The first season of Amazon Prime’s new series, “A League of Their Own,” based on the beloved 1992 Penny Marshall film, dropped on August 12. If somehow you’ve missed the collective lesbian internet going crazy over the show, its plot, and its characters, let us fill you in: The eight episodes tell funny and heart-warming stories of women finding themselves, finding their teams, and finding out where they belong in a society that wants them not to be “too much” or want the “wrong” things.
It’s no wonder that the show’s official Instagram account, @leagueonprime, quickly garnered almost 40,000 followers. It’s even less surprising that Facebook users have been frantically sharing screenshots, memes, and quizzes to tell you which character you are and which character is your girlfriend. Lesbians all around the country have binge-watched all eight episodes, some of us several times a week, and we all can’t help but ask, “Why am I so obsessed with this show?”
Great question! Here are seven reasons:
It’s GAY. Unlike the film, which only showed the members of the 1943 All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) in relationships with men, the TV series highlights the relationship between the Rockford Peaches’ catcher Carson Shaw (executive producer Abbi Jacobson) and the glamorous first basewoman, Greta Gill (The Good Place’s D’arcy Carden). Carson’s husband is off fighting in World War II when she runs off to the join the league and has a queer awakening with the more experienced Greta. Quickly, it becomes clear that almost half of the Peaches are queer (or, as Greta says, “fruits”).
It’s INTERSECTIONAL. It expands the world of the film by adding the experience of a Black pitcher, Maxine Chapman (Chante′ Adams), who isn’t allowed to try out for the league, and her struggles with her family and community as she attempts to join the local screw factory’s team. She is supported in a funny and touching relationship with her bestie, Clance (Gbemisola Ikumelo), a married straight woman who is a ride-or-die best friend and comic book nerd. Also depicted are the trials of the white-passing Latinx players, the butch Lupe Garcia (Vida’s Roberta Colindrez) and the non-English-speaking young Cuban, Esti (Priscilla Delgado), who in different ways work to be seen first as excellent baseball players to win the respect of their teammates and spectators.
It’s HISTORICALLY ACCURATE. According to Maybelle Blair (who just came out as a lesbian at 95 while advising on the show), when she played for the Peoria Redwings in 1948, maybe two-thirds of the players were queer, although they had to hide it due to the legal and social constraints of the time. So, while some reviewers on Amazon have argued that Jacobson and co-producer Will Graham are taking the 1940s and “shoving homosexuality down our throats,” the gayness and intersectionality add to the realism—and believability—of the stories being told.
It’s NON-TRAUMATIC. In interviews, Chanté Adams has said that Maxine Chapman’s character is based on the real-life stories of the only three Black women (Toni Stone, Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan) who played for the Negro Leagues. So yes, Maxine and her friends encounter racism, but their story focuses on the resilience and thriving of both the straight and queer Black communities of Rockford. Chanté Adams has said that she wasn’t interested in stories “centered on Black trauma.” Similarly, although there is a scene where the police raid an underground gay bar that the Peaches go to (owned by Vi, a very butch Rosie O’Donnell in a cameo appearance), the vast majority of the eight episodes focus more on the queer love and friendship. NO GAYS ARE BURIED.
It’s BADASS BASEBALL. Before filming the pilot (pre-Covid) and again before filming the rest of the episodes, the actors attended an intensive baseball camp and trained for months with consultant Justine Siegal, the first female coach of a professional men’s team, and a group of professional players. So, when you watch main characters hit the ball across—and out of—the park, you’re seeing the real deal. And the background players are baseball and softball players from the Pittsburgh area where the show was filmed.
It’s GENDER-EXPANSIVE. From lipstick lesbian Greta Gill to Maxine’s trans Uncle Bertie (played by nonbinary Lea Robinson), there are a lot of gender expressions portrayed on screen. We see the very feminine and straight Maybelle (Molly Ephraim) both get excited about Charm School and also brag that she could eat more hotdogs and run faster than the men she attracts. We see Lupe and her best friend Jess McCready (Kelly McCormack) drawing on their butch swagger to flirt with women at the gay bar. And we see Carson and Max bond over not feeling particularly girly or manly. Max complains about women always wanting her to act tougher and says, “Maybe we need a new word for us…. Something in between.” Later, when Maxine attends a very gay house party, she explains to Bertie that wearing the trousers and vest but not the jacket of the suit that he made was her choice, and it’s implied that this look is her striking a middle ground between her mother’s femininity and her uncle’s masculinity. Seeing characters not only present as a range of genders, but also talk about it with each other is refreshing.
It’s JOYFUL. As Jacobson and Graham have often said, their goal was to show Black joy and queer joy. From early in the first episode, when Carson, Greta and her BFF Jo DeLuca (Melanie Field) walk into the major league stadium and stop short to stare at the hundreds of women throwing themselves into baseball practice, the series is a celebration: of women and their athleticism, of queer love and friendship, of Black community supporting each other and and queer community embracing their own queerness.
So if you are one of the queer folx who have become obsessed with the newest lady-loving lady celebration of historic gayness, you’re not wrong to be obsessed and you’re in good company. And if you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s rare to see a show that celebrates queerness in all of its expansive, joyful glory. “A League of Their Own” is that show.