Why A League of Their Own Deserves a Fighting Chance 

by Theo Alvarez 

A League of Their Own (2022), a reimagining of the 1992 film, tells stories the media has consistently ignored. Based on a true story—women playing in professional baseball leagues during World War II—the original film was already a hit because it celebrated women’s athletic achievements. Unfortunately, only white heterosexual women were in the story, severely limiting its scope.

This time around, the narrative focus on queer women, women of color and the myriad ways their lives overlap. Here’s the best part: the show features a varied cast of lesbian characters.

Queer Representation 

The Rockford Peaches standing in a huddle while singing gleefully in A League of Their Own.

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN. Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

The series discusses compulsory heterosexuality in a parallel way between the protagonists, Carson (Abbi Jacobson) and Max (Chanté Adams), who have different journeys but points of similarity. Carson is a white married woman from Idaho. She’s incredibly attracted to Greta (D’Arcy Carden), a tall, redhead femme who already knows she’s a lesbian but does everything to hide it. 

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Max is a Black woman who doesn’t get to be on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) because they only accept white and white-passing women. In her journey to playing in a league, she reconnects with her Uncle Bertie (Lea Robinson), a trans man, whom her mother pretends doesn’t exist. Max meets a Black femme named Esther (Andia Winslow) at one of his parties, who plays for a professional Black league.

Although Carson and Max’s lives are a lot different, they both struggle to accept they’re queer and bond over that. They initially meet because Max witnesses Carson and Greta’s first kiss. Carson tries to make sure Max won’t tell everyone about it. They become friends. It’s an unusual friendship since, in 1943, Black and white people didn’t mix, but it’s earnest.

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While Max explicitly says she doesn’t like men, Carson loves her husband (Patrick J. Adams). However, she loves Greta, too. Fans are split on whether she’s a lesbian (and her love for her husband is platonic) or bisexual. Nevertheless, she’s queer either way.

Varied Gender Expressions

Jess and Lupe look pensive and irritated at something off screen on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 6 "Stealing Home."

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Kelly McCormack as Jess McCready and Roberta Colindrez as Lupe Garcia — Season 1 Episode 6, “Stealing Home.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

This series shows lesbians who live in different ways. Some live their sexuality freely (as much as possible). Some do everything to hide who they are. There are lesbians with different gender expressions, from femme to butch, and those who do not fit into either box.

Examples of this are the supporting characters, such as Jo (Melanie Field), Greta’s best friend who is a fat butch; Jess (Kelly McCormack), a Canadian butch who doesn’t give a f*ck about hiding who she is; and Lupe (Roberta Colindrez), a Mexican butch who’s not well-liked by the rest of the team apart from Jess.

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Other guest characters are lesbians as well, such as the twin sisters, who are Carson’s fans. There’s the queer bar owner, Vi (Rosie O’Donnell), who was in the original film, and her wife, Edie (Stephanie Erb). The story is deeply about women, for women and primarily by women. In a patriarchal world, stories are always made by men, with men receiving prestige and starring roles. A League of Their Own serves as a refreshing oasis of female empowerment.

Max Chapman 

Max smiles while standing outside in an off-white blouse on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 7 "Full Count."

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Chante Adams as Max Chapman — Season 1 Episode 7, “Full Count.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Max Chapman is probably the person I relate to the most. I am not Black, and I will not pretend to understand what it means to have your dreams crushed because of your skin color. So, I don’t relate to this part of Max’s journey.

However, her journey with lesbianism is one I understand. We don’t see her first time with a woman like we do with Carson since she’s already having sex with one of the married women in her church. She tries to sleep with Gary (Kendall Johnson), someone everyone can imagine her with.

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After overhearing her mom and dad talking about her being an “invert,” she tries to sleep with him anyway. She’s disgusted by it. Max asks Carson how she can imagine being with her husband after being with Greta. Fighting compulsory heterosexuality is not easy. Sometimes, even when you have experiences with women, you still hope to eventually fall in love with a man. Being with women was a “phase,” or even though you’re still attracted to them, it doesn’t matter because you also like men. 

I can relate to that a lot. I spent a long time trying to convince myself I also liked men, even if I knew my attraction to women would never pass. There was a chance for me to be in a straight relationship. Therefore, I could hide the part of myself my parents disapproved of so much. It didn’t work, of course, as it didn’t for Max.

Different Types of Queerness 

Carson and Lupe sit at a table while listening to someone speak on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 5 "Back Footed."

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Abbi Jacobson as Carson Shaw and Roberta Colindrez as Lupe Garcia — Season 1 Episode 5, “Back Footed.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

This show’s characters are extremely important and have vastly different backgrounds that help people relate to and learn with them. Abbi Jacobson told Gay Times the show needed to represent “different types” of queerness.

“I felt like we were telling stories of the women that have not been told, and it felt like a great honor and responsibility to do it and have it nuanced, meaty and juicy,” she said. “It was exciting to get to tell all those stories.”

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Lesbians take center stage, unlike other shows, where they are often the supporting cast. The show completely flips the script, where white couples are the norm and lesbians are stereotypically feminine—where there’s only one couple or no romance develops between lesbian characters. Additionally, women are the protagonists, antagonists, and primary characters in the series.

Amazon Cancellation 

Chante Adams as Max Chapman and Gbemisola Ikumelo as Clance Morgan, standing in a baseball field while looking apprehensive on A League of Their Own.

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Chante Adams as Max Chapman and Gbemisola Ikumelo as Clance Morgan. Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

We’ve never had our stories told with so many lesbian/sapphic characters except in The L Word and Orange Is the New Black, which I consider to be separate cases. Unfortunately, like many others that year (i.e., Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies and Willow), Amazon canceled the series after its first season. Initially, the streamer renewed it for a four-episode Season 2 and then canceled it.

The first series to be canceled because of the Hollywood strikes included many LGBTQ+ and non-white characters. In addition to campaigning for another streaming service to pick it up, we can see its impact even with one season.

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At first, the fans made a lot of effort to ensure Amazon renewed it. There was “Power Hour,” which involved tweeting daily for an hour using #ALeagueOfTheirOwn and #RenewALOTO. Then, fans sent a plane over Amazon Studios with a message to renew ALOTO. After its initial renewal, fans added the #MoreThanFour hashtag.

Now, fans continue with “Power Hour” but aim to get a streaming service to save the show and give it a new home. It’s been almost two years, and the fandom is alive and well. Fanfics are written daily about it, fancams are edited and so on.

Some people tweet every day during “Power Hour.” One Twitter user, @jules_rockwater, has been tweeting the same thing since the cancellation. It shows a lot of commitment and love for the show.

Why It’s Important to Fans 

Carson Shaw and Greta Gill talk at a bar on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 1 "Batter Up."

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Abbi Jacobson as Carson Shaw and D’Arcy Carden as Greta Gill — Season 1 Episode 1, “Batter Up.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

I asked fans of the show why A League of Their Own is so important, and their answers were all amazing. You can see them below: 

“#ALeagueOfTheirOwn truly means the world to me. It’s a life-changing show, and the representation is off the charts. I never saw myself in a character until Carson Shaw. The writing is phenomenal. I love how it’s so unapologetically queer. It’s become my comfort show,” said @Emily_Breeden.

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“As a plus-size butch, representation often means being the butt of a joke. But with ALOTO, it didn’t leave me feeling like a clown. It left me feeling beautiful and strong and loved. That is one of the many reasons the show is important to me,” said @maddieEarp817.

Community 

“This show gave me community. It gave me the courage to look inside myself and realize I’m NB. My wife and family have been so supportive of my journey. It’s my comfort show. I watch it and see a happy ending finally for queer people, even though it can be scary at times (bar raid ep). I see characters I finally relate to — I see diversity.

This show is everything; the stories shown and told throughout deserve the chance to expand. It’s not even just the queer stories, either. The racial history and differences between the peaches storyline and Max and Clance. Hell, include Jo’s story outside of her and Greta. Lupe has to be the ‘Spanish’ striker. Every character is important,” said @Mack_0204. They added, “Also … D’Arcy Carden has already said that the Season 2 story is so beautiful and needs to be told even if not on screen. So, let’s have it!!”

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Inner Conflict 

Chante Adams a Max Chapman, standing in a dimly lit home while smiling and holding a beer bottle on A League of Their Own.

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Chante Adams as Max Chapman — Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

“The aspect of A League of Their Own that resonated most deeply with me was Max’s conflict with her mother’s expectations and judgment. I thought, ‘If only a show like this had existed in the ‘90s when I was a teenager, it could’ve helped me so much!’ That scene where Toni and Edgar are flustered about the prospect of Max being an ‘invert,’ not knowing that Max overheard them, is an experience that so many queer people have endured in some form.

Seeing Max’s facial expression, how hurt she was … not only would it have given queer kids a character to identify with, but it also might have helped some straight parents understand how hurtful they could be to their own children. And it’s all done in a way that doesn’t preach or finger-wag. It’s so incredibly well written and acted; it just imbues the viewer with insight and empathy. It’s so real!” — @CallRelish

ALOTO is so important for a multitude of reasons, but I think the biggest is that it sheds light on not only the history of the LGBTQ+ community and the women in it but also people of color and their journeys. It tells real stories while giving representation to those who need it. It’s important to me because I truly believe people deserve to have their stories told and to be able to see themselves in the characters on the screen. Representation matters, and I’m tired of POC and LGBTQIA+ stories being ignored,” said @trshmthkell

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They Just Are 

“Though I read there was a lesbian interest in it, we all have been queerbaited for so many years; why bother watching because the lesbian storyline is just going to be a side thing, or something bad will happen, etc. Abbi Jacobson was familiar, but I didn’t know who she was or what she was known for. I didn’t bother to watch—my mistake. When I watched it for the first time, I was on alert. Well, I didn’t even have to get through the first episode to be blown away by just how queer this show was going to be. […] Furthermore the show doesn’t talk about how characters are lesbian/queer or not, they just ARE. An important distinction,” said @glo_hawk.

I Felt Seen 

Carson stands in the kitchen in a green dress while looking shocked on A League of Their Own Season 1 Episode 7 "Full Count."

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN — Abbi Jacobson as Carson Shaw — Season 1 Episode 7, “Full Count.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

“I’ll say that I originally wanted nothing to do with it. I heard it would be a different take on the classic ’90s movie, and I was like, ‘Jesus, not another reboot or remake — Hollywood, just stop.’ I grew up on the movie, and I was like, ‘How dare [they] touch the classics?’ Then, one night, while the people I was dating were on vacation, I watched it, and by 4 am (mind you, I had work at 10 am), I was sobbing uncontrollably.

I had gotten up to the bar raid. It was the best show I had ever watched, and I’ve never felt more seen. Almost a month after watching it, I had the courage to leave the very bad relationship I was in. That courage came from watching Carson’s story, where she found the courage to leave her husband to play professional baseball. And a month after I did that, I met my future wife. I always tell my wife that ALOTO is the reason we met. Also, my hometown is known for its peach festival every Labor Day, so the Rockford Peaches have always had my heart,” said @peachybeehive.

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It Changed My Life 

“Since the show came out, it changed my life in a really good way. I made new friends, joined some nice groups and started writing again. You might have read Never Ending Love. Without this show, I would have never had those friends and the fun that came with it. Through the show, I now have two new fave actresses, and I follow them through and through. Very excited to hopefully meet them one day. I’ve been reposting and talking with many people about how and what we can do to save ALOTO. I will continue to do so even after that. I love ALOTO and the people who came with it into my life. And that will never change,” said @darcy_gill09 in my DMs. 

A League of Their Own is currently streaming on Prime Video

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