the best friends you’ll never have

Did you know that Watson Brewer is a real, live millionaire? Of course you did–it’s mentioned in every book at least once. It’s not clear why, exactly, they decided to make such a big deal about Watson being a millionaire, as none of the other sitters’ families seemed to be really hurting for cash. Sure, they may have had to pay for half of the cost of their Hawaii/Europe trips, but the attempts to make the BSC appear more middle class, more average in terms of relative wealth fall flat when one examines the facts.

First, professions.

  • Claudia: Dad–investment banker; Mom–head librarian
  • Mary Anne: Dad–Lawyer
  • Stacey: Dad–sometimes executive, sometimes lawyer; Mom–SAHM/professional shopper then buyer for Bellairs
  • Dawn: Mom–some sort of business person; Dad–I think one time it is mentioned he is a lawyer but it’s never really clear
  • Abby: Mom–important person in publishing.
  • Mal: Dad–lawyer; Mom–SAHM then temp worker
  • Jessi: Dad–some sort of business guy Mom: Advertising executive

  • Shannon: Dad–lawyer, but we know that shannon’s also rich
  • Logan: Dad–sporting goods distributor. I have no idea how much sporting goods distributors make, but Addie’s dad on Unfabulous is also one and they have a really nice house.

    Much joking has been done about the proliferation of lawyers in the Stoneybrook area. Lawyers generally make a lot of money. So do investment bankers. And advertising executives. And executive-executives.

    It seems to me that so much emphasis was placed on Watson being a millionaire to distract from the pack that the BSC all seemed to be upper middle class. Abby lived in Kristy’s neighborhood, yet no one ever said, “Hey, Abby’s rich too!” Stacey’s dad took her to all the expensive restaurants in New York and her clothes all came from Bloomingdales, which as far as I know does not have a “juniors” section al a many other department stores–think Marc By Marc Jacobs/Theory/Diane Von Furstenburg prices. Adjusted for inflation, a dress like Stacey would have worn would be about 200$ in today’s prices. Mal’s dad’s salary, before he lost his job and Mrs. Pike also started to work, supported eight children and a wife. Kristy’s mom at first didn’t have a lot of money, but then she married Watson, so Kristy only wasn’t rich for the first five books of the series.

    So why so much emphasis on Watson Brewer’s millionaire status? I think Ann just didn’t really have any exposure to people with less money, and by putting so much emphasis on Watson’s wealth and having all the parents make their kids do stuff like pay half for school trips, it made it seem like the girls’ families weren’t that wealthy. But looking at the facts, especially when it comes to Stacey and Abby, it is obvious that Kristy wasn’t the only girl in the BSC from a wealthy family. I think that instead of just including some token minorities and a variety of family situations, they should have also done more to show economic diversity.

    ETA: Ashley has informed me that Kristy’s mom, like Jessi’s, works in advertising. I guess in Ann’s world, men are lawyers and women are advertisers.

  • 15 Responses To This Post

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    Lou said, November 6th, 2007 at 5:28 am

    So, is no one allowed to be a nurse or a teacher? I never noticed the proliferation of lawyers. What is it that makes this such an appealing profession for Ann M. Martin? Did she just not know of any other professions?

    Very weird. And you are so right. Everyone’s rich. But I guess that’s what happens in small-town Connecticut. It’s hardly a state known for its low average income.

    myu said, November 6th, 2007 at 7:49 am

    Wasn’t Jessi’s mother in advertising?

    I read “European Vacation” recently and couldn’t quite get over the fact that Stacey’s mother buys her some clothes from Harrods. You can buy a pullover in Harrods for about £400 (about US$800), so god only knows how much two outfits would cost (especially since one was evening-type wear).

    greer said, November 6th, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    @lou: re: the connecticut thing. exactly. why did ann choose to set her series in one of the richest counties in all of the usa? she could have set her small town pretty much anywhere, yet she set it somewhere known for being wealthy.

    @myu: yeah, i meant to write advertising executive. whoops.

    Abby said, November 6th, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    It was mentioned in several books that Mr. McGill made bank…and that despite Stacey’s mom working post divorce, she was pretty much supporting them with her ex’s child support and alimony checks.

    Also, it was mentioned numerous times that Dawn’s mom came from money, and as they owned a large house in Southern California near the beach I’m sure Dawn’s dad could buy and sell Watson several times over.

    Do they ever even say what Watson does?

    greer said, November 6th, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    @abby: is dawn’s house that large? i got the impression that it had three bedrooms, a living room, a den, and a kitchen. it’s also 15 minutes from the beach in the anaheim area–it’s not as if jack had a mansion in malibu or something. i think saying that jack could buy and sell watson several times over is not an accurate depiction. a house as big as kristy’s in that area goes above 10,000,000 dollars.

    watson is vice president of unity insurance. he was also born into money.

    penny said, November 6th, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    I think Watson is old money, plus whatever he makes. Do we ever hear about Watson’s parents?

    I also never had a problem with the other girls being “wealthy” when I was growing up. To be honest, I never really noticed it. I thought they were just average people, like me and my friends. *shrug* I actually thought it was weird that they had to pay for so much stuff on their own.

    I know, it’s horrible. Sometimes, I sound so spoiled.

    chicken_queen said, November 6th, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    I know Kristy’s mom works in advertising, becuase Karen goes to work with her in one of the Little Sister books.

    greer said, November 6th, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    @penny: i didn’t really notice it either and also thought that it was weird that they had to pay for so much stuff but in all honesty my family is pretty wealthy so i guess that is why.

    Abby said, November 7th, 2007 at 8:49 am

    $10,000,000? Really? I’ve never been to CT so I’ll take your word for it. I know there are some really expensive properties on the east coast but I didn’t know that about where the girls are supposed to be.

    To say that Jack could buy Watson several times over was an exaggeration, but still, even a small house near the beach in Southern California would be upwards of a million (today anyways).

    My best guess is Ann just liked the word “millionaire” since probably all BSC parents had incomes into the 6 figures, and assets close to or in the millions.

    I do think, however, it’s implied, either in Poor Mallory or maybe Kristy and the Snobs (one of the books where Stacey babysits the Delaneys), that Stacey’s dad pulls down a salary pretty even with the rich parents.

    greer said, November 7th, 2007 at 9:27 am

    @abby: i don’t think dawn’s house is that near the beach. she can’t even get there by riding her bicycle–she has to have someone drive her or take a bus. if that kind of proximity drives small houses into the millions, i don’t see how southern california can be so populated.

    it is always implied that stacey is rich. what i am confused about is why only kristy’s wealth is really mentioned.

    Abby said, November 7th, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Well, it depends on where exactly the house is, but I would imagine Dawn is close enough to the beach (maybe it’s only a few miles, but it’s by way of freeways which make it impossible to bike?) where the houses do go for close to a million. I spent some time looking at houses (just for fun, I was on vacation there over the summer) and I saw an 1,100 square foot house a few miles away from the ocean going for $900,000. Of course, there are lots of other SoCal areas that go for less, but I always got the impression she lived pretty close to the ocean. In on of the books, (I believe Farewell Dawn?) she says she went to the beach everyday.

    However, if Watson’s house truly was in the $10,000,000 range, then despite how much money the other parents made, he would probably be in a class by himself.

    I think the best way to explain the girls having to buy all their own stuff was that ANM wrote them like they were in their late teens anyway-not maturity wise, but they were always solely responsible for things (like Jessi in charge for a weekend with her siblings, or Stacey taking some of the younger kids to Epcot Center alone, all the girls having permission to wander NYC by themselves). Parents weren’t around to watch their children, I guess they also weren’t around to pay for things either.

    Abby said, November 7th, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Oh yeah, I forgot one other thing that might explain the girls needing to pay for their own stuff– Aren’t a couple of the parents really tight with a buck? I remember a few references to Mr. Spier being a major cheapskate (which probably affects Dawn’s mom too), and for some reason the Kishis always struck me as penny pinchers as well. After supporting Mal’s who family Mr. Pike probably can’t afford too many extras. Really, the only parents who spend freely are Stacey’s. (I don’t know Abby, I stopped reading after Dawn moved away).

    It’s all a moot point anyway– even though Kristy’s stepdad’s a millionaire, she still pays for all her own stuff anyway.

    I think the millionaire thing is probably so emphasized because ANM was a little weak on character development- “This is Watson, he is a millionaire” is about all the insight I got into him (at least until book #67, which is when I stopped reading regularly). Just like, this is Claudia’s mom, she doesn’t like Nancy Drew, or this is Dawn’s mom, she’s remarried and possibly schizophrenic.

    greer said, November 7th, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    @abby: i think dawn’s dad is rich, but not AS rich as watson, despite orange county real estate prices. remember dawn’s dad did not buy the house today, he bought it like thirty years ago if you think of when dawn was introduced as having lived near anaheim. so current socal real estate prices are not important–one needs to look at them from thirty years ago to get an accurate picture of dawn’s financial status. but i know that enormous houses in the long-time wealthiest part of connecticut have always been incredibly expensive.

    i agree that probably the stoneybrook parents are just cheap.

    Coco said, November 13th, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    And why do they they always have to point out he is balding? It’s always like “Last summer, Kristy’s mom married this balding millionaire…” I guess those are his two most important traits!

    bbb said, November 14th, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Haha, I know, why did they always point that out?

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