Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Pitch takes a few swings at backstory

Kylie Bunbury
Kylie Bunbury / Ray Mickshaw, Fox

If the first episode of Pitch was about learning a somewhat facile reason for why Ginny Baker is as motivated as she is, the second episode is mostly about learning the same thing about the two most important people in her life. As in Ginny’s case, it’s information unpacked a little too hastily.

Take Amelia, for instance. We know she used to work with celebrities and she knows nothing about baseball, but the flashback we get about her life doesn’t exactly clarify what drew her to Ginny, other than a desire to do something different with her life. Her husband brutally dumps her after the end of an unsuccessful fertility session, and that alone is apparently enough for her to be done with the entire celebrity industry. And not to cast doubt on her abilities, but switching from movies to baseball doesn’t seem like exactly the same skill set. At least she had enough savings for the TWO YEARS she spent helping Ginny get to the major leagues. It’s less clear what Eliot lived on for that time period, nor is it clear why he followed Amelia, but we’re going to let it pass because of that ridiculous goldfish/Jerry Maguire homage.

Mike’s backstory makes a little more sense, though his sudden disgust about having spent his life being a star baseball player is a little…out of left field, shall we say? (I’m sorry. I’m sorry.) Still, once we saw JoAnna Garcia Swisher pop up on screen, it was clear she would play some larger role (the in-joke about her being a baseball player’s wife is a nice touch). And even without the surprise of her being Mike’s ex, it was good to see the show addressing difficult issues around women and sports.

The sexual assault story and Ginny’s response to it are not handled exactly gracefully—we don’t get quite enough detail on the scandal to understand why it’s such huge news—but it does provide another way to show the line she has to straddle. Someone like her can’t ever just be. Whether she wants to have an opinion about the safety of women in sports, she’s expected to have one, and to express it articulately. That she does so in her first talk show appearance is a bit much (even actors are nervous the first time they go on talk shows), but as a way for her to assert her independence from Amelia, it works.

The idea of Mike and Amelia hooking up, as is suggested at the end of the episode, is an interesting jolt of tension, if a little early in the show’s run. Also, given the somewhat hasty background we just got on each of them, it was a bit of a stretch that the two of them would do anything to jeopardize with their relationship with Ginny, particularly Amelia, whose whole life is Ginny right now.

And yet somehow, despite the speedy characterization attempts, it all more or less holds together. The A plot, following Ginny’s attempts to toe the impossible line of condemning certain male behaviors, but letting the casual sexism of her coach go, worked pretty well. This is hardly specific to the world of Major League Baseball—it’s hard to imagine a woman in the country who hasn’t at one time or another had to think about whether to let gross male behavior go just this one time—but it’s clearly something Ginny is going to have to battle more or less constantly. And for every step forward, like going out for drinks and dancing with the guys or connecting emotionally with her coach, there’s one step back, like when that same coach immediately makes another gross remark.


If anything, Pitch so far is suffering from an excess of ambition in its first episodes, due partly to the fact that there’s quite a lot to mine here. If it can focus in on a few of those things at a time instead of everything at once, the dramatic beats will start landing a lot more smoothly. This week’s baseball metaphor: Advance the runner, don’t always swing for the fences.

Stray observations

  • There was a nice little touch of realism between the two scenes of Al apologizing. To Ginny, he says, “I’m sorry IF I offended you,” the preferred apology of someone who won’t make himself think about why what he did was wrong. But when he’s reading the apology the team wrote for him, it’s a firm, “I apologize to those whom I offended.”
  • Not totally sure where things are going with Blip and Evelyn, but at least there are two people on this show who are reasonably happy.
  • Really liked the “Uber” joke. The occasions when this show lands clever setups are giving me hope.
  • General Manager Oscar spent this episode on a different show than everyone else, but it’s one I would watch. The joking/not joking around about his background with his rich white boss and the suggestion that mercy is useless in his industry are both more solid character work than what we got with Mike and Amelia.
  • First A League of Their Own reference? But let’s hope not the last.