Say Hello to Your Friends, Again: The Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix

I have, you might say, some attachment to Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books. Enough that when a friend suggested a group viewing party of the new Netflix series over Zoom, the answer was, of course. And enough that if the new series had messed up our beloved series, we would’ve had strong feelings about it.

Netflix got it right.

So much of what longtime fans remember is still there. Artistic Claudia’s quirky outfits that only she can pull off. Stacey’s sophistication and everyone else’s awe that she hails from New York. All the club members’ sincere passion for responsible baby-sitting, which seems even more noteworthy because the actresses are super-close to these middle-school characters’ actual ages. Even the book titles — eight of the early ones are reflected in the titles of the episodes. Are there a few corny or overwrought moments? Sure…but such moments are also part of the series we remember, and they’re kept to an impressive minimum.

Where there are updates, they make sense within the world of the series. Kristy’s tendency to take charge now has an explicitly feminist bent. Club secretary Mary Anne uses Google Docs instead of a notebook. The phone in Claudia’s room is a transparent plastic number, complete with cord — but she got the “iconic” nineties retro item on Etsy. The books had some diversity, but this version of Stoneybrook has a lot more. Most of it is completely casual; one story line focuses in part on a sitting charge’s gender identity.

Welcome to 2020, BSC. I can’t wait to watch the rest — and I hope that, in addition to all of us nostalgic nineties kids, 2020 kids are discovering this series. It’s not just fresh. It’s dibbly fresh.

Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. She has served on the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and Sydney Taylor Book Award committees.

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