The Baby-Sitters Club is on Netflix!
Like most millennials, I spent my tween years reading The Baby-Sitters Club (BSC) book series. So, when I heard there was a new series coming to Netflix, I was excited. But I was also scared. Was it going to ruin the series I loved so much as a kid?
The book series
If you’ve never heard nor read the Baby-Sitters books, here’s the series in a nutshell.
In the small Fictional Connecticut town of Stoneybrook, Kristy Thomas comes up with an idea of starting a baby-sitting service. With three of her friends, Claudia, Stacey and Mary-Anne, the club takes off and only grows in popularity. Along the way, new members join such as Dawn and Mallory. The series deals with typical teenage issues such as friendship, family, illness, moving and divorce.
The TV series
The TV series has been brought into the 21st-century by Rachel Shukert. Original author of the Baby-Sitters books, Ann M. Martin serves as a producer. The new series takes place in 2020, a clever creative decision from the creator. The series is introducing a new generation to The Baby-Sitters Club so I don’t think kids would relate to the show if it were set in the 80s. There are a few subtle nods to the era though, with a landline phone and some of the fashion choices.
21st Century Life
A major difference is the issues addressed in the series. In a stand-out episode, Mary-Anne finds herself babysitting a transgender child, Bailey. She discovers Bailey is transgender when she sees her wardrobe, which has boys clothes. Bailey explains that they are her old clothes and opens the drawer to reveal her pretty girl dresses. When an incident happens and Mary-Anne is forced to take Bailey to the hospital, she stands up for the child when the doctors keep referring to Bailey as ‘he’.
An interesting fact I found out is that the actor who plays Bailey is transgender herself!
An arc throughout the series is Kristy coming to terms with her mother remarrying. Kristy’s dad walked out the family years ago, but Kristy thinks they are just fine without a man in their lives, possibly due to the resentment she has for her father. She doesn’t like the very wealthy Watson Brewer whom her mother is set to marry and refuses to babysit for him until she is forced to due to none of the other girls being available. This sets the wheels in motion for Kristy to finally begin to accept Watson and his kids Karen and Logan. Whilst this happens in the book, it is a focal point in the series that cannot be ignored.
Another poignant moment in the series that does not appear in the book, is at camp Moosehead, where Dawn stages a protest after clashing with the camp’s counsellors. Her protest is highlighting the importance of equal rights within the camp. You see, at camp Mooseheads, those who are wealthy can participate in all the best activities because they can pay for them, but those who are less well-off are constantly left out. It’s a terrific scene to see and proves the point that the rich get richer while the poor get ignored.
It’s moments like these that have me praising the series. While some may see this as straying too far from the books, I would see this as progression. At the time the books were written, the issues were relevant to the time period. It makes sense that the TV series, set in the 21st century, would also cover relevant issues.
The series features unfamiliar faces in the child cast, yet has some notable actors playing the adults. The cast couldn’t have been chosen better.
Sophie Grace brings the strong and determined president of the BSC to life in a fantastic way. Momona Tamada plays the stylish and artistic Claudia Kishi well, bringing her own style to the character. Shay Rudolph plays the diabetic, native New Yorker Stacey Magill fantastically. Malia Baker plays the timid Mary-Anne well, growing with her character. Xochitl Gomez is cast as Dawn, who moves to Stoneybrook after her parents’ divorce where her dad discovered he was gay. She seems to be the most mature of the characters and Gomez makes her very believable.
All of the actors are either 13 or 14, which reflective of their characters and demonstrate their talent.
In terms of the adult cast, Alicia Silverstone (Clueless) is the most notable. She plays Kristy’s mother and is just as headstrong and determined as her daughter. Another face you may recognise is Marc Evan Jackson (from Brooklyn Nine-Nine) who plays Richard Spier, Mary-Anne’s overprotective father.
All-in-all, The Baby-Sitters Club is an interesting and captivating series. I know I am not the target audience, but I was able to recognise myself in many of the characters. I enjoyed the journey the storylines took me on and found it hard not to binge-watch the 10-episode series in one day.
The show has been renewed for season 2, however there is no release date yet and due to Covid-19, may be delayed.
Check out the series now on Netflix.
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