a limiting society. And in A League of Their Own, they all had a love for the game of baseball.
I will confess that I’ve never seen the 1992 movie with Geena Davis, Madonna, and Tom Hanks. I came to this new television series only knowing the basics; it’s the 1940s, there’s a war on, and the people need baseball (because if there’s one truth in this life, it’s that people will always need baseball). But with the men away fighting on the front lines, the new baseball teams will be made up of women.
The eight-episode season follows the Rockford Peaches, a brand-new team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Utilizing a great ensemble cast, the show features a refreshingly wide range of perspectives and personalities. The characters feel like people you could bump into on the street—though personally, I wish their names had been mentioned just a little bit more often, particularly in the first few episodes. I found myself still searching for names even come the final episode, but that didn’t stop me from rooting for the Peaches on their journey to become a team.
The show also widens its scope beyond the team with Chanté Adams as Max Chapman (a character who I suspect is inspired by Toni Stone, the first woman to play professionally in the big leagues). Max has a million-dollar throwing arm and a dream to play baseball, but after being rejected from the Peaches because of racist recruiters, she’s set on a path of self-discovery as she attempts to find a new baseball team to play on. Her character’s journey is easily the best part of the show, bolstered by the friendship she shares with her best friend Clance (played by the lovely Gbemisola Ikumelo). Their enduring support of each other from the big moments to the little ones reminded me of my friendships and made them instantly my favorite characters.
Now, you’ll always find me lining up to defend sports movies and tv shows where the focus is the people, not the sport. Shows like Friday Night Lights, Ted Lasso, and Glow, to name a few. However, A League of Their Own is my one exception. I wanted a little more baseball to fully immerse myself into the show. After a few montages of the same character stealing second base over and over again, it got a little stale. I wanted more action. I wanted to see the Peaches get just a few more of those all-star moments that have the whole team cheering from the dugout. I wanted to see their fights, friendships, and love affairs play out on the field just as much as they did off of it.
A League of Their Own is a well-balanced mix of fun and poignant, with no shortage of baseball montages in-between. The show is beautifully lit and costumed (seriously, I want all of Lupe’s outfits). The pace starts well but slows after the first episode. I found myself struggling to track how much time was passing between episodes, which made friendships feel unearned, and disputes between characters a little jarring and confusing. Overall, the show is easy to watch—though maybe not as gripping as it could be.
Despite these minor gripes, A League of Their Own is a charming little show. The additions to the story and the widening of its themes feel genuine and needed. You won’t find a nostalgia cash-grab reboot here. Nope, A League of Their Own is excellent and definitely worth your time. Now. if you’ll excuse me, I’m grabbing my baseball and going outside to play catch.