Amazon‘s A League of Their Own will reportedly conclude after a truncated four-episode season, wrapping up the story for an early cancellation. It’s a better result than we see for many streaming shows, yet it’s still deeply frustrating to the show’s fanbase, who embraced the historical baseball drama as a rare beacon of queer positivity.
Based on the 1992 movie about a women’s baseball league in the 1940s, Amazon’s A League of Their Own expanded the story to include queer and nonwhite characters. This makes its cancellation doubly controversial, as there’s a widespread perception that streaming services are failing to support shows about queer women.
Speaking out about the cancellation on Twitter, co-creator Will Graham intimated that this wasn’t a ratings issue, saying, “#ALeagueOfTheirOwn is not a small or niche show. The audience is domestic, but our understanding is that it’s very big.”
Graham added that the four-episode season news wasn’t “official,” suggesting that Amazon might listen to pressure from a fan campaign. And A League of Their Own fans are already getting vocal, demanding more episodes and praising the show’s impact as a diverse queer drama.
A League of Their Own‘s fanbase is, in a word, intense. We’ve seen this kind of renewal campaign ramp up many times before, but there’s a particularly personal edge to the anger aimed at Amazon today.
Over the past few years, there’s been an uptick in queer programming, but a lot of these shows don’t last more than one or two seasons. This has led to a widespread belief that while streaming services will greenlight so-called “diverse” shows, they struggle to promote this content or engage with their audience. And on the occasions when these shows do take off in a big way, like A League of Their Own and Our Flag Means Death, popularity still doesn’t guarantee longevity.
We saw a similar controversy unfold around First Kill last year—a teen vampire show with lesbian leads, which seemingly had better ratings than other Netflix dramas that got renewed. It’s one of several WLW-led shows canceled by Netflix after one or two seasons.
Looking at the reactions to ALOTO‘s four-episode renewal, there’s a pessimistic undertone to people’s frustration, with queer TV fans expressing a grim lack of surprise that Amazon canceled the show.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, ALOTO‘s four-episode conclusion can partly be blamed on licensing negotiations with Sony Pictures, which controls the rights to the original film. Amazon wanted to reduce the show’s price tag including its licensing fee, and while these behind-the-scenes machinations are likely more complicated than “Amazon is homophobic,” budgetary conflicts are unlikely to hold much weight with ALOTO fans. After all, Amazon is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into projects like Rings of Power and the upcoming spy thriller Citadel—the latter of which has already been renewed for a second season, before Amazon has any idea if audiences are actually interested in season 1.