The world’s best babysitters are back! Netflix announced that bestselling book series The Baby-Sitters Club will get a live-action television revival, and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited.
Usually, I’m not a big fan of reboots (how about telling some new stories for a change, Hollywood?) but I’ll make an exception for my favorite babysitters, especially since they were never given their proper onscreen due in the first place. The series is a feminist anthem and these girls deserve to live on through a new generation.
Ann M. Martin’s beloved series centers around a close-knit group of friends — Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey — as they navigate growing up alongside managing their growing business in the fictional town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut.
After watching her mother struggling to line up a babysitter, Kristy pitches a babysitting business idea to her friends, and The Baby-Sitters Club is born. Together, the BSC founding foursome created a business plan, designed a logo, and established club rules and regulations. They each uphold a different leadership position within the club: Kristy is the President, Claudia is Vice President, Mary Anne is the Secretary, and Stacey is the Treasurer.
As their babysitting business expands, so does their club roster. Dawn Schafer tumbles in from California; eleven-year-olds (!) Mallory and Jessi are appointed as junior members. Logan, Mary Anne’s boyfriend, is relegated to a token boy member spot, and Abby and Shannon join the group in later books.
Though Netflix promises to give the series a contemporary spin, certainly one appealing part of the BSC’s return is the nostalgia factor. After all, they were the original female foursome, a precursor to the Sex and the City ladies. Long before I labeled myself a Carrie, I labeled myself a Mary Anne (or a Kristy, depending on the day).
Like many other ‘90s babies, I grew up with the BSC. My mom, an avid garage sale bargain-hunter, would often come across another BSC exploit buried in a stack of books, being sold for maybe a quarter or two. There were always more of them to find (the BSC gang is featured in a whopping 131 books, and that doesn’t even include the super specials) and more of them to devour. To this day, bookshelves in my parents’ basement are jammed end-to-end with their cracked pastel spines.
But there’s more reason to be excited about a BSC reboot than just childhood nostalgia. There was something surprisingly radical about The Baby-Sitters Club and its core messages still hold up today. The members were a diverse mix (by 1986 standards) who came from all walks of life and held very different perspectives. The series wasn’t afraid to tackle difficult issues like racism, illness, and divorce in between the everyday teen mundanity of homework, crushes, and of course, babysitting jobs.
The BSC series provided some of my first exposure to dynamic female friendships, diversity, and entrepreneurship. In sixth grade, I ran for class secretary, primarily because I aspired to be like Mary Anne. When I became old enough to babysit, I borrowed ideas from the books to make myself more marketable. In the vein of Kristy and the gang, I fashioned my own Kid Kit of coloring books and toys and stickers to bring along to babysitting gigs, hoping to demolish my competition.
The lasting legacy of The Baby-Sitters Club is undeniable; more than 30 years after the Stoneybrook gang entered the scene, the idea of a children’s series about young women in leadership roles still feels groundbreaking. The fact that they executed the entire business model without a parent’s coercion, or even input, feels especially refreshing, even more so in a modern context given how helicopter-parented and overscheduled today’s kids are.
The Baby-Sitters Club taught me lessons about leadership, acceptance, and entrepreneurship, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I believe those girls were some of my greatest childhood role models. It’s been so long since I’ve envied Claudia’s killer fashion sense and longed for Stacey’s math skills; I can’t wait to see what our girls are up to these days and where their stories will take us in the Netflix revival. Most of all, I hope the BSC brings the next generation of girls the same amount of joy that the book series brought to me.