books, review

Book Adaptation Review: The Babysitters Club

About The Book:

The Baby-Sitters Club (also known as BSC) is a series of novels written by Ann M. Martin and published by Scholastic between 1986 and 2000. The Baby-Sitters Club is about a group of friends who live in the fictional, suburban town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut. These friends run a local babysitting service called “The Baby-Sitters Club”. When publishing ceased in 2000, there had been 213 novels published in the series, 131 books in the main series and the rest across various spin-offs including The Baby Sitter’s Little Sister series, following Karen Brewer, and The Baby-Sitters Club: Mysteries.

About The Show:

The Baby-Sitters Club is an American web television series created by Rachel Shukert based on the children’s novel series of the same name by Ann M. Martin. It was released on Netflix on July 3, 2020. The story setup is still the same: 13-year-old tomboy Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace) decides to start a baby-sitters club with her friends, quiet Mary Anne Spier (Malia Baker), artsy Claudia Kishi (Momona Tanada), and fashionable new girl Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph). Eventually, they’re joined by hippie Dawn (Xochitl Gomez). They take on clients in their small town, while grappling with the struggles of growing up. Each episode follows a book, with the first eight episodes taking their main plot and title from the first eight books of the series. Episodes 9 and 10 are based on Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation, the second book in the Baby-Sitters Club Super Special series.

My Thoughts: (Mild Spoilers)

I read a handful of the books as kid, though they were never my favorite. I was more into the Full House books, The Clique, Sweet Valley High and The Boxcar Children. That said, the show was fun. Not perfect, but if you enjoy Netflix’s character-driven tween shows like Alexa and Katie or The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia, than you’ll probably enjoy this show. The show does a good job of balancing the modern-day setting with some of the more outdated plotlines (explaining the use of a landline for example, a more diverse cast, etc.).

Because I don’t have the nostalgic connection to the books, some of the flaws in the story and the show stand out to me. For example, some conflicts seem rushed and/or glossed over – such as Stacy’s struggle with being ashamed diabetes, which was seemingly over in the course of one episode. The conflict between the club and the agency is also rushed, with the high school girls, being disappointedly one-dimensional.

But the show does a good job of fleshing out the characters, including the parents which is rare for a kids show. The main girls all have fleshed out personalities which make them unique, and while they sometimes lean a bit stereotypical (the Asian-American girl has overly critical, grades-focused parents; the girl  from New York is blonde and rich, etc.) but the show does a good job of diversifying the main cast across race, family situation, socioeconomic status, etc. There was also a casual inclusion of disability (diabetes, aftereffects of a stroke), trans characters (a young client Mary Ann babysits), single dads (Mary Ann’s) and gay characters (Dawn’s dad), which is also disappointingly rare.

The show also does a good job of balancing heavy issues (like misgendering in a medical setting, death of a parent, etc.) with lighter ones (insecurity/shyness, fighting with friends), without trivializing the girls’ feelings or villainizing any of them for struggling or making mistakes, but also not simply excusing poor behavior (for example, Kristy is bossy and kind of rude, but she is frequently called out on it, even while the show explains that her. need to control all things around her comes from trauma over being abandoned by her father).

Have you watched the show? 

Did you ever read these books?

What did you think?

3 thoughts on “Book Adaptation Review: The Babysitters Club”

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