I’m a Mary Anne with the candy-swilling creativity of Claudia, the environmentalism of Dawn, with a little Mallory on top. This group of girls showed preteen-me than anything is possible with a good support group and determination. The book series is near perfection to my tween-recollection but I couldn’t help but be excited and hopeful when I heard about Netflix’s version of the BSC.
Ya’ll. They absolutely rocked it. Proof that the Baby-Sitters Club is timeless.
Netflix’s twist on the iconic Baby-Sitters Club from our childhood has taken the adventures in friendship and babysitting and given it a 21st century shine. It’s written for both the now grown-up OGs and their children, a whole new generation. The sharp writing, edgy quips, and all the nods to now are done in perfect harmony to the personalities Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn are known and adored for. Social issues play a big part and they’re presented in wholesome ways that allow for further conversations. It was a great series to watch with my six and nine year old (though it did take some delicate explaining when Kristy gets her period for the first time in Episode #8.)
The first season is the first eight books in the series, just a smidge out of order and includes one book out of the Super Specials as well. Because I have so much to say about these books and the show, we divided my post into three installments. I’ll talk about books 1-3 in this post, and the rest in two others so be on the lookout for those.
Episode 1, Kristy’s Big Idea (Book #1, 1986): Just like in the first book, the ever resourceful, ever in charge, Kristy comes up with the novel idea of one phone call to reach a handful of reliable sitters. In the show, they do a great job of keeping it in this decade while sticking to the mid-eighties and nineties air of the books. Kristy’s mom, perfectly cast as Alicia Silverstone, bemoans the fact that no one picks up their phone and no one uses landlines anymore when she can’t find a sitter for Kristy’s little brother, David Michael. Cue the BSC.
As they hash out marketing plans, Stacey, sophisticated and newly arrived from New York, suggests cross referencing their Instagram accounts for clients and calculating clickthrough ratios, while the others grimace. Claudia’s genius sister Janine, pops in and in her droll, Daria way, suggests they stick to something they know. So they pass out flyers and Claudia gets a vintage phone from Etsy, (yes, it wouldn’t be BSC without that see-thru corded phone). As secretary, Mary Anne, who is biracial in the show, uses Google docs to organize all their jobs and schedules.
There is a beautiful bit of feminism, which there of course should be in a series about empowered young women entrepreneurs when Kristy complains about her teacher making her write a paper on decorum, telling her mom that a boy would never be made to write a paper like that. Her mom says “You’re absolutely right.” The way she stopped and acknowledged the gender inequality was a moment for me and I definitely teared up (Okay, I teared up in pretty much every episode, let me get that out of the way right now.) The paper Kristy wrote in response was glorious.
Episode 2, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (Book #2, 1986): In the book, the whole town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut are up in arms over home invasions and phantom phone calls which Claudia believes stems from a jewel thief. The show deepens this a step further when the “phantom calls” are the not-good-enough thoughts Claudia grapples with. Just like in the books, she’s a Japanese-American who breaks stereotype with her bad grades. Her parents mean well, but they’re only focused on good grades equal good colleges. Claudia’s actual genius of a sister, Janine, attempts to “help” by offering parenting advice, setting up impossible goals. Thank goodness for Mimi, Claudia’s grandmother, who is steadfastly there for her. The internalization of the “phantom calls” really brought home the idea how what’s good for one person, isn’t always good for another. It’s a great illustration that education isn’t one size fits all.
In keeping with the spooky, Halloween-esque tone of this episode, we also get to meet Karen Brewer, Kristy’s soon-to-be stepsister who is delightfully morbid (her character spoke to my six year old’s soul). At one point, when burying her doll, she tells Kristy “there’s no point in praying over her. She’s an atheist.” The unexpected straightforwardness of it made me laugh and sets the stage for an interesting character who comes to terms with changing family dynamics in her own special way.
Episode 3, The Truth About Stacey (Book #3, 1986): Just like in the book, in this one we learn the secret that’s been hinted at in the first two: where does Stacey go on these last minute weekend trips? Why doesn’t she eat any of Claudia’s glorious candy stash?
The BSC start losing clients to the Baby-Sitter’s Agency, a group of high schoolers who are able to drive, stay later than our twelve year-olds, and implement all the social media marketing ideas Stacey had. One tells Mary Anne, “It’s a free market. Deal with it.” It seems the BSC might collapse. (Not in the third book–we need over a hundred more of these!) But then the girls spot one of their kids playing in the street, his high school sitter snuggled on the couch with her boyfriend. When Stacey calls the parent, the sitter tells Stacey she’ll regret that.
The episode turns to cyberbullying when the agency sitter unearths a video of Stacey going into insulin shock and start seizing and sends it to all their clients. The parents are concerned about her ability to watch their kids but Stacey assures them her condition is now under control. A parent, who is also a doctor, steps in and says she noticed the insulin pump from the beginning and was impressed with how Stacey managed her sugar levels without missing a beat playing with the child. The show takes the book’s message of normalizing type 1 diabetes and furthers it when, in the end, Stacey stops hiding her pump in shame and bedazzles it instead.
Now, for the big question…which BSC member did YOU relate to the most?
The original Ann M. Martin books are busy getting all new covers but the Haunted Book Shop has the new graphic novels and used copies, both of The Baby-Sitters Club and Karen’s chapter book series, The Baby-Sitters Club Little Sister.
To keep everyone safe, we’re open by appointment (you can book your time slot here), as well as curbside pickup and shipping options. We also use bookshop.org if we don’t have the book you need in stock.
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