the best friends you’ll never have

Not long ago, there was a post on the BSC Snark livejournal comparing the TV actresses to the movie ones. Veteran BSC snarker 3-foot-6 mentioned that she felt that the tv show did a better job capturing the feelings of the books because the books were really more of a late 80s/mid 90s thing, whereas the movies came out in 1995. She says,

I recently decided the reason the movie sucks is that it was just made too late. The whole movie is so quintessentially 1995 – baby doll dresses! Girl power soundtrack! – and the books are so rooted in the late 80s and early 90s. The whole fashion/slang/culture aesthetic is off just enough that it doesn’t feel familiar to fans. Whereas the TV show is right there in the horrible fashion and shitty dialogue wheelhouse of the books.

This is an interesting point, because, as someone who started reading in 1993, the books that I read when they were new, which probably began around the 70s or so, are the ones that feel the most BSC to me. I understand that this is a blasphemy for many in the BSC fandom, since by this time, the quality had dropped down considerably and Ann was only writing outlines by this point. But like I have said before, BSC has never been something that I’ve read for the quality in the first place; it’s something I’ve always read for a feeling, for a fantasy. The books that came out in the mid-90s and later are the ones that conicide with my own childhood. They are the ones that didn’t already seem kind of outdated when I read them the first time around. Kristy’s Great Idea already felt a little old when I read it the first time at the end of first grade.

I’m not sure, actually, why so many people consider the BSC to be an 80s series in the first place. Yes, it started in 1986, but sales-wise, the series peaked in around 1992. Mary Anne and Dawn’s parents hadn’t even gotten married yet by the end of the 1980s. Only 29 regular series books, three Super Specials, and six Little Sister books had come out by December 1989. Going by numbers, the BSC is really more of a 90s phenomenon, in my opinion.

Perhaps I feel this way because I only became aware of the BSC series when I started school, and barely remember the late 80s. To me, the BSC is rooted in my childhood, which 1995 would probably be considered the apex of, and long-time readers of this blog or people who have interacted with me on various fora know that I make no bones about much preferring the ghostwritten books, ones that focus more on interesting topics such as boy drama and malling-used-as-a-verb.

I do realize that this is an unpopular opinion, though. Agree? Disagree? Should we do a final four bracket of the various BSC ghostwriters and Ann, ending in a Peter Lerangis vs Ann M. Martin smackdown? OMG I might actually do this.

10 Responses To This Post

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specialj67 said, July 18th, 2012 at 6:26 am

I agree with you. I also came to the series about 1993, when I got Super Special #10 as a Christmas present. BSC always felt like a thoroughly ’90s series to me since that’s when I got into it. Though I read every book pre-110 or so, the ones I go back to when I’m feeling nostalgic tend to be those that came out in the mid-1990s, so like #60-100 and the later mysteries. I also have a ridiculous love for the Super Mysteries. And I would totally love it if you did a bracket!

nikki said, July 18th, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I think it all depends on your age. I started reading the BSC books when they were first released in 86 and I had outgrown them by 90. I read a couple years longer because I had a younger sister who still got them. I was an adult with my own YA blog before I even picked up a BSC book beyond number forty-something. So to me, it’s an eighties series. But I don’t think that makes it definitely an eighties series – it’s all about the readers’ perspective.

Emily said, July 18th, 2012 at 7:37 pm

To me, the ultimate BSC era was the early 90s. The books written from around 1990 to 1992 captured the series’ essence the best, in my opinion. I started the series from the beginning in 1991, since my cousin had duplicates of the first few books. I became hooked.

greer said, July 18th, 2012 at 9:56 pm

@nikki: That’s exactly what I meant. The era that really encapsulates what the BSC is is going to be different for every reader. :)

@specialj67: I might do it, maybe next year around final four :)

Eowyn said, July 18th, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Circa ’95 was the Golden Age of the BSC.

Andrea Jean said, July 19th, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I read the books mostly from about ’89 to ’91, which is roughly books 20 to 50. But of course I went back to the earlier books, and for me the Golden Era (ie the best books) are 1-30ish. The last one I remember reading before I got “too old” was Keep Out, Claudia :)

chocolatechip15 said, August 5th, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Interesting post . .I started reading the books around 1991, and stopped reading them (as a kid) around # 70 . .and I do much prefer the earlier books.

BUT I also think the movie is MUCH better than the TV show. I saw the TV show on the Disney Channel as a kid during the same years when I read the books, and even then I thought the acting was bad and the storylines not that interesting (though I did love the theme song.). I didn’t see the movie for years after it came out, but when I did see it (albeit as an adult), I loved it and thought it captured the spirit of the BSC much more . .first because the actresses actually looked like they were 11-13 years old (most of the actresses on the TV show looked way older to me), and because the storylines (some of them, anyway) were much more interesting. . .Kristy’s, I think, is the most touching, and it forms the heart of the movie.

helenfb said, August 14th, 2012 at 2:04 am

I read the BSC books MUCH later – probably 1996/97 onwards. That’s probably why I never had a problem with Abby, like a lot of people do! I also got into the series through the “Mystery” spin-offs, rather than through the main series.

playing_horses said, January 6th, 2014 at 6:38 pm

It always felt more of a 90s series than an 80s series. I didn’t get into the series until I was nine years old in…2005. The early books (#1-#29) meant extra to me which took place in the 80s. But the “Golden Age” was probably from 1986-1993. That’s just an estimate, though.

greer said, February 6th, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I think MOST consider the golden age to be the early books written by Ann, but I like the more drama-filled later books better. As I like to say, I’m not reading BSC for the quality. I do think ’92-’93 was the peak of popularity, though.

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