This has been an excellent year for rookie television shows looking to make their mark right away. And in this strong crop of first-season shows, it might be easy for a good one to slip through the cracks.
Pitch is one of the good ones. FOX’s drama about the first woman to play for Major League Baseball (MLB) has been getting lost in the Thursday-night shuffle; it’s on a night that puts it in direct competition with NFL games and ABC’s monster TGIT lineup—not to mention actual MLB games at this time of year.
Luckily, Pitch is going on a one-week hiatus while FOX airs its version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show this Thursday night. That gives you plenty of time to watch the first four episodes (which are all available on Hulu or FOX’s website) before the next one airs October 27 at 9 p.m. I know there is a lot of television to watch nowadays, but Pitch is something special. It was one of the shows I was most looking forward to watching this season, and it has so far surpassed all my expectations to become one of the new shows I’m happiest to recommend to anyone who will listen. So whether you’re a diehard sports fan or someone who doesn’t know a screwball from a screwdriver, here are 10 reasons you should give Pitch a chance to work its way into your heart—and your TV schedule.
1. There’s nothing else like it on television.
Sometimes flipping through TV channels or scrolling on streaming services can feel repetitive: procedurals, superhero shows, “tough guy/girl with a heart of gold” dramas, comedies about dysfunctional but loving families…But Pitch is something totally new. It’s a show about a woman doing something that’s never been done before, and, as such, it’s something we’ve never seen on television before. From the diversity of its cast to the topics it tackles to the realism that comes from its partnership with the MLB, Pitch is something truly unique.
2. It’ll remind you why you love sports…
Pitch realistically presents problems professional athletes have—the way their bodies break down; the way they are often at the mercy of groups of rich, old, white people who could trade them or fire them any day; the sacrifices they make for the game when it comes to their personal relationships—but it never loses sight of the fact that there is something beautiful and mythic about sports, especially baseball. To love baseball is to appreciate it as part of a uniquely American mythology, so Ginny Baker is more than just a baseball player to those who watch the show and love the sport; she’s a mythic hero. It’s impossible to watch her record her first strikeout without getting goosebumps and remembering why you first fell in love with sports and all the hope and excitement wrapped up in sports fandom. The details of the game are fun to notice in each episode, but what really makes Pitch a treat for sports fans is the way it gets to the emotional core of why we love the games we love—because they give us heroes, they remind us to dream big, and they make us feel like we can be part of something special.
3. …But it still has a lot to love if sports aren’t your thing.
If you don’t like sports, Pitch may not seem like the show for you, but that’s where you’re wrong. The great thing about sports movies and television shows is that they remind us that the thrill of victory and agony of defeat are universal concepts; you don’t have to be an athlete or even a sports fan to know how great it feels to achieve a dream, how painful it is to fail, or how much fun it is to be part of a team. Pitch is about more than just baseball; it’s about the triumphs and tragedies that transcend sports. It’s about what it means to be a woman in a world where everyone wants a say in your life. It’s about getting older and being afraid of an uncertain future. And it’s about relationships—old ones that made us who we are and new ones that show us who we can become. You don’t have to care about Ginny’s ERA (or even know what an ERA is) to care about her story.
4. You’ll fall in love with Ginny Baker.
If you’re looking for a new female character to admire and adore, look no further than Ginny Baker. In order for Pitch to work, Ginny had to be a character audiences could instantly love, and I think it’s physically impossible not be utterly captivated by Kylie Bunbury. But what’s especially great about Ginny—especially considering the show is only four episodes old—is that she’s not just a one-note, “strong female character.” She is incredibly complex. In the pilot, she described herself as “a robot in cleats, and I’m malfunctioning” (with heartbreaking desperation by Bunbury), and that one line had me hooked; I had to know more about her. And I have loved seeing every layer exposed so far: the pitcher who just wants to play ball, the public figure who speaks out about rape on national television, the daughter forced to choose between two parents (and between her dreams and a normal life), the face of a brand who has to carefully control everything about herself—from what she says to who she loves, and the young woman who dances with abandon to her favorite songs and smiles from ear to ear when her catcher makes her laugh. Ginny feels like a real woman already, and that’s what makes her story even more inspirational.
5. The supporting characters are more than just stereotypes—they have their own stories to tell.
Ginny isn’t the only character who is far more than one-dimensional. Pitch is populated with a group of supporting characters who could have been written without much nuance, but have instead become complex and compelling in their own right. Ginny’s agent Amelia might have seemed like the typical “badass in heels” type in the pilot, but a look into her past revealed the heartbreaking reason she’s thrown everything she has into helping Ginny succeed. Manager Al could have been written as a one-note “old-school sexist,” but he’s grown into a character who clearly cares about Ginny and all of his players with the kind of sincerity only the great Dan Lauria can bring to a role. Even general manager Oscar has a compelling backstory. And then there’s Ginny’s friend Evelyn Sanders, who could have been the stereotypical “baseball wife” without much substance, but whose heartbreaking speech about what she has done for her family in the show’s fourth episode gave her the kind of depth that most shows struggle to give a supporting female character. Finally, the show’s leading male character, catcher Mike Lawson, is a walking contradiction in the best possible way. He’s an apparent fan of no-strings-attached sex who actually misses having someone to talk to at night since his ex-wife cheated on him. He loves the game, but his body is betraying him. And he claims to be an narcissistic superstar but spends most of his time telling people how great Ginny is. Mark-Paul Gosselaar is doing excellent work in this role, handling the nuances of this character with effortless charm. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun to have a bit of a crush on him again after years of Zack Morris worship as a child.
6. It already has one of the best marriages on television.
Strong, honest, loving marriages are a hard thing to find on any television show, but Pitch has managed to create one in just four episodes. Evelyn and Blip Sanders are the definition of “#relationshipgoals.” They’re sweet, sexy, and perfectly playful together, and Mo McRae and Meagan Holder’s chemistry is off the charts. But what I love most about them is that they have already been allowed to weather conflicts together; their marriage isn’t without struggles (such is the reality of being married to a professional athlete), but the love between them and the choice they have made to always honor that love feels so genuine. They talk through their problems, they acknowledge when they mess up, and they clearly adore each other and their kids. It’s also nice to see that Ginny has never been presented as a threat to their marriage. She is a friend to both Blip and Evelyn, and I love the refreshing lack of clichéd drama in that dynamic.
7. There’s something special about Ginny and Mike.
If you have a soft spot for relationships between strong, independent women and men who openly respect and love them for their strength, then make some room in your fangirl heart for Ginny Baker and Mike Lawson. Bunbury and Gosselaar are fantastic scene partners, infusing every moment between their characters with a depth of caring that has already put tears in my eyes more than once. They are each other’s biggest fans, and the warm affection developing between them took me by surprise in the best possible way. Theirs is a dynamic based on mutual respect, trust, and the ability to make each other smile and laugh, and that is a recipe for a pretty perfect partnership.
8. It’s not afraid to get real—and really emotional.
Pitch is an emotionally honest show. It’s not afraid to depict how much of a toll chasing one dream for your whole life can take on you and those around you. It’s not afraid to present people working through grief, infidelity, infertility, job insecurity, and a myriad of other relatable struggles. And it’s not afraid to show Ginny’s journey to be accepted as a professional pitcher as it really would be, which is messy. Ginny deals with sexist comments, impostor syndrome, exhausting personal and professional pressures, and the sad reality that she has to be careful in every moment of her life because one mistake would reflect poorly on her whole gender. But by showing us all the messy realities of this life for Ginny and those around her, it allows us to appreciate moments of goodness and growth even more. And it allows us to care with a depth that I wasn’t expecting to feel this early on in my viewing. This show wears its heart on its sleeve, and it celebrates good people trying their best to live their dream. That’s an admirable thing to do in a media landscape that often tries too hard to be cynical and dark.
9. It looks and sounds like a movie.
The Pitch pilot was the best-looking pilot I saw this season. It had a cinematic quality to it that made it stand out. As the show has continued, I’m still impressed by the production values, but I’m most impressed by the music. The scoring and song choices in each episode have been fantastic. It’s also been fun to see the scenes shot on location at Petco Park, which add a sense of authenticity to the show thanks to its relationship with the MLB.
10. It matters.
Representation matters. When we see people like us do amazing things, it becomes easier for us to believe we can do amazing things. When we see our stories reflected in the media we consume, it makes us feel like our stories are valid—like they’re worth telling and living out to their fullest. Ginny Baker may not be real, but her story could be in the future. And the fact that she exists right now on a primetime television show makes that future even more likely. Because young women and young men are watching this show, and they’re seeing a woman follow her dreams all the way to the male-dominated world of the MLB. They’re seeing her earn her place through hard work, and they’re seeing her find support and respect from the men around her. It’s no secret that it’s been a demoralizing week or so to be a woman in the United States, and that’s why I’m feeling even more passionate than usual about the need for shows like Pitch: shows that celebrate what women can accomplish professionally, shows that treat women—especially women of color—as people and not objects, and shows that feature men who treat women with respect. And if you need any more evidence that Ginny Baker matters, this video says it better than I ever could: