Editor's note: this review contains spoilers from season one of Amazon Prime Video's series A League of Their Own.
Baseball is all about finding your team, and for Carson Shaw (series creator Abbi Jacobson), getting to play professional baseball in Amazon Prime Video’s new series A League of Their Own allowed her to find not just where she fits in on the field, but off it as well.
The A League of Their Own movie is legendary, terrific, and an all-time great, but this show has a chance to be even better. Jacobson and co-creator Will Graham have crafted something really really special here.
The series, set in 1943, follows a group of women playing for the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. But these women aren’t the ones you’d normally expect in a period piece. The main characters are Carson Shaw, a catcher from a small town in Idaho, and Max Chapman (Chanté Adams), a Black pitcher who wants to try out but is rejected from the team.
A League of Their Own tells a terrific sports story about a team of underdogs who are some of the best at what they do. The show has great baseball action, dramatic sports storylines, and equally great storylines for its characters when they’re not playing. While the action on the field is fiery hot, the action off of it is even hotter.
This is prestige lesbian television. A League of Their Own features some of the best writing and directing on TV this year. It's Carol, but with Black people, butches, and a great sense of humor. It's the lesbian TV show we’ve been waiting for.
Jacobson and Adams give Emmy-worthy performances, as do standouts D'arcy Carden as lesbian, high femme heartbreaker Greta, and Gbemisola Ikumelo as Clance, Max’s hilarious, comic-book loving best friend.
A League of Their Own shows queer communities in a way we’ve never seen before and celebrates them in a way never done before. Thanks to characters like Lupe (Roberta Colindrez), Jess (Kelly McCormack), and Jo (Melanie Field), we get to see queer Latinas, butches, and fat women who are celebrated for being exactly who they are.
The show is about looking for your team, and it shows that best when exploring queer themes.
In a later episode of the first season, Carson discovers that two of her teammates, Jess and Lupe, are going to a lesbian bar. At first, she’s confused and overwhelmed by what she’s seeing. But she quickly feels at home. These women are just like her, but they’re happy and there are lots of them.
As soon as Lupe sees that Carson is also queer, all their previous team drama is over and they’re immediately friends. When they can see each other for who they really are – queer women – they finally understand each other. They’re on the same team.
Original A League of Their Own star Rosie O’Donnell appears in this scene as the married butch who owns the bar. I’ve never felt more seen by a piece of media than in the scenes in this lesbian bar.
There are a few scenes throughout the show that made me not just cry, but sob. This includes pretty much every scene between Max and her estranged uncle Bertie (Lea Robinson). At the beginning of the series, Max thought Bertie was her aunt, as her mother had pushed him away when he transitioned, but when she finally gets to meet him, he helps open up her eyes.
Bertie serves as the trans elder we all needed when we first came out for Max. He cuts her hair, gives her her first suit, and shows her what kind of life is possible.
It’s especially great to see all this happening in a period piece that takes place nearly a hundred years ago. Long before most of us were born. It reminds us we’ve always been here, and we’ll always be here.
In one episode, Uncle Bertie invites Max to a party he’s throwing with some friends from out of town. When she shows up to the party wearing a suit that Bertie gave her, she enters a whole new world. She sees dozens of Black queer and trans people, all dressed to the nines, showing off their gender and glamour and divinity in all their glory.
It’s a party of beautiful, joyful, self-actualized Black queer and trans people dancing and celebrating together with their chosen family in 1940s America. Max had never seen anything like it before, and we’ve never seen anything like it on TV.
Throughout the season, we also get to see Carson and Max bond over their shared love of baseball and women. This is honestly my favorite friendship in the series, and I can’t wait to see what it grows into.
A League of Their Own shows how our communities have survived impossible times before, and it gives us hope that we can survive them again. Carson lives in a world where being a queer woman seems impossible, especially when you’re doing it on your own. Maybe if Carson can find her team, she can survive, and if we can find ours, we can survive too.
All eight episodes of the first season of A League of Their Own are streaming on Amazon Prime Video.