As you will very soon see, I am a woman who is not afraid to gush when a TV show comes along that strikes me as incredibly special. And with the premiere of Fox's new series Pitch, I have found such a show.
In full disclosure, I have been looking forward to this premiere for weeks, but not everyone at SheKnows had the same enthusiasm (they all tuned in, though, and now are just as obsessed). I grew up playing baseball with my brother and his friends and then played softball at a very competitive level. I often dreamed of breaking the kind of barriers Pitch's femtagonist, Ginny Baker, does by becoming the first woman in the Major Leagues.
When I found out Mark-Paul Gosselaar was also in the series — as a hunky bearded catcher, no less! — it was icing on the cake. I grew up during the heyday of Zack Morris, so I've been slightly stalkerish about Gosselaar's career over the years.
Happily, Pitch did not disappoint. It addressed gender bias in a way that was both brutally honest and culturally relevant. It wasn't "preachy" or condescending. It simply painted a very real portrait of what it might be like if a woman was to actually get called up to the Major Leagues today.
Actually, in that respect, the show probably could have been a bit preachier. If Baker was a real MLB player and not a fictionalized character, we would probably have seen an endless stream of sexist commentary on social media. The treatment she received in the locker room would likely have been more offensive.
Still, the fact that Fox is starting a narrative like this is so important. As the mother of a young daughter, it's critical to me that girls have strong female characters on TV and in film to aspire to. The fact that this woman is a barrier-breaker in more ways than one — the first woman in the MLB and an African-American woman — sends a powerful message to little girls who dare to dream.
And do you know a pleasantly surprising trend I picked up on?
The series seems to resonate with people who have a very diverse cross-section of interests. Feminists are celebrating the small win of getting such an emblematic character onscreen. Baseball lovers are tuning in because, well, the show is rooted in the baseball world. Hell, even my husband is hooked. He's from San Diego and he's pumped his Padres are getting some solid screen time.
Men and women alike are weighing in on Pitch and, so far, seem to approve. So what's the problem? Right now, there isn't one. The show is off to a swimming start.
Here's my concern, though: This is a show of substance. It may not have the flash of some of the other primetime series on the air, but it is a show that truly speaks to something bigger. Historically, as TV ratings go, such shows don't always fare well.
Let's not let this show fall to the wayside. OK, ladies (and gents)? Not only is it a big win for us to have a woman like Ginny Baker on our television screens, but it's a big win for our daughters (and sons) too. The more we see shows that feature women in roles outside of traditional gender tropes, the more likely it is the next generation will get female characters that actually encompass the complexity of women.
If we want Hollywood to play ball, we've gotta come off the bench and go to bat for shows like Pitch. Who's with me? I'm not above shamelessly plugging the fact that Zack Morris, er, Mark-Paul Gosselaar is fantastic in this series, too. Whatever it takes, people! We just need to tune in.
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