Penny Marshall’s 1992 classic, A League Of Their Own, is getting an updated TV adaptation, inviting a new generation of women to lean into the beloved story. Like the film, the Prime Video series is set amid the Second World War and centers on several women with aspirations of playing for the Rockford, Illinois Peaches, an All-American Women Professional Baseball team.
However, the television version of A League of Their Own explores the women’s lives well beyond the field. Chanté Adams and Abbi Jacobson lead the series as Maxine and Carson. The first two episodes of the series were screened at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and Shadow and Act was on hand for the screening and discussion with Adams and co-creator Will Graham.
This is why Prime Video’s A League Of Their Own is a throwback for today:
Chanté Adams’ character Maxine is based on three real-life Black women.
Maxine is based on Mamie Johnson, Toni Stone, and Connie Morgan. These three Black women baseball players went on to play in the Negro League. These trailblazers were the first women to ever play in professional baseball leagues.
A League of Their Own is not trauma porn.
Though the series does not shy away from racism, sexism, and homophobia, triumph, and joy — specifically, Black joy — is also front and center.
Female friendship is a cornerstone of the series.
Along with Adams and Jacobson, D’Arcy Carden, Gbemisola Ikumelo, and Roberta Colindre also star in the series, among several others. Despite the competitive nature of baseball, female friendships are central here, especially between Maxine and her best friend, Clance (Ikumelo).
Chanté Adams embellished the truth when she told the casting directors she could play baseball.
Co-creators and executive producers Graham and Jacobson quickly learned that Adams’ baseball skills were below average. Luckily, Prime Video employed Justine Siegal, Major League Baseball’s first female coach, to train her and sharpen her skills before and during filming.
“Our director of the first three episodes, Jamie Babbit will say how she was always yelling behind the camera, ‘You’re too graceful,'” Adams explained. I’m a dancer, and I was a cheerleader for 10 years and so I would be trying to pitch, but my toe would be pointing.”
A League Of Their Own was filmed in Pittsburgh.
Though set in the city of Rockford, the series was actually shot in Pittsburgh, where the cast bonded throughout the four-month shoot.
Will Graham interviewed several elderly Black women who live in Rockford, Illinois.
The Great Migration plays a significant role in the series. To understand the Black community of Rockford during the 1940s, Graham meticulously interviewed several Black women in their 80s and 90s who lived there during the time and still live in the community.
The central theme of A League of Their Own is teams.
The series’ theme is teams and Adams and Jacobson share the number one spot on the call sheet. It’s not simply the Peaches who are a team, but the show also explores how teamwork can be found in families, friendships, and romantic relationships. “This is a show about teams,” Graham said. “That can mean a lot of different things in life. It can mean your sports team, it can mean your family, and it can mean your community. I knew from the start because I am a white man that this show was only going to be able to be written and realized by a team. And that was the way to get to the best version of this show. There’s more than one writer here. There’s more than one way of looking at these characters in these stories and we want to open up space for that.”
A League of Their Own debuted at American Black Film Festival on June 18, 2022. The series will premiere on Prime Video, on August 12.
Aramide A. Tinubu is a film critic, consultant and entertainment editor. As a journalist, her work has been published in Netflix’s Tudum, EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or A Word With Aramide or tweet her @wordwitharamide.