'A League of Their Own' And The Case For More Female Sports Comedies
Look, I'm not going to lie to you. Yes, it's been a minute, but I am still not and probably will never be over the fact they canceled GLOW. You know, the brilliant Netflix comedy with Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin as two of many women trying to make it in the heydays of '80s wrestling. It had consistently high ratings, won many awards, and, again, starred the incredible Betty Gilpin. She's so damn good, and so was the show, but then COVID-19 happened and Netflix pulled the plug on our cosplaying glam girls to instead do a thousand more Ryan Murphy shows for some inexplicable reason.
Sure, shows don't last forever, and we can get a new comedy series about women trying to make it in some sport historically dominated by men — or so my therapist tells me, at least. So, let's see what else there is then, shall we? For one limited series, Netflix gave us Anya Taylor-Joy's pouty face playing chess with all the men (and drinking like them). But, aside from her haircut, it wasn't a comedy, so it doesn't count. Okay, comedy shows … mmm. We got Amazon's A League of Their Own series this year. It's funny, it's well-made, and it feels like they took the vibe of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel but replaced the stand-up angst with baseball angst.
The debut season did well, with most critics and viewers raving about the show's humor, the natural acting, and the great all-around production of the 1992 comedy movie remake. Which is strange, then, that Amazon didn't immediately order a second season. Some might argue that it's all a numbers game, but on its weekend debut, the 'women in baseball and also war' show jumped to the top of the streamer's most-watched series list, beating both The Boys and The Terminal List. According to analytics, the show has a 90% higher demand than all other comedy titles in the U.S. right now.
Considering that we're not exactly drowning in all-women sports comedies at the moment, you'd think that a top-rated show featuring women doing the literal splits to catch those baseballs would at least keep tapping into the market hungry for series like this. Because we're ravenous, people, and we're also tired of having to rewatch Whip It and the five other female sports comedies for the umpteenth time to get our fix.
It's not like comedies featuring a sport played by women do poorly, either. On the contrary, if you look at the movies and shows about female sports in any genre, the comedies — which include the 1992 A League of Their Own, Bring It On, and Bend It Like Beckham — top almost every freaking list. Even when they don't, those lists often still contain more comedies than dramas. They're all quite legendary, but there are just way too few of them.
Why do we not have a comedy show about young girls playing hockey and dealing with their puberty/parental-induced anger issues? Where's the satire comedy featuring women in basketball and what it's like dealing with all those tall jokes? Who here would not enjoy watching Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne star in a Blades of Glory-type tennis doubles comedy? After all, Bridesmaids gave us a taste of just that, and it was glorious.
Soccer is, by far, the biggest sport to tap into, but there are so many other avenues to explore and portray on screen. Give me volleyball comedy; give me rowing team politics. Give me weird fencing humor, and women in archery jokes. Hell, give me a "Horse Girl" black comedy about dressage and what it's like to have a horse with hair better than yours. The possibilities are endless, and it's kind of sad that there seemingly aren't more screenwriters and filmmakers interested in giving us girls or women sweating it out on screen for our laughing entertainment.
Then again, they do say, "write what you'd want to see." So please, excuse me — I have an idea about an all-female midwestern cosplaying bowling team to get to.
Zanandi is, regrettably, still on Twitter.