the best friends you’ll never have

The Baby-Sitters Club is rife with examples of glaring violations of child labor laws. Logan works as a busboy at the Road Spud. Laine poohs baby-sitting in favor of working as a cashier at Flowers and Bows, the boutique on the Upper East Side (or West? Please, someone with Stacey’s Ex-Best Friend handy, let me know!). Stacey works at Kid Center in Bellairs.

But in later books, someone seems to have sent Scholastic a memo saying, hey, THAT IS ILLEGAL. Sunny says that Ducky is the only friend of hers who can work at Winslow Books, because he is sixteen. Maureen Spencer says that none of Stacey’s friends can work at her new, as yet unopened store, since they’re not old enough. While in many ways the series got more unrealistic as time went on (oh hai princess in Stoneybrook and field trips to Europe), when it got to be CA Diaries/FF time, things seem to have become more realistic. Nothing in the plots of either series are as outlandish as things often found in later BSC.

Another thing I noticed in my reread of Stacey’s Problem: Samantha is one glamorous woman. She is a former model turned fashion photographer. Now, this kind of woman is not going to date just some normal guy. I would imagine that she would probably end up with someone high-powered and rich, because that is the kind of person she would come across in her work. We’re told over and over again that Watson is Very Rich, yet Stacey buys all her clothes at Bloomingdales (which is not cheap–Stacey is rocking the cost equivalent of Marc by Marc Jacobs in eighth grade), she went to a fancy private school in Manhattan, they had an apartment overlooking Central Park, Ed takes Stacey to fancy restaurants and Broadway plays all the damn time. So how come the obvious was never stated, that Stacey is very wealthy as well, in addition to being sophisticated? It seems odd to mention Kristy’s wealth in every Chapter 2 and not say anything about Stacey’s.

22 Responses To This Post

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Sadako said, March 27th, 2009 at 12:07 am

I just checked. It’s the Up. West Side.

But yeah, Stacey’s dad had to be pretty wealthy. And Abby lived in the same neighborhood as Kristy but no one ever went on about her family being wealthy either.

abby said, March 27th, 2009 at 7:53 am

Every once in awhile Stacey would say something about it…the only specific example I remember is when Amanda Delaney asked Stacey if her father made a lot of money in #39, Poor Mallory, and Stacey had some snarky reply she wanted to say indicating he did in, fact, do pretty well.

But I guess it wasn’t stated over and over because even if Stacey’s father’s salary was well into the 6 figures, he wasn’t a ZOMG, millionare!

LemurCat said, March 27th, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I always just assumed CT had some really lax child labor laws. The thing that surprised me even more was that with the amount of lawyers floating around The ‘Brook, none of them brought up such crazy ideas as liability insurance and setting up an LLP so that none of the girls would be personally liable. Yes, even as a kid I thought about lawsuits.

nikki said, March 27th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

When I read these books when I was younger, I didn’t feel like Stacey’s dad was so rich. But then, I didn’t know the cost of living in NYC. Now that I know…DAMN, he definitely had to be rich.

But the child labor thing…I always knew that. My oldest sister had trouble finding a job until she was 16, even though MD law allows 15 year olds to work.

HelenB said, March 27th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Actually, I’ve always assumed that Dawn’s family was quite well off – all that flying couldn’t have been cheap, to begin with. Her mother’s property in Stoneybrook is fairly big and (I think?) historic, so I bet it would have cost a packet, and actually given Dawn’s preference for fresh organic food, their food bill would be larger than most.

Then there’s Mallory – she has a family of eight but I don’t think we ever hear of anyone wearing hand-me-downs, which is what happens in most large families that I know.

In fact, the two families who I least suspect to be secretly rich are Jessi’s and Claudia’s, although they can still afford to pay for their daughters’ extra curricular activities so they can’t exactly have been strapped for cash either!

Annabelle said, March 27th, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Maybe because Stacey didn’t live in an OMG111!!!REALLIVEMANSION!!111!!! =)

Good point about Abby, though. Maybe when her mom bought the house, the market values were down?

Annabelle said, March 27th, 2009 at 4:46 pm

By the way, Nikki, I’m also from Maryland, and I got my first job when I was 14. I worked at a now-defunct children’s museum called Imagine That, which was staffed entirely by teenagers (except the managers, who were older). But still, I was one of the youngest employees there.

bananabomb said, March 27th, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I always thought Mr. McGill had to be pretty well off. When he and the Mrs. got divorced, his alimony and child support was enough for Mrs. McGill to buy a house.

And, Stacey went on the Hawaii and Europe field trips, and while in London, she bought clothes at Harrod’s. Not cheap there either.

bbb said, March 30th, 2009 at 1:24 am

Maybe it had something to do with Kristy’s “humble” beginnings – by continuing to draw attention to the fact that she now lives with a Real Live Millionaire, it’s emphasizing that real-life fairy tale ending the writers liked so much (see Mary Anne’s dad and Dawn’s mom becoming the “isn’t that romantic?!” reunited lovebirds.)

greer said, March 30th, 2009 at 2:06 am

@Sadako: good point about Abby! I forgot about her. @Abby: To be honest, considering the kind of lifestyle the McGills lead in NYC, I do feel like they had to be millionaires. @HelenB: Well, Sharon said she got it cheap because it needed work and stuff. I do feel like the Schafers were well-off, although not millionaires.

I suppose that Stacey could have not realized quite how rich she was, since she seemed to run with a rich crowd in NYC.

tinypants said, March 31st, 2009 at 4:40 pm

I could go either way on this. My gut is Stacey’s rich, but I don’t think millionaires rich — we’re thinking abt NYC now, but NYC in the late 80s? Even on the UWS, not that crazy expensive — real estate there doesn’t go nuts till post-Giuliani. So yeah, they’re well off, but not “real-life millionaires” a la Watson.

Similarly, in “Stacey’s Choice,” Mrs. McGill is all freaking out and trying to get a job because she doesn’t think child support etc. will be enough for them to live off. I’m pretty sure in this one Stacey also contemplates the possibility of getting a job herself.

Don’t get me started on inaccuracies around Abby and the other members of the BSC — she lives in the same nabe as Kristy is a good point, but also her mom COMMUTES to the city, while the McGills always feel compelled to up and move as if a 40-minute train ride from Stamford were just too much for ol’ Mr. McGill.

greer said, March 31st, 2009 at 7:14 pm

@tinypants: good point about changes in the New York economy.

My take on the McGills: the Stamford branch transfer was due to concerns about stacey’s diabetes–because seriously, wouldn’t a trade to the Stamford branch be a demotion? Usually the New York office of a company is the biggest, right? And then the McGills weren’t getting along and I get the impression that Ed didn’t like the pace in the Brook so much. So when he got transferred back, they decided to go back to the city because Ed liked it.

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said, April 1st, 2009 at 1:32 pm

It’s interesting how the writing can influence you. I always thought of them as comfortably well off girls with Kristy living in the mansion as the only super rich one. But then I’m pretty sure all the stuff they do in New York – group tickets to Broadway shows, dinner at Tavern on The Green, etc, are pretty expensive. Stacey buying replacement clothes in Harrods in the last super special was just ridiculous though, like the author hadn’t done any research. They sell handbags that cost more than a month’s rent, not fun clothes for thirteen year olds on a school trip…

Eowyn said, April 1st, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Thank you! I’ve noticed that Stacey family had to be really well off for years! For me it was also really obvious with Dawn because anyone that lives in a beach town has to be living the good life. I’m from California myself.

mizzmarvel said, April 5th, 2009 at 11:02 am

Yeah, Dawn’s father is at least upper middle class if he owns a home in Orange County, and seeing as Palo City is mostly white (this still boggles my mind) and FAMOUS PRODUCER Maggie’s dad lives there, it’s probably on the affluent side.

I also always got the sense that Sharon’s parents were fairly well off, since they looked down on Richard’s humble beginnings.

corduruoyspocket said, May 26th, 2009 at 8:30 am

that’s honestly one of the things that bugs me when rereading the books now-how the narrator has to mention that Kristy lives in a MANSION and that Watson is wealthy. it just seems really tacky to me (although I never thought about it growing up.)

charmecia said, January 14th, 2010 at 7:23 pm

ok the reason why dawn is quite wealthy
if you read dawn and the impossible three
it could explain why dawn’s family is on the wealthy side
her grandparents are known for being very wealthy
especially since the father was a banker
and the reason why they didnt like richard
(mary-anne’s father)
was because he was on the poor side
and wanted sharon(dawn’s mother)
to marry someone richer
and more well off
and you do have a point
dawn’s father also has to be on the wealthy side too
especially since dawn’
s grandparents arranged it too

charmecia said, January 14th, 2010 at 7:27 pm

and i say all of them is quite wealthy
cause if mallory’s family was poor
the kids would of wore hand me downs
instead of going to the mall
or any other place most of the time
jessi wouldnt afford to go to ballet school
and to juliard in new york
claudia wouldnt of afford those art supplies
and art classes
and her family certainly wouldnt afford to send jaime to college
nor go on those trips
(like maine and lobster and the mountain resorts)
mary anne wouldnt of gotten all of that make up kit
as well as that haircut at that fancy salon
and well
you all know the rest
but they also wouldnt afford to go on those trips in the specials either
so i dont think none of them are poor

slucky said, January 15th, 2010 at 9:26 am


just letting you know i re-read ‘stacey’s choice’ today, and in it – her dad was promoted to vice president of the company. so he was pretty wealthy.

JemGrrl said, March 13th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Claudia’s parents are partner in an investment firm and head librarian and those aren’t exactly “humble” paying positions. Mary Anne’s father is an attorney and attorneys get paid quite well…so we know the two of them didn’t exactly do without, either. According to the Complete Guide, Kristy’s mom=”works for a big company in Stamford” and Watson is a CEO–so Kristy is the only one who probably really grew up with hand-me-downs and less extra curriculars; all we know about Stacy’s father is that he’s a VP of a company and Stacey’s mom is now a buyer for Bellair’s–a perfectly middle class position, but probably receiving a good chunk of child support for Stacey; Mary Anne’s dad has his OWN law firm in Stamford…so she’s probably quite a bit more well off than Claudia…probably ranks #4 or so in the club as far as the money tree is concerned; ‘Guide doesn’t list a job for Dawn’s mom-in either Cali or Conn, Dawn’s dad=well no job info for him, either; Abby’s mom=exec editor of a publishing firm in NYC…I could see the reason behind living in Kristy’s neighborhood, but to this day I can’t imagine any house in Kristy’s neighborhood being a “mansion.” Abby’s dad used to be an environmental engineer, so the widow’s pension and future soc sec her mom will receive will likely be hefty; doesn’t say what Jessi’s dad does, but the company moved them and found the house for them, then he was promoted, apparently her mom wasn’t working for awhile, then went back into advertising; Mallory’s dad used to be a corporate lawyer (hello, supporting 8 kids) then had to take lower pay after the layoff, her mom has pretty much been a housewife most of the series albeit the quick temp job and her library trustee position; Shannon’s dad is described as a laywer in a big firm…so if that’s the case then how come she is described as living in a mansion in Kristy’s neighborhood, when Mallory’s dad was a corporate laywer just the same and Mary Anne’s dad OWNS his law firm…wouldn’t they live in that neighborhood, too? Anyway, after all that, I just don’t see how any of them weren’t “well off” except for Kristy in the beginning. I do, however, think that the idea of Kristy’s new neighborhood as kind of outlandish when you stand back and look at the big picture.

Alycia said, May 18th, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I’ve been to the area in Connecticut where I think Stoneybrook is supposed to be, circa Fairfield County, which is one of the most expensive counties in the United States and home to folks like Martha Stewart. But I really think the people who live there do not see themselves as that rich, just comfortable. I always thought the movie did a good job of depicting these obviously upper middle class families and put them in appropriate houses for the 80s/90s.

As for the lawyer thing, not all lawyers make tons of money. And just because someone does make a lot of money, it doesn’t he has to live in a huge house. And most of America lives off of credit cards, which only gets mentioned when the McGills are divorcing and yelling about the bill from Tiffanys.

» Early Ann Books Readalong: Conclusion Stoneybrookite: the best friends you’ll never have said, June 30th, 2014 at 11:03 am

[...] it’s not that different from Stoneybrook, with everyone’s dad being a lawyer and Stacey’s dad’s glamorous life, but the houses weren’t quite noticeably as extragavant. It is very noticeable in these [...]

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