Pitch Threw a Screwball Into My Heart
On the outside of studio lots they have billboards advertising their TV shows and movies. Sometimes they advertise things that aren't even filmed there (Sony has billboards for Outlander, and I'm not sure what, if any, part of Outlander is made in Culver City), but typically it's like, "Look what we're making in here! Go spend money on it!" On the outside of the Fox lot they have a bunch of small billboards, and then one huge billboard that advertises the Hot Property of the moment. Around July this year the big billboard was this one for Pitch.
I drive by Fox semi-regularly, and every time I saw that huge billboard I did a little dance in my seat and yelled, "YAAAAS!" As you may have deduced, Pitch was the one new fall show I was super excited about. Now that the first season is over, I can safely say that it not only lived up to my expectations, it exceeded them. Pitch is the greatest, and if you didn't watch, now is the perfect time to correct your horrible mistake.
Pitch centers on Ginny Baker, the first woman to play on a Major League Baseball team. She's a pitcher, and is notable for her screwball - which I knew nothing about, but my friend Ian (who also watched Pitch) explained it to me in a very cool, non-mansplainy way, and now I feel very knowledgeable and hip. Thanks Ian! Through flashbacks you see Ginny learn the screwball from her father, work her way up through the minors and eventually be discovered by her agent, played by Ali Larter, who vows to Ginny she can get her to the Majors. One of the cool things about Pitch is that it's co-produced by the MLB, so they get to use real team names, and there are cameos from actual sportscasters and personalities. If this show were on a network other than Fox, you can bet Ginny would be playing for the San Diego Perros instead of the Padres.
Ginny's catcher and the captain of the team is Mike Lawson, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar. First of all, his character sports the most heinous yet character/MLB appropriate beard you will ever see. Second, his storyline is about how he's nearing retirement and before he leaves the game he wants to win a World Series... so he wants to be traded to the Chicago Cubs. And no one questions him. They're all like, "Well, yeah, sure, if you wanna win a World Series I guess that's what you've gotta do." SURE MIKE. Go to the team that is known for being cursed. That has gone longer than any other team in the league without winning a World Series title. I tried to decipher if the show was trying to make a joke out of this, because this year the Cubs did break the curse, and did win the World Series, but it seems like these episodes would have had to have been written before then. They make a little joke about it later in the show, after the Cubs won, but still, it drove me insane that no one brought up the sheer madness of this plan.
The other main player that we follow throughout Pitch is Ginny's longtime friend and former minor league teammate Blip. He and his wife Evelyn are Ginny's only real friends in San Diego, so she leans on them a lot. Evelyn is a real girly girl and is Ginny's coach for when she has to gussy up for red carpet events, and Blip is her connection to "the old days" even though they're both major league ball players now. Also, Blip and Evelyn are a total power couple. I love when they cut to Evelyn intensely watching the games in the lounge - she could totally be a Victoria Beckham type and make Blip a superstar.
Apart from the players and Ginny's PR team, you also get to see what goes on in Padres management. The manager of the Padres is played by none other than Papa Arnold, Dan Lauria, and he's perfectly cast. Just gruff enough, just kind enough. There's an episode where he makes a sexist comment about Ginny and it causes a fracas and Ginny defends him, and it's handled so unexpectedly and interestingly. I really like the way the show deals with the inherent issues of Ginny being the sole woman in a world completely dominated by men. It's simultaneously important that her womanhood be recognized, but also just as important that it be ignored. Pitch delves into those issues while also being a fun show about baseball, and having juicy storylines about hookups and interpersonal drama. It has EVERYTHING.
I could tell you more (like how Pitch passes the Bechdel test AND the Duvernay test!), but we don't have all week . I will leave you with just one more rave about Pitch: Kylie Bunbury's performance, to gleefully/embarrassingly use a baseball analogy, knocks it out of the park. The only other actress I can think to compare her to on TV right now is Gina Rodriguez. Do you know how when you watch Gina Rodriguez on Jane the Virgin, and if she tears up for any reason, you tear up too? It's this innate ability to completely control your emotions and make you me RIGHT THERE with her in that moment? Kylie Bunbury has that. There's an episode where Ginny basically goes rogue and runs away from all her commitments, and she ends up in a bathtub, crying about how she just can't handle all the pressure that's been put on her, and guys, I was crying too, as if I was in the bathtub with her. I'm pretty sure I've teared up during all ten episodes of Pitch, because they do things like show little girls holding signs that say, "I'm next!"
They show a fan-made (in the show universe) video asking that Ginny be put on the All-Star team and that made me cry. At the beginning of the finale they say that Ginny is on her way to pitching a no-hitter and I teared up and said, "Oh man, I'm gonna cry if she does it and I'm gonna cry if she doesn't."
Every episode of Pitch's ten episode first season is available on Hulu now. I think it's the perfect show to binge over the holidays while you nosh on some tasty treats and chill in your sweatpants and wooly socks. There won't be any posts here next week, because I'll be spending time with family forcing my loved ones to watch Pitch, their new favorite show. There's a chance Pitch may not be renewed for a second season, so please, please, watch this amazing show. If it gets cancelled I can totally see it becoming one of those one season wonders that ends up on Netflix with reviews like "How did I miss this?" and "Oh no! There's only one season! Boo!" Now's the time to take action! Watch Pitch. Love Pitch. Save Pitch!