The Daily Stream: In A League Of Their Own, Everyone Is The Hero Of Their Own Story

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Series: "A League of Their Own" (2022)

Where You Can Stream It: Amazon Prime Video

The Pitch: The year is 1943 and the sport is baseball. If you aren't already a baseball whiz, then prepare to learn your shortstops from your pitchers as the Rockford Peaches come together to play in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. With the men off at war and the country badly in need of some inspiration, women are pouring in from across the country to chase their dreams. Front and center are two players: Carson Shaw (Abbi Jacobson), a small-town housewife who becomes a catcher for the Rockford Peaches and Maxine Chapman (Chanté Adams), a Black pitcher barred from even trying out for the league due to some classic American racism. Through them and an all-star roster of women — including a very compelling Roberta Colindrez and a scene-stealing D'Arcy Carden — comes a story of passion, community and, of course, professional baseball.

Why it's essential viewing

I shouldn't really need to pitch you on "A League of Their Own" because in a lot of ways, it's nothing we haven't seen a million times before: a team of scrappy underdogs coming together because they all share a common passion — bumping heads, sparking tension, and bringing out the worst in each other until they come to their senses and realize that they can bring out the best. From "Ted Lasso" and "Haikyu!!" to the 1992 film it shares a name with, "A League of Their Own" is takes that outline and reminds us why it works so damn well. But what makes this show an absolute must-see is all the ways that it departs from that mold; for all that it shares with popular sports stories across film and TV, the Prime Video series is also exceptionally different.

The most obvious aspect that sets "A League of Their Own" apart from other sports-centered narratives is the fact that many of its main characters (yes, more than one!) are queer. In fact, the series centers an entire spectrum of queer experiences and builds them into the foundations of the narrative. Historically speaking, this makes a lot of sense: many of the actual Rockford Peaches (who serve as inspiration for the story) were queer women. But that certainly didn't stop the '92 film from leaving this key detail out completely.

This new adaptation comes from Abbi Jacobson ("Broad City") and Will Graham (who made "Mozart in the Jungle" and is not a "Hannibal" character), and the duo have taken it upon themselves to grapple with the biggest blindspots of the Penny Marshall film: sexuality and race.

Finding community in baseball

Sexuality and race are two things that couldn't possibly go unaddressed in a 2022 series about the Rockford Peaches, but that almost makes it sound obligatory. "A League of Their Own" isn't just checking those boxes off, it's making them the point of the story. How else could we get a character like Bertie — a Black, gender-nonconforming, trans community leader who opens up an entirely new world to Maxine?

This isn't a coming out story in the traditional sense, although it happens to include many characters coming to terms with their sexuality — speaking it aloud for the first time and even beginning new relationships. "A League of Their Own" is more about the process of coming into community, as the players come together to discover just how much they have in common. And while baseball season may come to an end, the relationships they forge will alter the courses of their lives forever. This is one of those ensemble shows where 15 different characters deserve the spotlight because they're each bringing something unique to the table — and "A League of Their Own" reserves ample time to let them each shine.

Maxine Chapman, all-American hero

While the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League becomes a haven for some, it shuts its doors on others: a rookie she may be, Maxine Chapman has one hell of an arm. She's a wildly talented pitcher and proves it at the league tryout session to no avail. It's the 1940s, and Max doesn't fit the all-American look that they're after. So she has to find an alternate path to her dream.

Max's story was always bound to strike a chord in my soul: a Black woman chasing her passion and coming to terms with her sexuality while living in fear about losing her family in the process? I was doomed from the start. But I also entered with some trepidation that Max' story would take a backseat to the Peaches. Or that she would be an attempt to course-correct a story that when initially told, ignored race completely. Or worse, that her eventual success would only come to be because of what the Peaches could offer her.

But to my amazement, this story swerves past any possibility of white savior bulls***: forming a friendship with Carson doesn't mean that Max needs her to chase her dreams. She has the agency to shape her own story — to choose whether she pursues baseball or leaves it behind. And to figure out how best to embrace her identity and who to share the journey with. It's a messy journey to say the least but when Max finally does break through, it's because she's ready. And because she gets help from a member of her own community — a queer Black woman who sees her.

Actually, there's lots of crying in baseball

In a very similar way, the ladies of the Rockford Peaches aren't saved by Nick Offerman's Coach Dove, a washed-up pitcher coasting off a single legendary story. Carson is the one who steps up to actually coach her fellow teammates, Dale Dickey's Beverly reveals herself to be more of an ally than a chaperone, and everyone else finds ways to nurture one another.

Rookies will try to tell you that "there's no crying in baseball," but those fools obviously haven't spent any time with 2022's take on the Rockford Peaches. When each of these scrappy individuals first show up for tryouts, they hope to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing professional baseball. Over the course of eight episodes, they discover all the ways that following your heart can be both heartbreaking and invigorating. I challenge you to spend eight 45-minute episodes watching these women toil away at practice, perfect their pitches and solidify their teamwork — if you can do all that without shedding a single tear, then I'll be somewhere between impressed and terrified by your resolve.