As a major fan of the 1992 A League of Their Own, I knew I had to take on the new series from Prime Video. Seeing a cast that is almost entirely women is just what we need in 2022, and I was thrilled that it was while taking on one of my favourite classics. I will say, however, that this movie is not at all what I thought it would be, and it isn’t really about baseball either.
Of course, the original film touched on plenty of subjects from war to sexism and more, and baseball was just the setting bringing it all together. In A League of Their Own, the series, racism, sexism, and homophobia are at the forefront of the issues touched on.
The story starts out like any fans of the film would assume. The world is at war, the men are gone, and the women are taking on jobs they used to have, including trying out for baseball teams. We end up following the Rockford Peaches, and very conveniently, all our favourites from tryouts have made the team, including fellow Canadian Jess McCready (played by actual Canadian, Kelly McCormack).
After tryouts, the show breaks into two separate stories, one following Carson Shaw (Abbi Jacobson, also co-creator) and the Rockford Peaches, and one following Max Chapman (Chanté Adams) a Black woman who wasn’t even allowed to try out. We follow Shaw through her trials with the team, her confidence, and even her sexuality. Chapman seems to be facing similar issues, especially with sexuality and identity, and race only making things exponentially more difficult for her. The two eventually connect through baseball, and bond because of the similarities.
“A League of Their Own uses a classic film to touch on topics that are very much needed as much today as they were during WWII.”
Though we don’t have a drunken Tom Hanks to lead the girls in A League of Their Own, we did have a less than perfect Nick Offerman as Dove Porter, a famous player who is now leading the Peaches, albeit reluctantly. After eventually disappearing, the girls are forced to lead themselves, and the group of “misfits” doesn’t quite click. Whether the issues are confidence, husbands at war, sexuality, language barriers or racial discrimination, everyone on the team is fighting a battle.
Shaw is the most relatable character on the team and Abbi Jacobson does her justice with a confidence that comes and goes, and an awkwardness that is ultimately charming. Chapman is a powerful character hidden behind a meek shell with bursts of confidence when she feels safe, and Chanté Adams handles these two sides of the character well. Watching the character go from cocky and unbeatable to weak and full of self-doubt so naturally is saddening.
The most magnetic character is Greta Gill, played by D’Arcy Carden. I adore Carden and was excited to see her playing someone so cool and collected compared to her role as Janet on The Good Place. Greta is somehow both the bad girl and the good girl on the team, encouraging trouble, but always trying to look like the top player/student. Her relationship with Shaw, and her best friend Jo (Melanie Field) really helps develop her character, and theirs. The buddy comedy between Jo and Greta is great, and brings a lot of laughter to A League of Their Own.
As for the series itself, A League of Their Own uses a classic film to touch on topics that are very much needed as much today as they were during WWII. Being gay was considered a disease, being transgender could have you ostracized from your own family. The show uses the time period to show just how drastic things were, but in all reality, a lot of these issues still remain today. Fitting given the film and the topics, Rosie O’Donnell briefly plays an important character, Vi. And no, she isn’t reprising her role from the original film. It was nice to see the nod to the old cast though.
A League of Their Own is a powerful story, just not the one I expected when I sat down to watch the series, but I’m glad I did. The women behind these roles do an excellent job bouncing between comedy and drama, and I will get chills any time I watch anyone catch a ball as flawlessly as Chanté Adams.