Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
Pitch S1E1: Pilot | Thursdays at 9 pm | FOX | Starring: Kylie Bunbury, Michael Beach, Mo McRae, Mark Paul-Gosselaar, Ali Larter, Mark Consuelos
If you haven’t heard about Pitch you’ve probably been living under a rock (or focused on all the great summer television so I’ll give you a pass this time). FOX has put a surprising amount of marketing behind this show about the first woman baseball player to be called up to the major leagues. This is a show unlike anything on the FOX slate and yet in our current climate, this is a story that we’ve all been waiting to hear. And coming off an Olympics where Black women dominated, the character of Ginny Baker, played by breakout star Kylie Bunbury, is just a continuation of the #blackgirlmagic that’s been on display all summer.
Bunbury plays Ginny Baker, a girl who’s been bred by her father (Beach) to be a baseball player. Throughout the episode, the show flashes back to Ginny’s childhood with her overbearing father pushing her to succeed. The episode’s most heartwarming and heartbreaking scenes come from their interactions. We see a young Ginny constantly seeking approval from her father, saying “We did it Pop!” only to receive a terse “We ain’t done nothing yet” in reply.
Compounding her need for fatherly approval is the entire world with their eyes on the rookie pitcher. Her first game is sold to the rafters with little girls who see themselves in her while at the same time every sports pundit is decrying her as gimmick. It’s an insane amount of pressure and even her oversized headphones can’t drown out the critics.
Ginny has few allies. A friend from the minors Blip Sanders (McRae) and his wife are standing beside her. There’s also the aging, superstar catcher Mike Lawson (Gosselaar) who goes from detractor to mentor. And there’s her agent, Amelia Slater (Larter) who sees Ginny as both a cash cow and a groundbreaker. As she says, Ginny is a “Kardashian with a skill set”. It will be interesting to watch these relationships develop, because while Ginny needs all the support she can get, no one is without an agenda.
- Kylie Bunbury leaps off screen. You believe she can stand her ground against these ball players. She’s goes from focused to vulnerable in 5 seconds flat and she’s put on the muscle to convincingly play an athlete.
- That ending. It will leave you wanting more.
- The supporting cast is strong and for actors who are generally known to be in lighter fare, they are showing wonderful dramatic chops. Larter, Gosselaar, Consuelos are all known for their work in the late ’90s on sitcoms, soaps, and teen movies. It’s great to see them in these roles.
- The cinematography is gorgeous. In this golden age of television, the quality of filming has upped considerably as we’ve discussed with Queen Sugar, but I truly believe lighting for Black actors has created a richer tone to what we see onscreen.
- Having Ginny play for an actual existing team really grounds the show. It’s filmed in Petco Park when the Padres aren’t in town.
- In the scene where Ginny triumphs, they are beating the San Francisco Giants. That was my only complaint. Our team hasn’t been doing good this season so I got salty.
Pitch delivers on every front. The story is straightforward and uplifting, Bunbury’s performance grips the audience, and in an era where I can’t believe firsts like this are still happening, the concept is well-timed. I also really enjoyed that the show isn’t afraid to show Ginny fail. She’s not a superhuman ballplayer. She’s good at what she does but she has her limits. There’s a lot of places this story can go and I’m eager to see what happens next.
Watch This If You Like: Movies like Angels in the Outfield or 42, or women-led dramas.
Don’t Watch This If: You’re one of those people that thinks a woman or person of color excelling is just a gimmick or affirmative action.
Project Fandom will have weekly reviews of Pitch starting with episode 2 this week.