Based on the popular book series by Ann M Martin, The Baby-Sitters Club hinges on the lives of five middle-school girls living in Stony Brook, Connecticut. They come together to create, as the name suggests, a babysitting club. The show focuses on their friendship, their personal conflicts and their adventures and learning along the way.
Five friends, one club
Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, Stacey McGill and Dawn Schafer all attend Stoneybrook Middle School in Connecticut. Kristy is a bossy young tomboy and staunch feminist and also the proud founder and president of The Baby-Sitters Club. Her neighbour and best friend is Mary Anne Spier, a shy and quiet young girl who lives with her strict, disciplinarian father. Their neighbour is Claudia Kishi, a sprightly art enthusiast who’s always wearing cool clothes. Stacey McGill has moved to Stony Brook from New York and harbours a secret, while Dawn too, is new to Stony Brook, having moved from LA with her mother.
The girls are all part of The Baby-Sitters Club, an idea that Kristy had when her mother had a hard time finding a sitter for her brother. The club meets thrice every week and assigns babysitting jobs as per their schedules. Although the premise of the show reflects that of the books, it’s set in the modern day, with plenty of references to Instagram, Gossip Girl and Tinder, none of which existed at the time the books were published between 1986 and 2000.
If you’ve read the series of books, you will like the fact that the creators have retained many aspects, right from Claudia’s secret hiding places for her stash of junk food to Kristy’s signature red cap and the president’s chair. If not, the show is immensely watchable for the unbreakable bond that the girls share and all the drama in each of their lives.
Tweaked for the modern audience
While the books offer comfort reading, the show has been updated to highlight a number of relevant issues. It explores the concept of parenting pretty well. For instance, Kristy believes that Mary Anne’s father treats her like “a china doll in a box”, while Claudia’s parents often set unrealistic academic expectations for their younger daughter.
It also talks about feminism through Kristy, who at first, can’t stand the fact that her mother wears an engagement ring, as though she’s somebody’s property. Through Mary Anne, viewers will learn the importance of standing up for themselves, while Dawn, with her progressive attitude, helps Mary Anne understand the concept of gender and identity when she’s sitting for a young boy who likes to wear sparkly pink dresses.
But above all, the show cleverly weaves a tale of friendship and family and finding the perfect balance between the two. As you will see, it’s not just about a club taking care of children, but the girls taking care of each other.
WATCH OR NOT
While this show may find more fans in those who’ve read the books growing up, those unfamiliar with the source material will enjoy the heartwarming portrait of young girls and what it’s like growing up. Each character is wonderfully fleshed out and it’s hard to pick a favourite. So, if you’re looking for something that’s a light watch but also meaningful in many ways, The Baby-Sitters Club should be just right.
Creator: Rachel Shukert
Based on: The Baby-Sitters Club book series by Ann M Martin
Cast: Sophie Grace, Momona Tamada, Shay Rudolph, Malia Baker, Alicia Silverstone, Xochitl Gomez
Streaming on: Netflix