A League of Their Own (2022-)

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Most of us here at Frock Flicks have been on-record as hating the current trend of endless remakes and retreads of the same stories in movies and TV. Whether it’s yet another adaption of a beloved but none-the-less overdone classic novel or a supposed retelling of the same old bits of history or, worst of all, the gritty reboot. So I was trepidatious about Amazon’s TV series version of A League of Their Own (2022-). I enjoyed but am not precious about the 1992 movie, yet I wasn’t sure of the need to revisit this story. Oh boy, was I wrong, and am I glad to have been!

This isn’t really a remake or adaption — what the TV series of A League of Their Own does is take the concept and setting of the movie A League of Their Own and put in all new characters and stories. Because this is an eight-part series (so far), there’s space to tell multiple stories instead of just one arc. While the show has a lot of characters, they’re each well-fleshed out individuals that are slowly revealed over the course of the episodes. Some are more complicated than others but they all feel believable and interesting. The cast is excellent, and I really enjoyed watching them as these characters working through their problems and finding their way.

Much of the story is about personal discovery, within the larger frames of racism, sexism, and homophobia. That could be dark or heavy-handed, but it didn’t seem that way to me. Everything that happens has an appropriate historical context and resonates emotionally in the story. It’s well balanced. And it’s fun! There’s some snappy dialog (yes, some is rather modern but not in a “he’s a 10, I never trust a 10” way, whew), and so many fantastic scenes of female camaraderie, on the ball field and off. I can’t think of the last time I watched something where so many women onscreen were real friends, deep friends, silly friends, and more. This is the female representation we need, Hollywood! Actual women being actually human with each other. It does happen now, and I bet it did happen in the 1940s, so I’m glad to see it here.

When the advance press for this series showed up, there were some complaints about Black characters being added when the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), upon which the story centers, was whites-only. Some thought that Black women playing baseball wasn’t historically accurate, oh noes! how dare! it’s all a woke plot! blah blah blah. Well those whiners should watch the series and shut the fuck up because that’s not what happens at all. There are two main storylines that run in parallel and intersect at points. For that matter, there were several Black women who played baseball in the Negro Leagues from the 1930s through the 1950s, so this show is working with a historical precedent. Oh and seven women from Cuba played in the AAGPBL, so the series is reasonably accurate on that point too.

A League of Their Own (2022)

Max shows up at the AAGPBL tryouts with Clance — & is rudely turned away.

What’s more interesting, IMO, and even more historically accurate, is that this TV show adds back the queer women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that the 1992 movie left out. The whole reason the league wanted its players to wear skirts and makeup and go to charm school was so they didn’t “look” like lesbians, but the fact is that many were. Maybelle Blair, pitcher for the AAGPBL’s Peoria Redwings in 1948, said recently: “Out of 650, I bet you 400 was gay.” Netflix’s documentary A Secret Love (2020) is all about Terry Donahue, also of the Peoria Redwings, finally marrying her life-long partner, Pat Henschel, who she met back when playing baseball. Josephine “JoJo” D’Angelo, who played on the AAGPBL’s South Bend Blue Socks from 1943-44, was dropped from the team because she got her hair cut too short and thus it was too obvious that she was a lesbian. There’s countless more real stories of queer women in 1940s baseball, and with this version of A League of Their Own, we’re finally seeing them onscreen. If anyone dares call it “agenda-pushing,” they just need to look to the history first, the history that’s been hidden, denied, and overwritten. #SorryNotSorry that it’s out in the open now!

Not only is the story based in history, the costuming is solidly of the period. I discussed the AAGPBL baseball uniforms, and specifically the Rockford Peaches, in my review of the 1992 movie, and all that applies here. Costume designers Trayce Gigi Field and Nancy Steiner (who designed the pilot episode) reproduced those uniforms well. They also created nice 1940s wardrobes for each character and a town full of extras that brings the era to life. I love looking in the stands at the baseball games and seeing folks wearing hats! Many of the main characters wear hats when not in uniform as well, and those who don’t are specifically the less femme characters. As Trayce Gigi Field told Fashionista: “They each have their own look and vibe. I was trying to give all the characters their own individuality.”

In Variety, Field talks about how she designed the wardrobe of each character according to their story arc. For Carson Shaw, the Iowa housewife who becomes the team’s coach:

“We went with hints of pinks, soft green and a little bit of brown. She wasn’t overpowering in her color. She was in a role that she thought she filled. As the show progresses, she becomes more carefree.”

A League of Their Own (2022)

Carson & Greta early in the series. Also check out the print dress & hairstyle of the woman in the background.

A League of Their Own (2022)

Greta & Carson help Jess through the required ‘charm school’ for the team. Nice variety of prints & details on their dresses.

Max Chapman, a Black woman who’s trapped by family obligations, goes through a more dramatic progression. Field said to Fashionista: “Max is trying to fit into a box of who she’s ‘supposed’ to be — what her mom wants her to be.” Her clothes start very plain and tailored, then Field says in Variety:  “Max wears dresses that start to have more detail, and by the end, she’s starting to feel herself.”

A League of Their Own (2022)

Clance & Max working at the factory.

A League of Their Own (2022)

Max at a party later in the series as she begins to express herself.

Max’s best friend Clance Morgan is an aspiring comic-book illustrator, and in Fashionista, Field says of her: “She’s my fashion-forward girl, in terms of not conforming to fashion norms [of the era].” The bold graphic prints she wears are meant to evoke her passion — “”If you look close enough, [the print] looks like a comic strip.”

A League of Their Own (2022)

Clance in a print dress.

Field also used vintage clothing throughout the series, noting: “If it’s actually from the ’40s and it’s not disintegrating, let’s use it.”

I don’t really want to talk more about the plot or even more of the costume specifics because that could give away some very interesting things that happen. I just hope folks watch it and enjoy seeing these characters figure out their lives! Feel free to dish some spoilery talk in the comments though ;)

 

Have you watched the new A League of Their Own series?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

17 Responses

  1. Rebecca

    Your review has made me go seek this out! And it has Janet from The Good Place so now I’m really in!

    Reply
  2. Mary

    The original movie is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I always wanted more of their stories. So I’m very excited about this series!!

    Reply
  3. hsc

    “…there were several Black women who played baseball in the Negro Leagues from the 1930s through the 1950s…”

    “Toni” Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, and Cnnie Morgan of the Indianapolis Clowns really deserve a good biopic or series of their own!

    But it’s good to at least see a nod to the presence of Black women in baseball and showing the color barrier in the AAGPBL.

    A shame this is on Amazon, because I won’t get to see it!

    Reply
  4. Yen

    We absolutely love this show (I’m a sucker for the movie as well, but this is even better. Definitely going as Greta this Halloween!

    Reply
  5. Lily Lotus Rose

    Thank you for this review. I was one of the people concerned by the presence of Black women in the trailer because I thought it was going to try to create some sort of fake kumbaya past. So, I’m happy to see the color line being addressed in historically accurate ways, not only because of “accuracy” but because of stories related dealing with racism and baseball from my own family history from some of my older relatives. Like many people here, I really loved the 90s movie, and this series seemed like if might tarnish the shine from that one, which like someone else said, is one of my favorites. Because of this review, I’m actually going to watch it now.

    Reply
  6. Saraquill

    It has Abbi Jacobson in it, I’ll have to remember to give it a watch.

    Also, if pants, makeup and a lack of charm make someone a lesbian, does that mean my love of skirts, dislike of makeup and casual manners make me bi? (end sarcasm)

    Reply
  7. Zara

    No comments on the hair? From what I’ve seen it’s sad, limp beachy wave territory.

    Reply
    • Katherine

      I had the same thought. The hair seems generally more 40s on the background and Max’s circle, so I assumed it was a case of production wanting to make the Peaches “relatable” with modern hair.

      But!! When I went and looked at photos of AAGPBL players, quite a few of them had similar hair—a vague attempt at curls, slap on a cap and call it good—even on picture day. There’s a photo of Lucille Richards of the Racine Bells with hair almost exactly like Carson’s. So I think using hair to communicate that these women are not performing femininity in the way they’re “supposed” to is done here in a way that’s a lot more historically consistent than, e.g., having a regency heroine run around with loose hair.

      Doesn’t stop me from wanting more fancy styles to look at though!

      Reply
  8. Cindy

    Thank you for this! I’m not usually a fan of reboots and remakes but your article convinced me to check this out!

    Reply
  9. Kaite Fink

    Enjoying it so far! And hooooo, boy, that was some ‘night terror!’ I can’t wait to see where all the storylines go. It isn’t a re-do of the beloved movie. And I mean that in the best way possible.

    Reply
  10. Theresa

    I loved this show! From the acting to the writing to the costumes. I think it’s brilliant and unlike anything I have watched lately.

    Reply
  11. Frances Germeshausen

    Big fan of the original film here, and I’m really enjoying this new take. I love the winks and nods to the film (they even got in “there’s no crying in baseball”), and the richer portrayal of women’s lives at the time. Plus, the vintage clothing is AMAZING. It makes me happy to see so many great print dress, even on plus-sized women.

    Reply
  12. Amy

    I loved the show and the costuming. I would like to point out that Carson is from Idaho. Not Iowa. Also, not a farm.

    Reply

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