What makes a really great television series? A relatable protagonist? A loveable, charismatic cast? A compelling plot? FOX’s new hit drama, Pitch, has all of this and so much more. Forced to compete with the notoriously hard to beat Shondaland Thursday slot, Pitch is a series that brings a fresh perspective to the age old question: What does it mean to throw like a girl? The series centers around Genevieve “Ginny” Baker (Kylie Bunbury), a 25-year-old pitcher picked out of the minors to play for the struggling San Diego Padres. Not only does Ginny have to battle stereotypes associated with women in sports, she must also learn to cope with the limelight when all she really wants is to blend in “with the boys.” Aided by an initially apprehensive, yet passionate team, Ginny learns about the pressures of stardom and what it means to have a family unit. With official support from the MLB, Pitch offers an incredibly realistic approach to its storytelling. Not only does the cast sport authentic team jerseys and equipment, many of the game scenes take place at many of the official stadiums. For a moment, you may forget that you’re watching a scripted show and not a docu-drama.
As someone who’s been following Kylie Bunbury’s career for a few years, this girl believes this role was well deserved. Before starring in Pitch, Bunbury co-starred in the short lived ABC Family (I mean— “Freeform”) drama, Twisted (don’t watch it, unless you like being angry). Though she received a lot of critical praise for her role as the popular-but-guarded Lacey Porter, the writers unfortunately chose to downgrade her role for reasons unknown. The show was cancelled, but maybe it was a blessing in disguise. On a personal level, it’s hard not to fall in love with Kylie Bunbury as Ginny Baker. Burnbury brings strength, vulnerability, and charm to a character that would otherwise be written as the stereotypical tomboy. Critically praised, Bunbury gives her all to make Ginny a realistic, three-dimensional character. Dedicated to her craft, Bunbury trained for two-and-a-half months in an effort to understand the ins and outs of being a pitcher for a major league team.
With all of this information, there are always a few questions about whether or not the show is worth watching if someone isn’t interested in baseball. The short answer? Yes. The long answer? Pitch has often been compared to the popular NBC drama Friday Night Lights, in that the show may be centered around the sport, but that isn’t the sole focus. Sure, a few episodes may throw in jargon that only the die-hard baseball fans would easily understand, but Pitch is gracious in its storytelling. Instead of alienating those of us who know nothing about the sport, Pitch will break down the significance of certain events in a realistic way. The writers successfully accomplish this through either an outside character who isn’t as involved in the baseball world, or through context clues. In one episode entitled “Alfonzo Guzman-Chavez,” Pitch goes in depth with the drama behind draft picks. Now…to the outside world, drafts don’t seem like that big of a deal. To us, it just means that a player moves from one team to another. But Pitch expertly forces us to humanize these players. Not only are they being forced to uproot their lives and move (sometimes across the country), drafts can break up a bond that players have with their teammates. When we learn to love the members of the Padres, there is a bit of anxiety when the draft comes up and we’re forced to care about whether someone leaves (hint: someone does, and it’s actually kind of sad).
With all of this being said, Pitch has the heart and passion that draws the viewer in. Despite critical acclaim, Pitch has had a pretty low viewership. It’s depressing, considering how much we lack sports shows that are all about women, include diverse casts, and allow the women to have strong interpersonal relationships. If someone who has trust issues with television can enjoy this show (thanks a lot, Glee!), anyone can.
Author’s Note: Fox has all episodes of Pitch up on its website. The finale airs on Thursday, December 1, 2016 @ 9:00 PM. The entire cast is wonderfully charming, and you’ll quickly fall in love with every single one. Give it a chance!