Friday, September 23, 2016

SRPS TV Night: Pitch

I don't usually watch live TV. And I rarely watch TV at night. I'm a fan of catching up the next day or so via streaming or DVR. So, staying up to watch a TV show as it's being broadcast is reserved for the very best shows -- the shows I'm too excited about to wait even a few hours to watch.

So when I said I was going to stay up and watch Pitch last night at 9 o'clock -- when I'm typically ensconced in my nightly bath -- my husband was a bit surprised. To be honest, I was a little worried it wouldn't be worth the special treatment. Well... that worry was gone after the opening few minutes, when it was clear this was something special. By the first commercial break, I was "all in."

The real life build up for this show has been pretty much like the on-screen build up we see for Ginny's first pitch. At every turn in the first 20 minutes of the show, Ginny is inundated with reminders of the importance of her position and the sheer number of people who are either placing their own hopes on her, or are just waiting for her to fail to justify their own sexist beliefs.

That's a lot of weight to place on one person, or one show. In Ginny's case she flounders under this unfair burden. On the big day, with everyone watching, as you might expect, she has trouble focusing, distracted by thoughts of her father, the voices of her detractors, and her feelings of responsibility to the seemingly endless stream of young girls in the stands holding up "We're counting on you" signs.

I'm not going to spoil the show for you, but it's pretty obvious that eventually she does pull it together, with some help from some unexpected places as well as from some trust-worthy friends. And from her own sheer force of will, which, as we learn, she got from her father.

This is classic hero's journey stuff, and it makes for a fantastic emotional roller coaster ride. As much as I enjoy wish-fulfillment fiction, I have been craving a good hero's journey story with a kickass female lead. Seeing my heroes doing the hard work to overcome their challenges is the best source of inspiration for when I'm facing my own struggles.

For this show to be truly successful, we need to be emotionally invested in each of the characters -- love them or hate them -- and this pilot does exactly that, and perfectly so. We get to meet her teammates, her coach, her friends, and her father. We get to meet the people who've helped to make her who she is today through their love and support, or by their dismissal, or even out-right hate.

Honestly, I can't help but think of Ginny's struggles in this first episode as a kind of allegory for our expectations and reactions to this show, and on a broader scale, the often unrealistic responsibilities we place on anyone trying to break this kind of historic barrier. We have to acknowledge how our own hopes influence the way we view someone else's actions, and relax a little and give folks a little room to do what they're good at.
"You do this for you. You do this for your team or you don't go it all. Because you can't aim your pitches if you're aiming to please everyone." 
It is as true in life as it is on the pitcher's mound. After being totally wowed by the first episode, I'm hopeful that Pitch will live up to all of my baseball-loving expectations as well as my feminist hopes. We have a whole season to see how it goes. For now I'm going to relax a little and just enjoy the ride.

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