I just found out Netflix is launching a new Babysitters Club Series.
Yes girl, I heard you squeal. It’s all good, because I, and every woman I know in their upper 30’s to early 40’s made that exact same noise.
THE BABYSITTERS CLUB!!!! Now that it’s no longer awkward, let’s jump up and down and shout together!
I loved those books. My friends loved those books. We watched all 3 episodes of the short-lived show. Then we saw the movie (I mean, we were a little old to read the books at that time, but we still had to see the movie to make sure they did the series justice, you know.)
Both were ok- but still, you couldn’t beat those books. There was nothing like the moment a new BSC book was released. I’d beg my mom to go to the mall so we could find it at Walden Books (RIP).
And if our timing was right (we would call first to check- there was no internet inventory checking back then), there BSC #... would be, smack dab in the middle of the store on an endcap. First we'd notice the reliable yellow-orange block letter logo with a pastel background. A portrait of the friends doing whatever cool Babysittering things they were doing. Ann M. Martin’s byline (although the series was eventually taken over by other writers).
What was the appeal? I don’t know precisely, but for our generation, the Babysitters Club was magnetic.
My friends and I fake started our own babysitters club and never actually got any clients. But, we sure did have fun fighting over who was going to be Jessi (there was only one black member!). I also loved being Claudia, the supercool artsy one, and Stacey, the New York City transplant who loved to shop.
In hindsight, I feel somewhat badly for the representation of my fellow Leo, Kristy, the official visionary founder and president of the Babysitters Club and resident bossypants. If this was today, we would likely say Kristy was a #girlboss with ‘leadership skills’. Back in the 80’s/90’s, she was just bossy.
But in other ways, I think the Babysitters Club’s content was ahead of its time for young readers. Think about all of the things the Babysitters Club taught us about:
Friendship, (so many examples)
Loss (Remember when Claudia’s grandmother died?)
Blended families (Mary Ann and Dawn were stepsisters!)
Chronic Illness (Stacey was diabetic, and had to be hospitalized)
And, more broadly, the importance of representation.
Acknowledging racism and feelings of ‘otherness’ in kids books of the early 90’s was a bold move, as Jessi and her family clearly experienced some friction and isolation as they moved from a diverse New Jersey town to monochromatic Stony Brook. And Claudia Kishi was, for many Asian-American girls, the first time they saw themselves represented in literature.
Apparently Kristy’s mom is going to be played by the one and only Alicia Silverstone, who will forever be Clueless’ Cher Horowitz in my xennial heart. While I am excited about that, it also makes me feel old, so we’ll just say I have mixed feelings.
I’m also encouraged that in the new series, Dawn, previously a California blonde, is Latina. But after reading preliminary information, I also realized that this series has no Jessi. NO JESSI. Jessi was introduced to the club later in the series (apparently book #14), but I am 10000% in my feelings that she won’t be in the mix- at least yet. I certainly hope there are plans to introduce her - there can absolutely be Asian, Latina, and Black cast members! Or maybe that’s just too idyllic for Stoneybrook, Connecticut.
The series is slated to launch on Netflix in early July. And since this is the year of #netflixandchill, I will certainly be watching… maybe even with my child.
Were you a BSC fan? Will you be watching? Which character was your favorite?