In the latest episode of Pitch, “Wear It,” Ginny signs an endorsement deal which brings some of her anxieties and self-doubt into focus. Ginny escapes her life for a night and tries to make up for lost time, living the life she envisioned that she would have if she went to college. There are consequences to Ginny letting her walls down, and it ends up becoming a question of whether or not she’s equipped to handle the pressure of being a pro baseball player. And it’s the men in the baseball club calling the shots. Ginny’s struggle in this regard isn’t just restricted to female athletes. It doesn’t matter how talented, gifted, or skilled a woman is in her chosen field, she is constantly held to high, almost impossible standards.
Pitch did a spectacular job of depicting workplace inequality, especially the additional scrutiny that professional women face that their male colleagues aren’t subjected to, and tackled it in a compelling way. With Kylie Bunbury’s fantastic performance and superb direction by Joanna Kerns, I think this has to be one of the most realistic depictions of that struggle that I’ve seen on TV.
“Seriously. No pressure.” – Ginny Baker after seeing her Nike ad.
Meanwhile, it’s been nothing but pressure for Ginny since childhood. From what we’ve seen, Ginny has never been able to just live her life since her dad discovered her talent and skill. When she has a panic attack and calls her agent, Amelia, in the middle of the night, it leads to some awkwardness with her co-workers — particularly her teammate Mike Lawson, who also happens to be seeing Amelia at the moment. The following day, when Ginny plays a bad game, Lawson treats her differently because he knows she had a panic attack. Although it may not have been his intention, there’s a sense that having a panic attack seen as a weakness on Ginny’s part, not because of the pressure she’s facing on the Padres, but because she’s a woman.
“I got in enough trouble for treating her differently.” – Al
It’s not just Mike being hyper-vigilant with Ginny. It’s also her coach, Al (Dan Lauria), and Padres GM, Oscar (Mark Consuelos). While Al comes across as overprotective, Oscar is smug. Their intentions may be good, but if this was one of the guys on the team acting the same way, it’d be dismissed as unwinding or blowing off steam. After some missteps, Al really seems to be the one trying to understand Ginny, not making sweeping generalizations about her based on her gender, and thinking she can’t handle being in the big leagues because she let off some steam.
“Would you be so concerned if Baker wasn’t a girl?” – Al
“Would you be so protective?” – Oscar
While yes, there are issues that Ginny should really talk to someone about — and she does, with Dr. Andrea Barton, played by Rita Wilson — I got the sense that the Padres organization wouldn’t have gotten so involved if it was a guy on the team exhibiting similar behavior. There’s no denying that Ginny had reached a breaking point and really needed to examine her life and career, but it was men deciding what she needed and when she needed it.
During the launch party for Ginny’s Nike campaign, she befriends one of the servers, Cara (Lyndsy Fonseca), and it leads to a night of letting loose and having some fun. It is a common TV and film trope for a person in a prominent position to escape and spend time with the “normal” folks (think Almost Famous or Roman Holiday), this storyline was handled in a way that didn’t feel exploitative. Ginny didn’t have much of a childhood. She didn’t get to be a teenager because baseball was her priority. She missed out on the college experience because she was drafted. After her night of not being Ginny Baker, professional athlete, she returns to work and faces the music. Again, if this was one of the guys on the team that went on an all-night bender, would they be brining in a therapist and basically staging an intervention? Probably not.
Women aren’t allowed to be flawed in the same ways that men can get away with. A woman is held to higher ethical and professional standards, and the only acceptable behavior is to be a saint with zero flaws. This conversation about inequality has never been more important than it is right now. The United States is a day away from the possibility of their first female president, and we’ve seen throughout this election just how every little move Hillary Clinton makes is called into question while excuses are made for the inexcusable actions of her male competitor.
The situation really is a catch-22. Professional women are not allowed to show vulnerability because it’s seen as weakness, not being qualified for the job, or not being able to “cut it.” Meanwhile, when a woman takes the steadfast approach and is more guarded — much like Ginny is most of the time on Pitch — she’s viewed as harsh, cold, a ‘bitch’ or even called ugly. No matter what a woman does, it’s never right in the eyes of the critics and the judgmental public. When all you are looking for is a person’s faults, that’s all you will see.
By the end of “Wear It,” another issue arises, but Ginny takes it all in stride from what she’s learned in dealing with the other issue. (Also, god forbid she be in a relationship with a player because it must be that she only did it to further her career, or she’s only playing ball to get a man. Those are subjects to tackle another day.)
In a way, this episode left me with a sense of frustration because of how real the portrayal of workplace inequality felt. If anything, it highlighted how the current climate feels like we’re taking steps backward from all of the progress we’ve made. While we remain hopeful that the gap will continue closing, there’s still a lot of work to be done, and we more need depictions like this on television to keep the conversation going.
Photos Courtesy of FOX