I binged the Netflix Babysitters Club series last weekend. Growing up, I was not a Babysitters Club obsessive like many of my peers. They were one of the many series on offer that I enjoyed. The main thing about them that thrilled me was that, unlike many of the other books I read, they were books that other kids had also read and would talk to me about.
So. Not obsessive. But I’m still filled with nostalgia for them. And, unlike many of my peers seemed to do, I read them mostly in order, so the Netflix series sticking with the order for the first few episodes made me really happy. I told W. the other day that much as women older than us did with Sex and the City, many girls my age strongly identified with a particular BSC character. (In case you’re not familiar with this phenomenon, the main characters on SitC were Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda, and you could buy lots of merch that proclaimed things like “I’m a Samantha.” In case you’re curious, I’m a Charlotte with aspirations of being a Carrie.) Lucy Aniello, director of the Netflix BSC series, describes herself as “a Kristy with a Stacey rising” (and in case you aren’t familiar with that, it’s a reference to astrology. I’m a hard Mallory with some Kristy tendencies, who wished to be Claudia but was too good at school and bad at art to come close. (I did wear coordinated-but-mismatched earrings and hide candy all over my bedroom, though.)
I loved the show. Its tone is amazingly perfect. The performances are great. I would like Alicia Silverstone to be my co-parent, please. All of the things done to update it are beautiful and none of them feel weird. I don’t have a lot to say about the show itself besides that.
What really hit me this time around was Stacey. When I read the books, I was relatively poor, unfashionable (though not without style), and the only big city I had ever been to was Miami. Stacey was so far out of my reach. (By the way, the costume designs on the new show perfectly evoke the original characters; of all of them, though, Stacey’s outfits look the most like I think Stacey’s outfits should.) I was sickly, catching every virus that came my way and maxing out my 10 allowed absences before I started being considered truant, but I wasn’t ill.
Life is different now. Now I’m diagnosed with four chronic illnesses (two mental), with another one undiagnosed but likely. While illness doesn’t define me, it strongly shapes my experiences and decisions. And watching Stacey deal with that moved me so thoroughly. Stacey’s not wanting anyone to know about her diabetes, because then she won’t be a person anymore, she’ll be a sick person. Fearing the consequences. And, the point that actually brought me close to tears: after Stacey goes into insulin shock on the job, her having to face a room full of clients (along with her fellow BSC members, blessedly) and listen to them say things like “Do I even want her watching my kids if something like this could happen again?” (I’m paraphrasing here.) Y’all, the impact of chronic illness on work and hireability is real, and to see it in microcosm for a twelve-year-old was every bit as affecting as seeing it for an adult would be, if not moreso.
Anyway. That was a new perspective. A part of me wants to go read the books again and pay close attention to how my feelings about Stacey are different now.
So. I didn’t have a lot of insight to offer on the series, just my personal response, but if you want to read more about it, here are a bunch of interesting and relevant articles:
- ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Is Back: Help Yourself to the Fridge (New York Times)
- The Baby-Sitters Club Taught Me Everything I Needed to Know About Literary Fiction (New York Times)
- ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Defies and Exceeds Expectations (New York Times)
- How The Baby-Sitters Club raised a generation (Vox)
- ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Gives Us Intersectional Feminism Without the Angst (Gen)
- Why THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB Netflix Series is Even Better Than the Books (Book Riot)