Abbi Jacobson and Will Graham did not want to try to remake Penny Marshall’s 1992 film “A League of Their Own.” Their plan from the very start was to use the movie as an inspiration for their series of the same name for the streaming service Prime Video.
Both the feature film and the new TV series look at the establishment of an all-female baseball league in the 1940s. The league was created because so many men were involved in the war effort at the time.
Jacobson says, “We were really leaning into a lot of the stories that were overlooked in the film and could not be told in a two-hour time frame. We felt it was very important to open up the lens and show the real stories of this generation of women playing baseball.
“The more research we did, the more we uncovered. The juicier and exciting it got and the characters started to come to life.”
How these stories will unfold can be seen starting Aug. 12 when all eight episodes in the first season will be available. While there is a team full of stories to be told, the main examination of race and sexuality issues will be through Carson (Abbi Jacobson) and Max (Chanté Adams), two women looking to find themselves on and off the baseball diamond.
Jacobson comes to “A League of Their Own” after a highly successful run as the co-creator, writer, director, executive producer and star of “Broad City.” Her other credits include “BoJack Horseman” and “Disenchantment.”
Marshall’s film focused on the creation of the women’s baseball league, a rivalry between sisters and the redemption of a former baseball great. That left little time to specifically deal with the personal lives of the women in terms of their sexuality.
Jacobson took advantage of the eight hours for the first season to dig deeper into that area.
“The film is like this iconic gay film but that is something that is not talked about in the film,” Jacobson says. “It is only alluded to and hinted at. It just happens to be loved by the Queer culture.
“It is this connecting point for people who have found their community finally. That felt like such a part of the film that was not leaned into. Queer people have always been around but there are not a lot of stories about what that was like in 1943.”
The reason Graham and Jacobson opted to use the Marshall film as an inspiration rather than just recast new actors to play the same characters brought to life in the movie through Geena Davis, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell was out of respect for the original production.
Graham says, “We have this great love of the movie and felt like the world didn’t need that again. The movie was based on this incredible true story of 800 women who played in the AAGPBL (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) and thousands who played outside of it.
“It almost would have seemed weird to go back to those exact same characters because there are so many real stories underneath it. We wanted to communicate our love for the movie but trying to do something different.”
Executive producer Desta Tedros Reff adds that everyone involved felt “an honor and responsibility” in taking the story that has had such a big following and expanding it into more and deeper territories. She stresses that no one wanted to do a reboot but wanted to capture the spirit of the original film.
Another big change from the film is that the streaming service series will dive deeper into race issues through the character of Max as played by Chanté Adams. Max has a cannon for an arm but she’s denied the opportunity to try out for the new league because of the color of her skin.
The characters played by Jacobson and Adams come from very different backgrounds but are dealing with the same issues. Both are being pushed back from trying to be the real person they want to be. The fact the series deals so heavily with the subject of race is very important to Adams.
She says, “If we are going to make a project that is about a generation of women who played baseball we have to include the other women who were not included in the film.”
Before becoming a member of the “A League of Their Own” team, Adams starred opposite Michael B. Jordan in the 2021 Christmas film, “A Journal for Jordan.” She recently appeared on Broadway in “Skeleton Crew.”
The cast of “A League of Their Own” also includes D’Arcy Carden, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Roberta Colindrez, Nick Offerman, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Kate Berlant, Kendall Johnson, Kelly McCormack, Alex Désert, Priscilla Delgado, Aaron Jennings, Molly Ephraim, Melanie Field and Dale Dickey.