As a former catcher who grew up with a major case of comphet, it’s physically impossible for me to describe just how important Amazon Prime Video’s A League of Their Own — a show about women professional baseball players during World War II — is. I’m always happy to try, though.
Last August, Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham’s reimagining of the 1992 classic film of the same name hit our TV screens. The movie had starred Geena Davis, Lori Petty, and Madonna, and was basically my childhood. A couple of decades’ worth of growing up and a 2020 rewatch made me notice the film’s blink-and-you-miss-it points on racism and homosexuality, and that moved me.
So imagine my surprise when Amazon’s 2022 eight-episode TV series turned out to be unapologetically, wonderfully gay.
(If you haven’t seen it yet, then what are you doing? Go and watch it, then come back to this article.)
I remember finishing the show and thinking that it was so good — and so well-received — that it felt inevitable for Amazon Prime Video to make the renewal announcement soon.
Boy, was I wrong.
Months passed, and the announcement didn’t come. The excited buzz turned to unease. Unease turned to desperation.
Apparently, after months of discussion between Sony Pictures and Amazon Prime Video, the not-yet-final decision comes down to cost. If it pushes through, the show will be the latest in the already too-long list of LGBTQ+ TV shows — specifically those with WLW storylines — that have been canceled before their time.
Of course, that’s a big “if,” and one that feels a bit foreboding given that the likes of Paper Girls, The Wilds, and Warrior Nun got an even worse deal. Sure, it would be great to see a bit more of Max Chapman, Carson Shaw, and the Peaches, but half a season just isn’t enough. And frankly, it sucks.
But still, Graham had clarified on Twitter that the decision isn’t final, and the news was only a leak. This means that there’s still room to change the decision, and so fans are pulling out all the stops: Think trending hashtags, petitions, and heck, even an actual plane flying over Amazon Prime Video’s headquarters in Culver City.
And in that spirit, I’d like to list down five good reasons A League Of Their Own deserves way #MoreThanFour episodes.
1. There’s Thoughtful, Diverse Representation.
In A League of Their Own, there is no single way to be gay.
You can realize it a bit later in the game, like Carson; be a bit more butch like Jess, Lupe, and Jo. You can enjoy dresses like Greta; wear suits like Rosie O’Donnell’s Vi and Uncle Bertie; or be somewhere in between, like Max. You can be soft-spoken or loud, demure or sensual, brash or compassionate — none of the above, or all of the above.
The show’s varied depictions of what it means to be queer gives something for everyone in our diverse community. It also means that the gays on-screen don’t have to carry everything the way token gay characters have had to for ages.
Lastly, I love that they were able to show a bit more of queer history — especially queer community history. I’ve gotten so used to lonely lesbians (a la Ammonite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire) that it’s refreshing to see how it was like to find other queer people in the ‘40s.
Because, of course, we existed back then! We have existed for centuries now, including our trans siblings, in our gay bars and meeting places, way before the current wave of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ discussions — and the moral panics they stir up — started taking place.
We’re not a new phenomenon nor a passing trend, and we’re here to stay. Our stories deserve to continue, too.
Interestingly, this dedication to thoughtful and diverse representation is Amazon Studios’ policy. Professing to hold the company to “a higher standard of representation,” the policy reads:
“Inclusion and equity are accomplished by adopting reparative processes, employed with intention, to produce a meaningful and sustainable result. This often requires a willingness to work above-and-beyond baseline demographic totals and percentages, where feasible… We want our content to reflect the diverse communities we serve around the world.”
That sounds good and all, but I wish there was something on there against canceling your gays.
We’re not asking for it to be as long as, say, Grey’s Anatomy’s 19 seasons. But it’s clear that there’s so much more to still explore in these characters’ stories, and in the communities they belong to. And that’s going to take way #MoreThanFour episodes.
2. It’s an Award-Winning Home Run of a Production.
Obviously, as a flaming homosexual who loves baseball and softball, I’m biased. But it’s hard to deny that A League of Their Own is a home run of a production.
Stepping away from the on-screen representation for a bit, I’d like to highlight that the show is technically excellent: There’s consistent writing, detailed production design, thoughtful costuming, great editing, fantastic cinematography, and powerful performances. Even the scoring is a lot of fun. The entire production just hits it out of the park, and it’s hard not to get swept up into the story.
And it’s not just me saying it. The series currently enjoys an impressive 94% rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Plus, A League of Their Own has been honored by the Critics Choice Association with the Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment, the National Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign, and the Voice and Visibility Award from the National Council of La Raza. It’s been nominated for the Outstanding New TV Series, Best Supporting Performance, and Outstanding Costume Design.
(March 31, 2023 update: A League of Their Own just won the GLAAD Award for Outstanding New TV Series, which it thoroughly deserves!)
Honoring that hard work means giving the production team the space and time to continue telling the story in much #MoreThanFour episodes.
3. The On-Screen and Real-Life Players Deserve More.
Reports reveal that showrunners Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham have been fighting hard for a proper renewal, and I think that they deserve #MoreThanFour.
Graham has described making A League of Their Own to be “the honor of a lifetime.” Earlier this month, he said, “It’s hard making shows in our streaming world that really speak authentically to people from marginalized backgrounds. And we see that every day with all of the cancellations that are coming down the pike.”
Jacobson has also spoken about what A League of Their Own means to her. While accepting the National Visibility Award for the show, she described making it as “one of the highlights of my life… a great responsibility and an honor.”
She said, “There is no way to quantify how many lives have been changed by seeing Max’s journey, how many people are now living more honestly after seeing Carson fall in love with Greta, and how many people understand the trans experience after seeing a character like Bertie and the love between him and Gracie. That invisible data is what I care about, and what we should all care about — especially those who have the power to decide what stories are told and what stories are seen.”
Next to her during that speech was Chanté Adams, who plays Max on the show. She shared how making A League of Their Own and presenting it to the world reflected the struggles of their on-screen characters in many ways.
Citing five years, the pandemic, a shooting relocation, and an unusually rainy summer shooting outdoors, she talked about the struggles of production — and what happened after they shared it with the world. “Just like a lot of coming out stories, not every reaction is positive,” she said. “But the cast and crew were prepared to go to war over this show.”
And it’s for them, too, that I’d like to argue against the too-short second season.
It’s not every day you get a cast like this on a major TV production. The cast includes Lea Robinson, the Black transgender and non-binary cutie who plays Bertie; Gbemisola Ikumelo, the extremely talented actress playing Clance; and Roberta Colindrez, who’s spoken before about how hard it is to establish an acting career when you are gender-nonconforming (and who I’ve had a crush on since her stint on Vida, but that is a whole other article).
Aside from the people on screen, there are also the players that were in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in real life.
When preparing for the show, Graham and Jacobson had asked several members of the league to serve as advisors. One of them, the legendary Maybelle Blair, came out as gay at 95 years old.
“I thought I was the only one in the world,” Blair had said during the press tour. “I thought, ‘oh my gosh Maybelle, what’s wrong with you?’
The answer, of course, is nothing. Nothing is wrong with her.
Her friend from those days, Terry Donahue, and her partner Pat Henschel were also the center of the 2020 documentary A Secret Love. We owe it to women like them to tell more of their stories in a way that isn’t rushed.
4. The Money Is There.
I know show business is, well, a business. And business is all about numbers. But that’s also why Amazon Prime Video’s plan is so confusing to me, because the money to support the show should be there.
Graham pointed out that A League of Their Own enjoys a sizeable audience and a 94% completion rate — outperforming shows that have already been renewed.
It’s also not really a small or niche show. Though only Amazon Prime Video has access to streaming stats, Graham has said that the show has a very big audience — both in the United States and the rest of the globe.
As part of the campaign for #MoreThanFour, fans have also created an interactive map showing just that.
Moreover, fruity folk are a spending demographic. Just imagine how much the company would earn if they actually made A League of Their Own merch and made even the tiniest effort to advertise their own show. (Both of those of things are currently being done by sapphics, for free.)
And to drive home that point, fans even got an actual plane to fly over the Amazon Prime Video’s headquarters in California with a banner that read, “Renew A League of Their Own #MoreThanFour.”
5. It’s for Everybody.
So I’ve talked a lot about fruity people, and that’s because the show centers queer stories. But the fact that A League of Their Own is treated as a niche show for it is a bit of an insult.
Yes, the show explores queerness and Otherness. Yes, it’s created by a largely queer cast. But it doesn’t mean that straight, cis people can’t enjoy it and feel something.
In her speech at the Human Rights Campaign awarding, Jacobson talked about how seeing fleshed-out characters that look or love the way you do can change your life.
But she also rightly pointed out the importance of seeing characters with lives unlike our own. It “allows us to more fully understand others’ experiences, and what it’s like to walk the world in different bodies. It is one of the most significant tools we have in our fight towards progress.”
After all, a story about women overcoming all odds should, in theory, be inspiring for everybody. It can also help us better understand why there were so many odds stacked against them in the first place — and what we can do about it moving forward.
That includes letting these people continue to tell these stories with, hopefully, much #MoreThanFour episodes.
TL;DR on #MoreThanFour
- Amazon Prime Video is killing its own show, a homerun of a series that explores found family, resilience, and sexuality.
- The show doesn’t deserve that to be kneecapped with just four episodes. The second season deserves at least the eight-episode run the first season had.
- In a perfect world, A League of Their Own gets the whole nine innings.
The good news, Graham says, is that people are listening. I hope to the baseball gods that they are.