Other Media Review

The Baby-Sitters Club (Netflix 2020)

If you’re anything like me, you need some comfort in your life and quite urgently. If you do, consider The Baby-Sitters’ Club, the new series on Netflix, a prescription-strength balm for the soul. It will ease your tired mind and your sore heart and make you feel hopeful for what is to come.

The show is calling!

First a little background. Books were my first real friends. Hell, they still are my friends. And it started with Sweet Valley High, The Baby-Sitter’s Club and an assortment of horse riding books. My loyalty to and gratitude for these books is unending. So it was with trepidation that I began watching The Baby-Sitters’ Club on Netflix. I am blessed with a poor memory for plot (it makes rereading almost as rewarding as reading the book for the first time) so I could not remember anything about the books that I know I loved as a child.

So it was with fresh eyes that I was introduced to Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Ann and, later, Dawn. Kristy, founder and president of The Baby-Sitters’ Club is a force to be reckoned with and she’s coming to grips with her mom’s marriage to Watson, the step-dad in waiting. Claudia is an artist with a complicated relationship with her family. Stacey is the new girl in town and she’s learning to be more open with those around her. Dawn is a free spirit and part of Mary Ann’s new sense of confidence and liberation. It’s wonderful seeing Mary Ann move from timid to quietly confident throughout the show.

Kristy knows herself.

Each episode is told from a different member’s perspective with lessons learnt along the way. For those of you wondering, the TV series has all of the nostalgia of the original series with none of the painful cringing that revisiting old classics so often delivers. You can relax into this series like a hot bubble bath, safe in the knowledge there will be no clangers to bounce you out of the story or hurt your heart.

There are two episodes in particular that standout for me. The first is the episode where Mary Ann babysits a trans girl and has to stand up for her during a medical emergency. I cheered at the TV screen! And the two-part finale to the first season is a masterclass in feel-good TV. The girls are all off at camp together and hijinks ensue. Claudia and Dawn are frustrated by the limits placed on those campers who do not have extra money to spend on activities, and they decide to Do Something about it. Of course, this brings them into conflict with the long-suffering camp manager. And I have to confess, that camp manager feels a lot like me sometimes. I wish I had a group of relentlessly positive middle schoolers to reignite my enthusiasm for life. Oh wait, I do! I have this series.

Rebellion ahoy!

There is something so measured and reassuring about the TV series. All disagreements are resolved through communication and honesty. New friendships are made with the ease of a simple, “Hello, do you want to be my friend?”

All the things I struggle with are just so damn easy. Conflict with a friend? Just have a conversation. Feeling lonely? Just make a new friend. There are such blissfully easy solutions to the problems I face and it makes change feel not only possible, but hopeful.

Group hug!

In short, do you need a hug in these socially-distant times? Do you need a few hours reprieve from the strain of it all?

If yes, then this series is what you need: a warm bear-hug with a favourite friend wearing a soft jumper that smells of clean laundry and sunshine.

Add Your Comment →

  1. 1
    5+

    I had mad love for these books when I was younger. I can’t even remember how many times I read and re-read them. I still remember some of the plots/characters, like the one where they all go on a cruise together and the girl who can peel bananas with her toes (and uses that as her talent in a beauty pageant).

    I’m really looking forward to checking out the show. Thanks for the review. 🙂

  2. 2
    Ellie says:
    6+

    Is the show set today, or does it still take place in the 80s or 90s? The clear phone with the colorful inside which is an exact match for one I had in the late 80s made me think the latter, but the trans child plot seems very 2020.

  3. 3
    Argie says:
    8+

    @Ellie – Show is set in modern times (cellphones exist, for example), but they do go through a whole rationale about why they’re using a landline phone.

  4. 4
    Jill Q. says:
    9+

    I have finished this series, but I was a big fan of the original books and so far I’m impressed with how they’ve been able to update the show and keep the sweetness and fun that was always at the heart of the books.

    For me, the hardest thing to believe was that parents would hire children that young to watch kids and that parents of the baby sitters would feel comfortable with them in a strangers’ home. When I moved to my neighborhood and asked around for baby-sitter recommendations more than one person said “we don’t use baby-sitters” in the same way other people might say “we don’t do crack cocaine.” Sorry if that sounds dramatic, but it gets the tone across.

    The one time I used a teenage mother’s helper (she stayed in the house with littlest child while I helped bigger one) her mother came over to personally interview me, which personally I appreciated and understood.

    But I personally decided to just let reality go and enjoy living in “Stonybrook World” and I’ve enjoyed it!

  5. 5
    Kate says:
    4+

    I was too old for the books when they came out but enjoyed the few episodes I’ve watched so far. The writing is smart, with some really great quirky touches. Letting 12 year olds babysit does seem a little anachronistic now, but I watched my younger brothers and neighbor kids at that age.

  6. 6
    Kelsey says:
    5+

    I love this series. It is so cute, and I agree, they’ve executed the nostalgia/contemporary feel perfectly.

    @Jill Q idk my 12 year old babysits for a few families. She knew one family initially, and got a couple recommendations from them. She hasn’t babysat recently but she was doing it about once a week for a while!

  7. 7
    Penny says:
    4+

    “Books were my first real friends”
    Very much the same here! I used to carry a paperback in the inside pocket of my jean jacket as a kid (it was the 80s). I remember when I was in, oh, I think 5th grade, a teacher made a good hearted attempt to connect with me by asking about what I was reading. I handed her the current book, which was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. She opened it to a random page. God knows what she saw haha… she asked some probing questions and I think there was a call to my parents about age appropriate reading material… in my defense, had she asked the week before it would’ve been So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane. Not all my reading was inappropriate! That being said, I’m pretty sure this is where my fondness for old skool crazy sauce came from… sorry random thought stream kicked off there…

    Anyway! I also loved the babysitters club! This sounds super comforting.

  8. 8
    AmyM says:
    7+

    This series wasn’t something I was super excited for when it was announced. I read and loved the books, I was around the for mid-90’s movie. I just figured that it would be aimed too young for me. I. Was. So. Wrong.

    When I saw that the series was up on Netflix I thought it would be something I could watch with my young daughter. I think I ended up enjoying it more than her. I loved what they did with this series. It still has the nostalgic feeling of the books, but brings it into now.

    I felt like the show was made by people who loved the books and wanted to make sure that they did right by them.

  9. 9
    Karen D says:
    5+

    Way back when (40 years ago–ack!), my 10yo self and my 10yo cousin tag-teamed and babysat for our other cousin’s NEWBORN. What was everyone involved in this thinking??? To be fair, we were both pretty mature and I loved everything about babies, so we took this gig seriously. But would I have let a 10yo babysit my own kids? No way.

  10. 10
    Ellie says:
    0

    Thank you, Argie!

  11. 11
    J E says:
    5+

    Jill, that is weird! Does everyone pay adult nannies to sit?

    12 is youngish but most kids around here do the Red Cross babysitting class in middle school and start out slow (daytime, short visits to grocery store, mothers helper) or neighbors nearby (who know sitter’s parents are home just in case). My son started around age 13.

    Thr show sounds fun! Thanks for the review – I need the comfort watch

  12. 12
    neh says:
    3+

    I am soooo old my daughter read the babysitters books. I probably wouldn’t have checked this out if we weren’t in this isolation time, but I loved it-the perfect escape from our real life 2020. I recommend the show even if you have no memories/nostagia for the books.

  13. 13
    Jen M. says:
    5+

    I grew up on BSC, and remember all the plots because I read them so many times. This series went way past an A rating into SQUEEEEE territory. I can’t express how much I loved it. I was in the world I read about as a child. Yes, it was updated to fit in a 2020 world, but always managed to feel EXACTLY like the books I read as a child. I still tear up when I talk about this series, because they got it — why these books mattered and the lessons about female friendship and empowerment the books taught a generation of young readers. I was just telling a friend I’m looking forward to a second watch, which I never do with TV shows, much less a month after my initial watch. And I’m so glad there’s a new generation who can fall in love with the Baby-sitters’ Club.

  14. 14
    Sabrina says:
    2+

    Oh man, I was obsessed with those books when I was a kid – particularly in middle school, when making friends was hard for me. I did actually baby-sit in my middle school years too, partly inspired by the books. 🙂
    Thank you for the review; I’d been a little afraid to watch the show, but I’ve really been craving comfort lately!

  15. 15
    Lisa F says:
    2+

    It’s a full-out Squee for me. Loved loved loved everything about it.

  16. 16
    Jill Q. says:
    2+

    @J E, yup. Nannies or au pairs. Or they work out something with a childcare worker from a day care their child goes to during the daytime. Maybe there are some families in the area who hire teenage sitters, but I’ve never met someone who has said so. I had to hire all my sitters from websites and some were college age, but many were older than that. It’s the same with mowing yards and to a large extent, dog-walking. It’s all done by adults, lots of times people who are bonded, insured, with multiple references, etc.

    Some people also just seemed vaguely scandalized in general that I wouldn’t want to spend every waking moment with my children (big eye roll.)

    It’s a shame b/c I remember having a baby sitter that was probably around the same age as the BSC girls and she was so much fun. I don’t think I even realized she was my sitter at the time. I thought she was my buddy.

  17. 17
    HeatherS says:
    0

    I binged the whole show this afternoon and I am so in my feels right now, I can’t even. I realized this year that I don’t even really remember what it was like to be that age. Also, that girls now skip all the make up/hair/fashion awkwardness and are experts at 12, thanks to YouTube tutorials.

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