Sex and the City. Desperate Housewives. Girls.
Q: What do these shows all have in common?
A: They are all wonderful, female-driven TV shows that I don’t relate to, at all.
In fact, it seems like all TV networks have some inexplicable, paralysing fear of showing girls being physically kick-ass — unless it’s justified by some far-out premise, like they’re a super-trio of witches (Charmed), or the one chosen conqueror of supernatural evil (Buffy, Sleepy Hollow), or a ~superhero~, à la Jessica Jones or Supergirl. There’s also the ever so popular niche category of female superspies who have undergone some over-the-top, pervasive training and usually some traumatic experience that has emotionally damaged or stunted them in some way (Alias, Dark Angel, Nikita). Networks love these types of shows, and it’s no coincidence that every single one of these inevitably features multiple scenes in which the female superspy lead has to don a form-fitting, body-hugging, or straight up revealing outfit. Because undercover espionage.
Those are the only occasions in which a female is allowed to be physically badass.
But the everyday woman?
The everyday woman works in a colourfully quirky or excessively boring office. The everyday woman meets up with her everyday women friends for champagne brunches or cocktails at a bar. The everyday woman builds her friendships with other women through complaining about her job, or her boss, or her co-workers, or — and this is a clear favourite of TV writers — her relationship drama.
As for the everyday girl?
The everyday girl wakes up every morning, hair and makeup already perfectly done, but sometimes a few minutes past her alarm so we can relate.
The everyday girl is almost always in a rush, so she usually throws on the first thing she finds in her closet, which just somehow always ends up being, by some completely unexpected coincidence, a perfectly coordinated, matched outfit.
The everyday girl meets up with her everyday girl friends on the school yard or in the hallways, and talks about whether or not she’s going to go for that party on Friday night because I heard Kelly might be there, and me and Kelly aren’t talking anymore since she became a cheerleader and popular.
By the way, I’m willing to bet good money that throughout that entire description, the everyday girl you were picturing had white skin.
That’s not the life I had growing up. Not even close.
But the message from TV execs is clear: Everyday girls are strong, and beautiful — but they don’t kick ass on a physical playing field.
This is why Pitch is so important.
For those of you who have yet to hear of Pitch, the show is about Ginny Baker, the first woman to join the ranks of Major League Baseball. Even though Ginny Baker isn’t actually real, I felt absolutely compelled to follow her story. An everyday female stepping up to a physical playing field that’s not only real (i.e. not made-up), but is also dominated by men, and not only holding her own, but excelling? That’s literally never happened in the history of ever.
Stop giving me show after show about a minimally diversified group of girls working in an office, or coming to a bar for cocktails every week, or being called a bitch for rising in the ranks of their specialised, niche field, or spending half their time just dealing with ~relationship drama~.
Give me a bunch of Caucasian/Latina/Asian straight/bisexual/lesbian/pansexual girls coming together and getting down and dirty with a hard ass sport.
Trans girls. Black girls. Brown girls. Tall girls. Short girls. Skinny girls. Muscular girls. Rich girls. Girls who can’t even afford to eat lunch every day. Girls who struggle to figure themselves out, who they are, and where they fit in. Girls who don’t struggle with that at all, and are completely comfortable in their own skin.
All of these girls, from every walk of life imaginable, coming together week after week to train together, to play hard together, to push their bodies to their physical and mental limits together for no other reason besides the fact that they all love the same game.
Imagine that. Imagine the beauty of all that un-sameness, all that diversity, coming together to completely slay at a team sport. These girls, with different skin colours, different family backgrounds, different beliefs and values, different economic statuses, different personal and social identities — all these different girls, who put on the same jerseys for two hours and fucking S L A Y.
Watching Viola Davis burn her way through a rainforest of fragile male egos on How to Get Away with Murder is entertaining and impressive, yes.
But you know what would be truly amazing?
Watching a whole team of different, differentiated girls learn from each other, help and support each other, guide each other, and become a family — all while dominating on a physical playing field.
I want Gossip Girl, but instead of clubbing and drinking and throwing expensive, alcohol-soaked parties, when the last bell rings, these pristine, private school girls trade in their skirts and knee-high socks for jerseys and cleats, and charge out onto a soccer field.
I want One Tree Hill, but instead of Peyton, Haley and Brooke cheering Lucas and Scott on from the sidelines with their bouncy ponytails and bouncier pom-poms, I want them to be sweating it out on the court, training for their own upcoming championship games.
I want all the gritty, raw intensity of Orange Is the New Black freed from its Litchfield prison, and translated onto a varsity hockey pitch, a basketball court, a soccer field.
I want Friday Night Lights, but with an all-girls team.
The day I will be happy is the day a show like Pitch stops being important, or unique, or noteworthy.
Because — and take note, TV execs — everyday girls are strong, and beautiful, and we kick ass on every playing field, physical or otherwise.
You can find out more about Mel on her author page.