Growing up, I lovingly lined The Baby-Sitters Club (BSC) books numerically along a closet shelf. While my collecting volumes ended decades ago, the affection I have for BSC remains strong. That’s why I was thrilled to receive a screener invite for episode one of Netflix’s new THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB series. Hosted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDIGM), the event included a follow-up Q&A with Showrunner Rachel Shukert and Director and Executive Producer Lucia Aniello.
THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB follows the friendship and babysitting adventures of five best friends in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. In the initial announcement about the show’s release, author Ann M. Martin said, “I’m amazed that there are so many passionate fans of The Baby-Sitters Club after all these years, and I’m honored to continue to hear from readers – now grown, who have become writers, editors, teachers, librarians, filmmakers – who say that they see a reflection of themselves in the characters of Kristy and her friends. So I’m very excited about the forthcoming series on Netflix, which I hope will inspire a new generation of readers and leaders everywhere.”
During the Q&A hosted by GDIGM, Shukert pointed out this is the first adaptation of BSC to be made by people who grew up with the material. Both she and Aniello were obsessive about the books as youngsters. In fact Aniello shared she often shies away from working on reboots or reimagining old material. When her agent asked what project she’d never turn down, the answer was BSC. It’s no coincidence the main character Kristy sits down in a Director’s Chair in both the first book and first episode of the Netflix series.
When initially discussing the project, Shukert and Aniello realized their visions for the show were very much in sync. The “heart” of the books had to remain intact. If the first episode is any indication, both women can pat themselves on the back. Stoneybrook is idealistic, but not fantasy land. None of the characters had perfect lives in the books, and it’s obvious their counterparts on television will experience similar challenges. But with friendship and love, the girls can work through the difficulties life throws at them.
There is also greater character diversity in the show than books. In the main cast one girl is Japanese American (originally in BSC), while two others are now biracial and Latinx. In an interview for the Los Angeles Times, Martin says the series has always been about inclusivity. She greatly applauds the updates, as do I. This show will be a special one to watch with my oldest.
The BABY-SITTERS CLUB starts streaming July 3 on Netflix.
Written by Erin Prather Stafford
Images provided by Scholastic and Netflix.