31 Pilots in 31 Days: A League of Their Own

When it was originally on: 2021-present

Original network: Amazon Prime

Where you can stream it now: Amazon Prime

Had I seen it before: No, but the 1992 movie is one of my favorite movies of all time.

What IMDb says: As a girl who grew up playing softball, the 1992 classic was a formative part of my youth and continues to be one of my favorite films of all time. I’ve even reviewed it here for a prior blogging challenge. When I first found out they were doing a series, I was skeptical, but I sighed in relief upon learning how they were going about it. That is, they were not going to try to “remake” the story of Dottie and Kit depicted in the original, but instead create a whole new cast of characters that play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. This seems like the right way to go about things as far as I’m concerned.

I also feel like of all the streamers, Amazon is still struggling to figure out what content lane they really belong in moreso than most others. It’s been quite some time since I checked in with Amazon’s slate of original programming, so it made sense to carve out a slot for one of their more recent offerings.

Why I picked it: As a girl who grew up playing softball, the 1992 classic was a formative part of my youth, and continues to be one of my favorite films of all time. When I first found out they were doing a series, I was skeptical, but I sighed in relief upon learning how they were going about it. That is, they were not going to try to “remake” the story of Dottie and Kit depicted in the original, but instead create a whole new cast of characters that play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. This seemed like the right way to go about things as far as I’m concerned.

I also feel like of all the streamers, Amazon is still struggling to figure out what content lane they really belong in moreso than most others. It’s been quite some time since I checked in with Amazon’s slate of original programming, so it made sense to carve out a slot for one of their more recent offerings.

What I liked: There’s a great cast of supporting characters here. D’Arcy Carden as Greta. Her and Carson have a lot of great chemistry, and I love how well this show manages to charge every one of their scenes with sexual tension even when those scenes have nothing to do with sex. Greta is also this fantastic embodiment of glamor and femininity while still playing ball, and it’s like it never even crossed her mind that those things couldn’t get together. I love how the show gave these players varying levels of traditional femininity without portraying any of them as right or wrong.

I also love how the show quickly establishes how Greta can see things in Carson she doesn’t see in herself, and knows things Carson doesn’t necessarily know about herself. Part of this is sheer intuition, but we also get this fabulous plot device where Carson gets drunk and writes what sounds like a “dear john” letter to her husband returning from war. In the morning, Carson can’t remember what she wrote while Greta can, but refuses to tell Carson any specifics (we, the audience, are left in the dark as well.) Giving these two several secrets between them has me interested to see where their relationship goes next. They could be best friends, they could be more than friends, they could have a huge fight and turn into bitter enemies by the end of the season. Either way, it looks like it’ll be fun to watch.

All that said, the best dynamic duo here is by FAR Max and her best friend Clance Morgan. Clance is played by Gbemisola Ikumelo and holy crap does that woman just steal the whole show. She’s the kind of lightning bolt screen presence you want to see more of, and mind you she’s in a best friend role here and doesn’t even play baseball. Max and Clance have this great best friend chemistry that lets you understand their relationship immediately, yet both characters still have their own life challenges outside of each other. Max is torn between pursuing a baseball career in spite of all the racism and sexism in her way, while Clance is still adjusting to life as a married woman. You could honestly give me a show that’s just about these two, and I’d love it.


What I didn’t like: As someone who grew up playing ball, and loves sports movies and baseball movies in particular, I wish there had been more actual baseball. A lot of great sports stories use those sports and how characters play to shine more light on who these characters are. In the A League of Their Own movie, Dottie isn’t the trash talker that other players are, but when she catches one ball barehanded we know she’s not to be messed with. In this one moment, power dynamics shift instantly. Dottie becomes “the one to beat” and maintains that status for the rest of the film.

Here, the scenes where our characters are actually on the field don’t really communicate much besides “these women are competent baseball players.” We’ve only seen tryouts, and still haven’t seen them try to function together as a team. At this point, I’m not even sure I really buy that these women really love baseball that much, Max being the one exception to that. It’s impossible to say this early, but the pilot does have me slightly worried that the show is less of the proper sports-drama-with-women that the film was, and instead uses baseball merely as a backdrop while focusing more on the players’ personal lives.

What’s also somewhat strange is that based on how the men managing tryouts are talking, they don’t really care that much about how well these women play baseball. They want “ladies” and “All-Americans,” but the pilot doesn’t reach the point where our actual players know this. There’s a lot of great potential here to explore the additional expectations that are placed on women, and how it feels to know you’re great at what you do, but still not accepted unless you’re “conventionally attractive” and “ladylike.” I wish the pilot had offered more reassurance that they’re going to continue pulling at thread, but at the end of the pilot, this still isn’t a real conflict yet. Or at least, not a conflict that has made life harder for any of our main characters outside of Max. Maybe they’ll fulfill that potential… or maybe it’ll be a few lines in a pilot. It’s hard to say.

Either way… the fact that the pilot seems to have almost all its major character developing moments happen off of the ball field has me a little worried that even if this show is good, it might still lack what made the movie great.

Do I want to watch Ep. 2: So ultimately… yes. I definitely still have some skepticism, and worry the show could go down paths I don’t like, but at the same time, I also see how great it could be if it avoids those pitfalls.

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