the best friends you’ll never have

Browsing in Stacey McGill

Stacey’s style, like Stacey herself, is always referred to in the books as being “sophisticated.” We know she likes to wear black, and buys clothes at Bloomingdales and other expensive places. She likes Betsey Johnson, which, while I wouldn’t exactly call it “sophisticated,” is pretty logical for what a stylish thirteen-year-old-girl would like.

The covers, however, tell a different story. On many covers, she looks so mature that she ends up looking more like someone who would call the Baby-Sitters Club for a sitter, rather than its treasurer.

Take the cover of Stacey’s Broken Heart, for example.

Stacey, you are no Kathy Santoni.

Only one image can come to mind for fans of both Full House and the BSC, and that is from the episode “Back to School Blues,” where DJ shows up for the first day of Junior High wearing the same outfit as the lunch monitor.

I think we all can imagine Stacey showing up to school in the outfit depicted on the cover of Broken Heart and realizing she was dressed just like Mrs. Ensign.

Now, later on, Stacey’s outfits are pretty much in line with how I remember the mid-90s. Lots of sweaters with stripes around the middle, for instance. Her hair is bobbed instead of permed. But really, is it sophisticated? To me, it looks just like what you could buy in any juniors’ department in the country at the time. So I’m not sure how they could have communicated that Stacey was a sophisticated dresser without it looking like she was middle aged mother or your typical teen. Maybe more black?

Stacey’s fashion, like so many other things in the series, was told to us, rather than shown. How would you have dressed a sophisticated thirteen-year-old girl from 1986-2000?

If you read BSC Snark, you will have noticed that in the last week or so, there has been a rash of anti-Stacey snarks and comments. And longtime readers of this blog know that I am an inverterate fan of Stacey. So I thought I’d just talk about how I view Stacey, and why I like Stacey so much.

Part of the reason I like her so much is BECAUSE she is flawed. She makes mistakes, like putting boys before friends, or ditching her BSC friends for cool new ones, or the entire plot of Stacey’s Secret Friend. But these mistakes are ones that lots of girls make during their middle school/high school years–and some make their whole lives–and Stacey making these mistakes, and learning from them, helps younger BSC readers see the folly of prioritizing a dumb boy who will only cheat on you later over Claudia, or ditching your true-blue BFFs for some other girls who promise excitement, but will only get you in trouble when they sneak airplane bottles of wine in their flop socks into a U4Me concert. You don’t learn these kinds of lessons from Fandom Saint Janine Kishi. (No hate on Janine here, though; I <3 Janine.) Is Stacey basically a hosebeast throughout all of Stacey’s Secret Friend, as the latest snark of this book posits? Of course! But she also learns that she is a hosebeast in the end, and understands that this caused her to miss out on having a really cool friend from PARIS, a city even more impossibly sophisticated than New York.

The other reason I like Stacey is because I relate to her. We have similar interests and family situations. But I can also relate to Mallory in some ways, and this was especially when I was in middle school. I think a lot of people who are involved in the fandom relate to Mallory, and this is perhaps why Stacey, the most popular baby-sitter throughout the entire run of the series, gets so much hate within it. Most of us–myself included–were the Tesses or the Spaz Girls or the uncool friend thrown over for cool new ones. We did not have cool permed hair and sophisticated designer wardrobes.

As children reading the books, however, we might not have realized our eventual fate, and probably some girls who were reading the book and idolized Stacey did become that girl in middle or high school. Stacey represents a cool, sophisticated, permed fantasy, and this is why she was always so popular. Now, I would say I like Stacey best because of the aforementioned ways I relate to her, and the fact that her plots are generally the ones I find to be the most interesting. I also like that she is arguably the most intelligent of the BSC, if you don’t count associate member Shannon. I haven’t kept track, but I would guess that when I do go back to reread BSC, I probably reach for Stacey books the most.

Where do you fall in the Pro-Stacey/Anti-Stacey debate?

Inspired by this series.

KRISTY is a very successful entrepreneur. I see her being a serial entrepreneur, always with the next great big idea. Social media, innovative new ideas for charity start ups, whatever, she’s into it. Watson probably gave her some seed money for her first venture, but she made it back ten fold and now gets her funding like anyone else. I have never had a clear read on Kristy’s sexuality as an adult, but whoever she marries would probably end up being a stay-at-home parent, and Kristy has four kids and tries to make it to as many of their softball games as she can.

CLAUDIA is a high school art teacher. New York was too expensive, and the practical Kishis wouldn’t support her art career financially. So she came back to Stoneybrook, and teaches art while taking care of her superbly dressed son with Alan Gray.

STACEY is like Lauren Santo Domingo, only insanely good at math. Worked for LVMH before starting her own fashion-related company. Has one kid, a husband in finance, a nanny, a housekeeper, an apartment in New York, and a house in the Hamptons.

MARY ANNE is a high school guidance counselor. She lives in a small seaside town in Maine, not far from Reese, with her husband, who is a chef at a restaurant frequented by wealthy tourists. Basically, she’s Susan Branch without the cookbooks.

DAWN lives in California and works for an environmental non-profit. Her husband was a lawyer, but they fought a lot, and now she’s divorced with two kids.

MALLORY lives in New York City and is a writer. I secretly think Mallory=Ann, even if Ann says Mary Anne was based on her. So just picture Ann’s life, and give her red hair.

JESSI went to Dance New York soon after the series ended. After a stint dancing professionally, she now teaches dance and is married to a fellow dancer with a daughter named Mary Rose.

ABBY decided she wanted to be on SNL. She didn’t make it, but turned her hilarious LA experiences into a successful blog, which landed her a position on the staff of a ladyblog. She is too independent for a partner of either sex, and prefers shorter affairs. She is thinking of adopting at a later date.

SHANNON used her facility with languages and general all-around brains to get a job with the State Department. She is still looking for Mr. Right, but her experiences with her family growing up have deep down soured her on the idea of marriage and family in general.

LOGAN stayed in Stoneybrook and married Dorianne Wallingford after she got pregnant at 19. He manages a sporting goods store. They have two boys and a girl. Dorianne writes an aspirational lifestyle/mommy blog, and she makes more money than Logan does with her sponsorships and whatnot.

My favorite Stacey outfit is far easier. It has always been the kind of out-there outfit Stacey wears to her dad’s dinner in Stacey’s Choice. Now, I think some people might question wearing a leotard to such a fancy event, but I love that Stacey went with something daring and fashion-forward. Leotards are so Edie Sedgwick. Plus, light pink and black is one of my favorite color combos.

Now, the real question–who is your preferred BSC Fashion Plate, Claudia or Stacey? Or do you hate both and prefer Kristy’s “uniform,” Mary Anne’s selections from the LL Bean catalog, Dawn’s California Casual, Jessi’s “I didn’t have time to change after ballet,” Mallory’s desire for glitter, or Abby’s umbros?

Well, as much as people might expect me to say “Stacey,” I’m going to go with another choice. If you don’t keep up with BSC Stamped on LJ, this month, they’re doing California Diaries stamps. I was stamped as Sunny, and while I was stamped as Stacey when they were stamping people as the BSC members, I have more in common with Sunny, I think.

Anyway, I actually could see myself being friends with the Palo City crowd far easier than I could see myself being friends with those in the ‘Brook. Maybe it’s because I’m older? Or maybe it’s because I don’t like children all that much.

One of the problems I’m having with this Challenge is that for some of the questions, as a person who has blogged upon the BSC on and off for years and who has participated in online discussion communities for just as long, I feel like I’ve already answered them sufficiently enough. This happens to be one them.

I am, as long-time readers of this blog probably know, an unabashed Ethan Carroll fangirl. Now, we all know that my girl Stacey, as my teacher of (language of country I currently reside in) said today, “changes men like gloves.” Ethan, however, is undoubted the coolest. He is an ARTIST. He has an EARRING. For a while, he had BLEACHED HAIR. He has a PSYCHO STALKER EX (oh wait, that part wasn’t so cool). Unlike all of the other guys the BSC dated, with the exception of MAYBE Trevor Sandbourne, but I probably wouldn’t want to date a poet because then you’d have to listen to their poetry and who wants that, I would totally date Ethan if he weren’t fictional and ten years younger than me.

I find it interesting, now that I’m thinking about it, that Stacey seems to like to surround herself with artistic people. Both her best friend and her boyfriend are artists. Perhaps Stacey herself has a hidden artistic soul she hides with her talent for numbers, and lives vicariously through Claudia and Ethan. Although she did mention that she was good at interior decorating, and she obviously has a keen eye for fashion, so perhaps Stacey should try picking up a sketchpad one of these days.

As always: Original thread is here.

I also feel like this is a question I’ve answered already on this blog. My favorite book of the regular series is Stacey and the Bad Girls. I like the mid-90sness of it all, the descriptions of the Bad Girls, seeing someone have a life without meeting Monday-Wednesday-Friday from 5:30 to 6.

Oh Stacey, you’re not a “grunge sponge;” U4Me just sing the best songs! And watch out for miniature bottles of wine hidden in flop socks! It is always hilarious whenever the series attempts to deal with Teenage Rebellion (see: Logan Bruno, Boy Baby-Sitter.)

I’m a fan of later Stacey books in general, really, from Stacey and the Cheerleaders on. They deal mostly with Stacey’s boy problems, and once she gets rid of Robert, we get… Ethan, easily the hottest/coolest of any BSC boyfriend.

Second day of the Challenge! Remember, if you’d like to play along, you can do it in the comments, at the original thread, or on your own blog, like Donica at SMS Cafeteria.

And now, without further adieu: Least Favorite Sitter!

Much like with the “Favorite Sitter” question, anyone who reads this blog or is vaguely acquainted with me probably already knows the answer. Logan. Bruno. Shall I count the ways?

Logan is basically the opposite of my ideal guy. Jock, pushy, makes lame MAN JOKES. Logan is the kind of person who finds Two and a Half Men to be an example of a truly great sitcom.

Then there is the whole Mary Anne-and-Logan relationship, which was at its best in FF#3, when she finally got rid of his ass once and for all. Why does their relationship bug me so much? MA&L represent some kind of bizarre, unpopular quiet girl wish fulfillment. It was always believable for Stacey to have tons of boyfriends. Kristy and Bart were more like friends who played baseball and then sometimes also went to the movies and dances together, and when Bart wanted more, Kristy freaked out. Ben Hobart and Mallory had a cute, clandestine, redheaded relationship. Ok, maybe Quint was a creeper. But this isn’t “creepiest eleven-year-old horndog;” this is “least favorite sitter.”

MA&L had a very serious, adult relationship, in eighth grade. And it was just never believable to me that this popular jock also baby-sat and was into Mary Anne because she was shy and sensitive. What. Girl was barely out of braids when they got together. I also could never see strict Richard sanctioning something like that for Mary Anne. My parents would have been freaked out by the intensity, and they were nowhere near as strict as Richard.

I feel like that whole relationship gave the girls who read the series the idea that when they were in eighth grade, some hunky guy with a cute accent would transfer into their school and love them for their true selves. Let’s face it, those of us who obsessively read the BSC, no matter how awesome we are now, probably were not the most desired girls in our middle schools. We were not the Staceys. Most of us, myself included, probably see more of our middle school selves in Mallory’s “Spaz Girl” experience than Stacey being too pretty to be a part of the cheerleading squad. And that, besides his controlling jerkhead personality, is why I dislike that whole storyline/Logan Bruno so much.

Over at the BSC Boards, user bookwormv1 has come up with a 30 Day BSC Challenge. Play along there, in the comments here, on tumblr, wherever! If you want to play along somewhere other than here in the comments or in the original post, put a link in the comments!

So the first day asks the classic question of which Sitter is your favorite. I think that everyone who has read this blog for a while or interacted with me in the fandom knows my answer to this question. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Stacey McGill girl. I will defend her through all sorts of criticism: being a crappy friend/bitch (have you interacted with a middle school girl lately? Stacey’s pretty darn nice, comparatively!), sluttiness (girl can’t help it if she has game), whatever.

Stacey is super smart, and not afraid to show off her brains. She is stylish. She is independent. I can relate to her more than any of the other sitters.

It is interesting, though, how my favorite sitter has changed over the years. When I first started reading the series, I liked Kristy, because I fancied myself quite the tomboy and very much wished to be athletic, and admired her leadership qualities/bossiness. There was a Dawn stage, where I, too, was interested in the environment and wanted very very long hair. Claudia appeals to my artistic side, although frankly, her spelling is just too bad for me to justify removing Stacey from the top spot.

Interestingly, despite a lifelong affinity for writing and reading, Mallory has never even cracked the top five.

I feel like it’s high time that I wrote something here on the rereleases, but I’ve had a hard time deciding how I feel about them. I am kind of bummed that 2010 is shaping up to be the biggest year in BSCland since ten years ago, when the series ended, and I’m not living in a country where I can really fully participate in what’s going on. The only way I’ll be able to access any of the new books until July is if Amazon decides to put them on the Kindle (go to the pages for the books on and let them know you want them on the Kindle! Do it for me, and, I guess, fans who want to read the books on the subway without anyone else knowing and other BSC fans living abroad who have an ipod touch and the Kindle app), or if someone types up an ebook of them and I can find it somewhere, although I feel that the attitude of the fandom will be similar to the attitude that is taken toward the graphic novels and Main Street. They’re in print, so let’s vote with our dollars and let Scholastic know that these should continue to be published.

Anyway, now that the personal stuff is out of the way, one of the biggest controversies is how the series will be updated. We know that the clothes and hairstyles will be changed to reflect current trends–although, frankly, are trends today (leggings! oversize!) all that different, except now we’ve combined acid-wash jeans and leggings to make JEGGINGS? I’m wearing jeans with zippers on the bottom right now, a style I first was made aware of by the Club. Fresh! Also, the new outfits I’ve heard of so far (featured in the prequel) sound way more hideous. From the USA Today blog post:

Claudia was wearing willowy black pants, cinched at the waist with a drawstring, and a boldly patterned summer shirt with ties that she was adjusting around her midriff. Her
midriff would have been bare, but Claud had slithered into a lacy black tank top before she’d put on the shirt. On her feet were delicate silvery sandals, and her hair, which was looooooong and thick, was held away from her face with two silver combs.

I kind of feel like this isn’t much different from the outfits featured in the series in the late 90s, rather than something a modern 13-year-old would concoct out of thrift store finds and Forever 21. I think Modern Claud would dress like Tavi.

Another issue the reissues bring up is what they’re planning on updating besides the fashions. One thing that has never really sat right with most people in the fandom is the “We don’t care if Jessi is black! We’d like a girl if she were PURPLE and a good sitter!” Even other series of the same time, such as the Saddle Club, didn’t make such a big deal about having a character of a different race, if they reissue the series up until the point where Jessi comes into the picture. See also: Claudia being “exotic.”

Also, I’m sure they’d have to update medical stuff in regard to Stacey. Perhaps she’ll have an insulin pump decorated with glitter or something for her by Claud!

As far as Kristy and Mary Anne go… I don’t know what they’ll update for Mary Anne, because Mary Anne’s early wardrobe seemed very fifties even in the 80s and 90s. I’m having a hard time with modern readers buying the excuse that Watson and Elizabeth need to get married right away so they don’t end up living in sin.

What do you think they’ll update? What would you be sad to see go? What would make you glad?

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