Are you ready for another reincarnation of a millennial childhood cultural phenomenon?
Well, ready or not, here it comes ... The Baby-Sitters Club is now a Netflix original TV series. While I wouldn't mind more TV offerings that aren't a blatant nostalgia grab, I'll be honest ... The nostalgia grabbed me. Luckily, though, the show is smart and well-written, and ambitiously tackles a wide variety of social issues, especially those dealing with gender norms.
Courtesy of goodhousekeeping.com
Each character teaches viewers something through her own personal struggle, and who better to start with than Kristy Brewer, the club's fearless leader? Kristy is frequently labeled with the negative stereotypes associated with assertive women: that she's bossy and a loud-mouth. She embodies a fiercely indepenedent entrepreneurial spirit who chafes at the idea that women need men for anything.
Claudia's personal story explores the experience of a child who struggles to meet her parents' expectations.
Mary Anne, my personal favorite, confronts the reality many introverts face. Because she is reserved and sensitive, even her own friends believe she must be a push-over who can't think or stand up for herself.
Dawn is an activist who wants to prove she's a good caretaker, but faces the challenge of setting boundaries on her emotional labor.
Stacey, in my opinion, is not as compelling as the other characters. She appears to have two defining characteristics: she has diabetes, and she's boy-crazy. The writers create a minor scandal around her illness, and while her character handles the situation with maturity, I felt it wasn't the show's most convincing moment.
Courtesy of Spoiler TV
The male characters don't feature as heavily in most episodes, but they each teach a lesson in their own way, as well. A few must necessarily serve as adversaries who behave entitled and thoughtless, but the show is populated by quite a few empathetic boys and men, too. Claudia has a crush on a boy who is a sensitive artist, who demonstrates that boys can talk about their feelings and still be masculine and accomplished. Kristy's soon-to-be stepfather demonstrates that he cares about building a relationship with her. And of course, we get a few glimpses of Mary Anne's future boyfriend, Logan, who is himself an example of a compassionate caretaker.
While Claudia was the only non-white character in the original book series, the TV show is clearly committed to diversity. Mary Anne is a multiracial character, and Dawn, who was a blond Cali girl in the books, is recast as a Latina Wiccan activist.
The episodes are mostly faithful to the original book series, except for the two-part season finale. The show is full of call-backs to the original books, such as the club logo, the episode titles, and even the classic Baby-Sitters Club landline. However, the writers did a great job of updating the show by incorporating current technology such as smart phones and an insulin pump for Stacy, plus many other pop culture references (Handmaids Tale and Queer Eye, anyone?) that are sure to entertain adults watching. I see parents and children enjoying this series together due to its clever writing and progressive tone. I'll be eagerly awaiting Season 2, along with a revival of The Boxcar Children in 2021, please and thanks.
Have you seen this new show? What are your thoughts? What other book series do you wish were a TV show? Tell us in the comments!