It’s almost time for another meeting of The Baby-Sitters Club — this time, via Netflix’s 10-episode TV show adaptation of the classic children’s books, which, we are happy to report, is an absolute delight.
If you grew up on Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club series, you’re in for a real treat with this new take. The show is quite faithful to its source material’s story structure, and most of the episodes are even chronologically in line with the first few books. It begins, of course, with the moment that the sporty and take-charge Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace) gets her “great idea” and recruits her lifelong best friend Mary-Anne Spier (Malia Baker), their artistic classmate Claudia Kishi (Momona Tamada), and fashionable newcomer Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph) to launch the BSC.
From there, they deal with some very classic conundrums, including the phantom caller and those pesky high school kids who ripped off their business idea, and the group soon grows with the arrival of the free-spirited Dawn Schafer (Xochitl Gomez) into town. There are tons of throwback elements, including those genius “kid kits” and Kristy’s mom’s (Alicia Silverstone) new relationship, that make this show feel like a trip right back to the late ’80s. There have been a lot of reboots and sequel series which try to play to nostalgia for that era, but this one feels entirely transportative to the halcyon days of spending entire summers in Stoneybrook, reading all about the many trials and triumphs of this small town baby-sitting business. Even the title art honors the vintage look of the books!
However, the new show also nicely incorporates new moments of modernity in the characters’ experiences on the job and at home. Some standout scenes include a heart-warming arc about transgender visibility, several instances of supporting characters enjoying gay love, and a meaningful exploration of the U.S.’s shameful history of racist oppression against Japanese Americans and how it relates to current events. The Baby-Sitters Club is not a heavy show — quite the opposite — but its attention to these issues is very thoughtful and reveals just how compassionate the baby-sitters are. The kids are all right indeed.
Even if you weren’t introduced to the books in your own youth, Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club will still be a joy to watch, no matter your age. The baby-sitters’ adventures are grounded in realism — for example, Dawn sits for a newly-divorced and forgetful mother of three who’s working to get back into show business, and Stacey has to gently let down a young boy who develops a crush on her — and the sitters experience many relatable trials and triumphs within their families, too, which they always approach with kindness. Most importantly, they all understand the meaning of true friendship and what it takes to preserve that unity. The five young actresses leading the show are also in tune with their characters and do an incredible job with their scene work in even the most emotionally mature moments. The result is a grounded and blissful little binge that’ll brighten your own world.
TV Guide Rating: 5/5
The Baby-Sitters Club premieres on Netflix on Friday, July 3.