Stoneybrookite

the best friends you’ll never have

I had some trepidation about the new series coming out on Netflix, because obviously, the Baby-Sitters Club means a lot to me, and my hopes were high. The major difference between this series and the 90s TV show and the movie is that this series was created and written by people who are of the age to have grown up with the series themselves. The creator and showrunner, Rachel Shukert, wrote two YA books about Old Hollywood that I loved (I always bummed that they weren’t successful enough to have the series continue). And the pictures I saw looked good, so I was concerned that it wouldn’t live up my to expectations.

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably watched it already, so you know the verdict: It’s great. It’s exactly what I, a BSC superfan, want from a Baby-Sitters Club TV series. It’s updated in the right ways, and has so many callbacks to the original that you know the people writing it are doing it because the BSC was a huge part of their childhood, too. And the acting is almost all fantastic. (They have managed to make Karen likable!)

I’ve already watched it through once, and I’ve decided that I’m going to read the book each episode was based on, and then rewatch each episode with a close eye.

One of the first things we see is a shot of Stoneybrook Middle School. This is exactly what it looks like in my head, down to the font on the sign.

SMS

We meet Kristy and Mary Anne. Kristy has gotten in trouble in class and has to write an “essay” on decorum (100 words is a paragraph, not an essay, and this has bothered me for years), but rather than just shouting “Hooray!”, this time Kristy stood up and said that all PEOPLE are created equal, and didn’t raise her hand. I love this rewrite, because it was something I would do and is fitting with the “girl power” sensibilities of the series.

We do have two moments that deviate from the book, or feel a little off. The first is this joke from Kristy. This feels more like the kind of joke the BAD GIRLS would make, with the hope that someone really can steal the key from the liquor cabinet.

The next is that in the show, Claudia lives next door, not across the street. I once stopped reading a book because they had someone wearing acid-washed jeans in 1983, but I think I’ll let this one slide.

The “eureka!” moment for Kristy is pretty much the same: Kristy’s mother, Alicia Silverstone (I was kind of meh on this casting at first, but Watson is a hot millionaire in this, so…) can’t find a sitter for David Michael (who, by the way, is the weakest actor in this show), and has to call around. There is a Sittercity-esque site, but it costs $80. So Kristy gets her idea, and it takes the same form as described in the 1980s: Call one number at a specific time, reach four twelve-year-olds. I think this is a little unrealistic for our times, since the ages at which it is acceptable to leave kids home alone has changed, but the only way around it would be to make everyone older. And whether or not modern parents would want to only be able to call three times a week is also a question–but again, we’ll just have to suspend our disbelief here.

Another place where we’ll have to suspend our disbelief is the size of Claudia’s room. It’s gigantic, and not messy. Who has that much empty space? I’m not sure of the point of making it that big, but furnishing it so sparsely.

Claudia's room

Claudia is also the shortest of the four girls, but the actress is adorable.

Kristy’s love for sports has so far just been on display in her U.S. women’s soccer team posters, but check out her emails! Lots of baseball stuff in there. I think it’s fun to see how much thought they’ve put into things like this. And you can even see the email from Claudia with the logo and her trademark spelling. (By the way, when I reread the book before my rewatch for this post, I noticed that the edition I have, which is a reprint from the collector’s set, did not preserve Claudia’s bad spelling. I guess they figured it taught kids bad habits or something.)

We also get to meet Janine in this episode, and she is the Janine from my head.

Janine

One interesting plot twist I noticed is that Watson plays a significant role in the early success of the club. He seems to be the one to come up with the idea of dues, he’s their first client, and their initial jobs all seem to come from him. In the book, they all already have their steady clients, and they’re just centralizing the process. Also, while they talk about doing a social media campaign, Janine tells them to just use fliers, but in the book, they also place a newspaper ad, so I don’t see why a small Facebook ad was out of the question here, even if you need to be 13 to have a social media account.

One thing that becomes apparent over the course of the series is that they had to fit entire books into a half-hour show, and a lot of aspects of the books got condensed. I have seen a lot of people say that they think each episode should have been an hour, and I agree. Watson and Elizabeth/Edie/Alicia Silverstone announce their plans to get married the first time Watson makes an appearance, and there is no Pinky and Buffy, and Boo-boo doesn’t run away. Instead, Kristy walks Louie over to Watson’s, even though it’s in a different neighborhood. (Kristy also managed to hide herself from him, even though there is no way he wouldn’t have seen her.) Mrs. Porter/Morbidda Destiny scares Kristy and Louie runs away. I think they condense the events of this book perhaps more successfully than they do in later episodes. I think there’s going to be a second season, based on the reviews and how much chatter I’ve seen about the series in non-BSC spaces, and if that happens, I hope they’ll increase the running time.

Overall, I think the show is, as Claudia would put it, grate. What did you think?

3 Responses To This Post

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Ashley said, July 9th, 2020 at 6:11 pm

I don’t know what I liked more: the show, or the fact that it got you updating the site again! ;) Happy to see a post from you, Greer!

And I don’t really think I need to say it, but I will: I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. The girls are all adorable, I love how it was modernized yet timeless.

Watching it made me VERY nostalgic for the old LiveJournal days, that’s for sure.

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greer said, July 18th, 2020 at 3:42 pm

<3 I'm glad to see so many in the community back in action!

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Myu said, July 28th, 2020 at 1:54 pm

So happy to see you posting again! My thoughts are much the same as yours. I wasn’t expecting to like the reboot so much, but I was actually really impressed. I think they got a brilliant balance between keeping it right for the target audience and keeping parts tongue-in-cheek for the grown-ups (loved loved loved Old Meanie).

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