Just like with yesterday’s post about Anne of Green Gables, you may be wondering if when I say The Baby-Sitters Club is a perfect comfort for these here pandemic times, do I mean the Netflix show that came out last year, the classic book series, or even the graphic novels that were first published in 2006?
And the answer, once again, would be yes. Of course I mean all of those things.
Look, here’s the thing. I grew up reading the book series, right? These books mean very much a lot to me. I would go to the bookstore and buy the next book every month (this is back when middle grade and YA books came out in paperback first and were also affordable–and also when book series were released one month at a time), and so basically I had a very large collection. The series also came out around the same time as Golden Girls, so the idea of a four-top of female friends was basically imprinted on me as some of the best kind of serial storytelling. My favorite of the regular books was The Truth About Stacey, but I also fondly remember Mary Anne’s Makeover because I’m a huge nerd and that’s where I learned the word “pariah.” And, of course, whenever I need a true pick me up, I read the very first super special, Baby-Sitters on Board, in which the girls and many of their charges go on a cruise before heading to Disney World. I, of course, then became obsessed with taking a cruise/Disney vacation, and it is still my absolute dream to take a Disney Cruise once cruises are safe again. That book was also super important because it’s the first time I learned someone could be in a wheelchair and their legs could work fine. I mean, it really blew my mind.
Oh, and I also love Snowbound, the super special about them getting stuck in a huge snowstorm–mostly because Stacey’s mom somehow uses her Mom-dar to find their snow covered lump of a car out of all the snow covered lumps in the parking lot and Stacey is just IN AWE. Hahahaha. So great.
Anyway, the point is, the books are very, very important to me on a soul level and I found the Netflix series to be the Mary Poppins of series (practically perfect in every way). Watching it literally made me happy down in my bones, not only because of how faithful it is to the original series but also how most of the changes they made ramped up the diversity and showed how these stories about these four girls are still relevant to our times. Not to mention that the show and the books are about regular middle schoolers doing regular middle school things, and the conflicts they face are rooted right in the reality that kids face every day.
I am also deeply, deeply touched that they recreated many of the iconic book covers in moments on the show.
Also, I can’t believe the show actually made me like Dawn, a character I was mostly neutral about before.
(My biggest complaint is mostly about Mary Anne’s dad. I love that she is now biracial, and I like the actor who plays her dad A LOT, but I wish they had cast a Black actor to play her dad since there are currently no Black parents on the show. Also, Jessi shows up at the end, but–in keeping with what seems to be the Netflix credo–they cast a light-skinned actor to play her as well. Which–you know–I’m sure the actress is delightful and all but also sigh.
My other complaint is that I wish the series had been 13 episodes and not 10. I needed more. Thankfully, the show has been picked up for another season, whew.)
The graphic novels are also super great EVEN THOUGH The Truth about Stacey is the second book instead of the third and they shuffle the order of some of the later books as well. I can trust that there’s a reason to that process, but it really chafes my hide because I’m a purist about some things. Still, the graphic novels nicely modernize, update, and really capture the essence of all the characters, and you can tell that the books meant as much to Raina Telgemeier as they did to most of us. Oh, and plus also basically any edition of Claudia and Mean Janine manages to give me the eye sweats. Mimi!
I know I didn’t mention the TV show from 1990 even though I must have watched it because that theme song is the first thing I think of when I see that BSC is going to be on TV–so much so that I don’t even know/remember if the new show has a theme song.
So, yeah, you can’t go wrong with the Baby-Sitters Club for nostalgia, empowerment, and also just feeling like you’ve been hugged at all times.
Oh, and @designingclaudia is a fun Instagram to follow because the artist draws Claudia’s outfits from the books. The Baby-Sitters Club really is the comforting gift that keeps giving.
For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have decided that I’m going to focus on comfort reads/watches as we enter our second (!) April in the pandemic. Tune in tomorrow to see what I choose for C!