I was a voracious reader as a child. I read every single book in The Babysitters Club series – I’d order a BSC book a month in the Scholastic Lucky Book Club, borrow them from the mobile library, and re-read my favourites over and over. I especially loved the bumper holiday specials.
I was so invested in the characters. I loved their entrepreneurial spirit! They were so responsible and driven at a young age. They were problem solvers. They were independent feminists who always had each other’s backs.
The Babysitters Club started on Netflix on Friday – and I was so here for the nostalgia. I binged the show on Friday night and Saturday morning, and I loved it so much. I didn’t enjoy the mid 90s TV and film adaptations of the books, but the 2020 release did not disappoint.
The storylines were just as I remember – wholesome, conflicts to navigate, kids being kids, crushes and the responsibility of babysitting – with some 2020 related social justice issues thrown in. The only thing I didn’t expect was for Dawn Schaefer not to be blonde – she was Latina.
The young cast is delightful – Malia Baker (Maryanne Spier), Momona Tomada (Claudia Kishi), Shay Rudolph (Stacey McGill), Sophie Grace (Kristy Thomas) and Xochitl Gomez .(Dawn Schaefer). I was also thrilled Alicia Silverstone plays Kristy’s mum – Clueless was also one of my teenage favourites.
As a child with very few friends, The Babysitters Club were my friends. I was reminded of that while I watched the series. I loved the way they looked out for each other, and also their commitment to caring for their babysitting charges. It was such a loving, caring and feminist series. I felt joyous watching each episode.
Claudia Kishi was my favourite character in the books – I loved her fashion and secret stash of lollies in her bedroom. I’d enjoy the outfit descriptions in each of the books – like an oversized denim shirt worn over purple overalls, a tie dyed shirt, floral Doc Martens and earrings that are shrinkie Skittles packets. She was so cool. And her fashion did not disappoint in the Netflix series.
I squeed at the yellow jumpsuit she wore, and the rust one too. I loved the navy dress with the white collar and sleeves. And the tweed suit to. And I adored her wedding outfit. So great!
A few commenters on my Instagram post about the Netflix series talked about how the books helped them. Seeing Kristy Thomas’ blended family made them feel seen. That the girls’ business know how made them start their own businesses. I feel the Netflix series continued the representation and staunch feminism that were in the books.
I adored the commitment to diversity in the Nextflix series – including lots of characters from different cultural backgrounds, sexualities, and different family structures. There was such kindness – even when life lessons were taught. And it was really lovely to see the girls’ personal growth and interactions with the adults.
There were a few storylines that made my heart sing! Spoilers ahead…
I loved how Stacey shook the shame of living with Type 1 Diabetes. She owned her insulin pump by blinging it up, and urging her Mum to shake the shame too. Seeing her speak to babysitting clients’ parents about her health management, and also having the reassurance from Mrs Johannson – an endocrinologist, was wonderful – so important for young people with chronic illnesses. Also, how stylish was Stacey?!
There were also two beautiful scenes involving MaryAnne and Bailey, a transgender girl played by Kai Shappley.
Maryanne played princess tea parties with Bailey, and I cheered and cried when she spoke out against medical professionals misgendering Bailey. I loved this tweet about that storyline:
But of course, being an appearance activist with a facial difference and skin condition, I was disappointed by a storyline in the last episode. Spoiler ahead…
Stacey and her former NYC friend Laine had an argument at Camp Moosehead, and pulled each other into a growth of poison ivy – which caused them both to have a skin outbreak – itching and swelling all over their faces and bodies . The other babysitters got a fright when they saw Stacey, and Maryanne said Stacey couldn’t play the lead character in the musical because she was “disfigured”. The reaction to their (temporary) skin conditions were fearful, rather than concerned and in the spirit of their accepting and inclusive friendships. I wish this part was done differently – as skin conditions and facial differences should not be used as a tool to create fear or discouragement of being seen in public. This was a real opportunity to reassure viewers that people with skin conditions and facial differences are not to be feared.
Apart from that storyline I love, love loved The Babysitters Club series on Netflix! It took me back to being 10-11-12, when I was figuring things out for myself, when I started puberty, and when I was in need of a close group of friends. It gave me fashion inspiration too (shop for the outfits here).
In the age of Trump’s ridiculous leadership, the upheavals Coronavirus has caused, and all the other current issues we face, it was wonderful to see these young characters (and actors) brightly lead.
I’m back in Coronavirus lockdown – feeling anxious, and in need of an escape. This series was just what I needed to reflect on nostalgia and to feel like everything is going to be ok.
Are you watching? Did you love it? 💜