Six Week Checkup, Pitch Edition
Paul Archuleta/ Emma McIntyre/ Getty Images
Have you been wondering how you’re feeling about Pitch? A little bit, right? You enjoy watching it while it’s on, and you like it while you’re watching it, but you can’t exactly call it one of your favourite shows, even though you’d love to, right?
I feel the same way. I can’t fix the way you feel, but I can explain why it’s coming down the way it is. I have a lot of things about the show I wish were different, while still being delighted by lots of it.
Everyone glosses over how well the show’s made. The real Padres field, and the endorsements and players and logos being real, makes me feel like the stakes are high – and I’m a huge fan of the music, the juxtaposition of classical with the sweat-and-tears drama. There’s not a single technical flaw with the production.
Nor with the actors, I should say. Every last one of them is pretty fantastic, (with two notable exceptions I’ll get to in a minute.) Kylie Bunbury is an understated revelation, unflinchingly present even when the script holds her back to being just an observer. I’m only human like the rest of you, so I will take Dan Lauria any time I can get him, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar is…well, he is the surprising subject of the great Taha crush of Fall 2016, first of all – I can’t get enough – but separate from that, he’s doing a great job at playing a realistic old hand in the locker room, even when he has to call the guys ‘brats’ instead of ‘f*cking dicks’ like he would if this weren’t network television. Blip and his wife are real people, too; the charisma of all the actors we know about, at least on the field, is essential and doesn’t disappoint.
But I struggle to stay interested in Oscar the GM or Amelia the agent, mostly because I can’t shake the feeling that they were cast to be the pretty people, instead of actually imbuing their characters. Now it could be that since they’re playing suits so they don’t have characterization, and I can see that being Ginny’s perspective, but then…don’t try to get me to care about them in lengthy subplots, even ones where Oscar’s assistant is consistently awesome. I know there’s an upstairs downstairs aspect here – that what happens in the office affects the players – but Ginny is so utterly concerned with the field, as she should be, that Mark Consuelos on the phone is just a distraction.
Having Ginny be just a member of the team is the whole point. She wants to be treated just like one of the team, she doesn’t date teammates, and she doesn’t get involved in drama. It’s her credo, her code of ethics. She’s a figurehead as much as a person.
That makes perfect sense for the only female member of a baseball team, but it’s a tough role for the lead character on a drama. Yes, things happen to her (*cough* two car accidents in five episodes cough) but mostly they happen around her, like her best friend might get traded or her agent is secretly sleeping with her catcher, rather than when she’s actively making choices that drive the story. Either that, or we look back on her earlier life, when things were still allowed to happen to Ginny.
I want to be clear that I don’t disagree with this from a characterization point of view. That is, I think if you had your eye on the prize and only on the prize for your entire life, you would eliminate everything else – friends, romance, drama. The most recent episode deals with this, where Ginny goes rogue for a night…but there are no real consequences, and a whole team of people ready to help her clean it up, whose job it is to clean it up, to keep Ginny unblemished.
If Ginny can’t mess up, she’s not the center of the show. But every time she does mess up, it’s not permanent, because if it was, it would be a declaration about what it means to be a woman in baseball.
The good news is that I think the show knows this, and it’s about to have a point of view. I hope they get there in time to retain the viewers they were working so hard to get, by proving to us the show wasn’t going to be about how hard it was to be a girl in a man’s world and not just about baseball, in case you hated baseball. But now that it’s proved it could, theoretically, be lots of things to lots of people, it’s time to start actually being a show that’s about Ginny, and about her actually having a life, not just tiptoeing through one.
I still love the show, I just want to be addicted to it, rather than a casual observer. I hope you feel the same way so it sticks around – and digs in.