Amazon is removing A League of Their Own from its scripted lineup.
The retail giant and streamer has reversed course and canceled the queer-themed reboot of Penny Marshall’s 1992 film after previously renewing the series for a four-episode second and final season. Sources say Sony Pictures Television, which produces the show, plans to shop League with the hopes that the series can find a new home for season two. Scripts for all four episodes of what was planned to be the conclusion of the series were completed before the Writers Guild of America went on strike May 2.
The decision to cancel the series from co-creators/showrunners Will Graham and Abbi Jacobson (who also starred) comes as Hollywood’s first dual strikes since the 1960s has brought production to a standstill. Graham and Jacobson fought to get the series a second season as Amazon and producers Sony Pictures Television negotiated to lower the show’s licensing fee. Writing and preproduction for the four-episode “limited series” started in the spring and was derailed as writers and performers seek fair wages from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
Reps for Amazon note that the strikes would have delayed the arrival of the series — along with the also un-renewed The Peripheral — to 2025, when the subscription platform already has a heavy roster of originals.
In the works since early 2018, Graham recruited Jacobson (Broad City) for the more modern take on Penny Marshall’s beloved 1992 feature film that starred Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Hanks. Graham and Jacobson received Marshall’s blessing on their updated take before she died. The duo also recruited several members of the former AAGPBL to serve as advisers — including the legendary Maybelle Blair, who at age 95 came out as gay during the press tour for the show.
The series starring Jacobson, D’Arcy Carden, Chante Adams, Melanie Field and Kate Berlant builds on the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them nods to sexuality and racism that were briefly featured in Marshall’s movie. In addition to featuring stories of queer players from the league, the Amazon take also examined the plight of Black women who were not permitted to join the league and were part of another contingent of teams that traveled the country.
The eight-episode first season bowed at once in August to positive reviews; it currently boasts a 94 percent rating among critics and 87 percent score with viewers on Rotten Tomatoes. The show also has earned recognition from GLAAD (outstanding new TV series), the Independent Spirit Awards (for supporting actress Gbemisola Ikumelo) and the NAACP Image Awards (costume design). It was also honored by the Critics Choice Association, earning the women’s committee seal of female empowerment in entertainment, the National Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign, and the Voice and Visibility Award from the National Council of La Raza.
As THR reported earlier this year, several insiders at the streamer said its reliance on testing and data led to a clash last summer between Graham and marketing execs after data showed audiences found League’s queer stories off-putting and suggested downplaying those themes in materials promoting the show. Graham expressed concern about bias built into Amazon’s system for evaluating shows, which multiple sources said often ranked broad series featuring straight, white male leads above all others. According to the report, Amazon took the issue seriously and dropped the system of ranking shows based on audience scores.