‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Is Comfort TV At Its Finest
Netflix’s adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s beloved book series is bright, wholesome, and joyful—an inviting world to disappear into for when days get too rough
I didn’t read The Baby-Sitters Club growing up, so I have no previous attachment to the girls of BSC, but after binge-watching all 10 episodes of its Netflix adaptation yesterday, I am not ashamed to say that I want these smart, spunky middle-schoolers to be my best friends. More importantly, too, I can now say that I’m a Kristy, through and through.
This is hardly the first adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s beloved book series. In 1990, HBO and Nickelodeon aired a 13-episode TV series, and in 1995, a film based on the novels was released in theaters, to mixed reviews and a disappointing box office. But this isn’t about those adaptations—this is about the 2020 reboot helmed by GLOW showrunner Rachel Shukert and directed by Broad City writer Lucia Aniello.
This new iteration of The Baby-Sitters Club is comfort TV at its finest, and I don’t say that about a lot of shows. I watched it on a whim, thinking I’d just check it out quickly, but within seconds it had already captured my heart. It’s bright, wholesome, and joyful—an inviting world to disappear into for when days get too rough. In an instant, I understood why this book series had been so universally beloved, why it had sold more than a hundred million copies since its debut in 1986.
It’s easy to tell what the show is about, even if you, like me, have never read the books. A group of middle-schoolers, led by Kristy Thomas (Sophia Grace), start a baby-sitting business in their fictional town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut. We follow them on their adventures, mishaps, and fights, as they grow into themselves and into the world. The series stars Momona Tamada, Shay Rudolph, Malia Baker, Xochitl Gomez, and Alicia Silverstone—each of them perfectly cast in their roles. It’s set in current times, so the girls are very much cool Gen Z-ers, buying landline phones from Etsy and referencing shows like Queer Eye. At one point, they look at a landline phone incredulously and wonder if it still works. “It’s iconic,” the great Claudia Kishi says.
The 2020 version of The Baby-Sitters Club has been perfectly updated for contemporary viewers, allowing a young trans actress to play a trans girl (replacing what, in the books, was a spoiled brat) and making the main cast even more diverse. “The Baby-Sitters Club was so inclusive for the time that they were written, and we wanted to carry that through to the present day,” said Shukert in an interview with Vanity Fair. One of things I love best about the show is how distinct each girl’s wardrobe is; how their outfits show off their different personalities; and how, most of all, important pieces or styles of clothing make appearances, still (as I’ve learned)—Kristy’s red baseball cap, Claudia’s artist clothes, and Stacey’s berets.
Watching the BSC’s adventures made me long to be a kid again; it reminded me how joyous and wonderful the world can be. It reminded me of all the beautiful things life has to offer—something I’d often forget, especially given my own mental health struggles. The Baby-Sitters Club is worthwhile television, not just for fans who grew up with the series, and definitely not just for teen girls. It’s delightful and appealing enough to attract viewers of all kinds, including a jaded 23-year old who’s never read any of the books.
Gen Z kids have always been cool. They’re woke, but naturally. They way they’re learning about things like social justice comes organically, because that’s the kind of world they’re living in—a world where it’s as natural as breathing to be on the progressive side of things, to make sure that everyone in the world is treated fairly and justly, and that has never been more clear than in this adaptation.
The Baby-Sitters Club is filled with great moments all around. You’ll laugh out loud, cry, get scared, get frustrated, and get hurt, but your heart will grow a million times bigger as the girls sort out their problems and make-up after fights. You’ll find yourself rooting for every single one of them, and most of all, for the group as a whole.
The Baby-Sitters Club is available to stream on Netflix.
Photos from Netflix