We continue with Part 3 of my review of Netflix’s take on the iconic series from our childhood, The Baby-Sitters Club. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.
Episode 7, Boy-Crazy Stacey (Book #8, 1987): This episode stays pretty close to the book. Stacey and Mary Anne accompany the Pike family on a Spring Break beach vacation where Stacey falls for a much older lifeguard. She has to figure out how to heal her broken heart which she does when one of the Pike children admits he has a crush on her and she sees the situation from a different perspective. The main difference between book and show is when one of Mary Anne’s new friends, a local who helps her when Stacey all but abandons her and their eight charges, helps her understand what Stacey is going through as he tells her about a boy he was crushing on. It’s a great way to incorporate queer inclusion and representation without affecting the book series’ story line.
Episode 8, Kristy’s Big Day (Book #6, 1987): In the book, Kristy’s big dilemma is balancing her duties as both bridesmaid to her mom and super-rich Watson’s wedding and babysitting duties. The show takes the feminist threads presented in the first episode and lays them out as Kristy comes to terms with her fiercely independent mom and the “tiara-wearing princess” she becomes as she prepares for her wedding. Watson buys Kristy’s oldest brother a luxury SUV but the straw that breaks the camel’s back is when he buys an $800 designer dress for Kristy. Her mom tells her “I didn’t raise you to be someone who doesn’t check price tags.” It’s a moment full of tension that is resolved when Kristy and her mom realize how important they are to each other, and that a person can be a feminist and a princess. The two don’t have to be exclusive. As I mentioned earlier, Kristy comes into womanhood and as her friends are there for her, Claudia says “no period shaming here.” It’s a great scene for tween girls.
My absolute favorite scene in this episode is when Morbidda Destiny, aka Dawn’s eccentric Aunt Esme and the spooky next door neighbor of the Watsons, is the officiant for the wedding. Flower girl (and morbidly curious) Karen screams her head off and in response, Aunt Esme makes the coolest speech ever. “This little girl thinks I’m a witch. So, in front of this room full of witnesses, I’d like to say that she’s right. I am a spiritual practitioner. Now, historically the term ‘witch’ has been used to describe people, primarily women, who refuse to conform to society’s expectations of who they should be… When children tell you something, believe them.” I was snapping in solidarity right along with her.
Episodes 9 & 10, Baby-Sitters’ Summer Vacation (Super Special #2, 1989): This book is a Super Special which means it’s longer and has all the girl’s point-of-views as they write in a diary while Stacey is away in New York.
The show changes the name from Camp Mohawk to Camp Moosehead in respect to Native Americans and is all about revolution. First off, the girls of BSC are split up into different cabins, shattering their idea of a summer of togetherness. Kristy is frustrated by the camp owner, Meany, thwarting her plans to wrest control from the counselors who aren’t doing their jobs and connecting with the kids. Mary Anne meets a girl from New York (this ties back into book/episode 3, The Truth About Stacey) who likes Broadway shows as much as she does and they put together a play, Paris Magic, about a girl who time travels to the French Revolution.
In art class, Dawn and Claudia overhear the art director tell a child who doesn’t have commissary money to purchase overpriced shirts for tie-dying that she can’t participate. This bothers Claudia who says “art should be free and available to everyone” and Dawn who sees it as creating haves and have-nots. So they stage a lie-in when Claudia is remanded to her cabin for holding unsanctioned free wildlife art classes. Things escalate to an activity strike which messes up Mary Anne’s play (which is already cursed according to Karen). Striking campers make a picket line and the noise disrupts Mary Anne’s opening. She rushes outside to confront Dawn who says something like “You’ll change the world your way. I’ll change the world my way. And we’ll be best friends.” And that y’all, is why the BSC rocks. Mary Anne has a pause where she makes the connection of her play being about a revolution, but an actual revolution taking place outside the theatre door—such a powerful moment.
The last episode brings in Junior BSC members Mallory Pike and Jessi Ramsey earlier than the books but it makes me so hopeful for a next season. I’m crossing my fingers to see one of my favorites–book #47 Mallory on Strike when she wants to win The Young Authors Day Award. I can dream. Or just reread my copy.
While there’s no confirmation on Season 2, the showrunners have hinted about it on social media. So if you want to get a heads up on what could possibly be next season, I fully recommend dusting off your Scholastic Fair copies boxed up in your attic or checking out the forthcoming new recovers and graphic novels out now to share with a whole new generation of tweens.
Now, for the big question…how do you think Netflix treated the BSC member 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, Baby-Sitters 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 just announced new hours! Check out the terms and conditions. We also use bookshop.org if we don’t have the book you need in stock.