Based on the best-selling book series that was highly popular in the 1980s and 1990s, Netflix’s new series ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’, follows the friendship and adventures of Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace), the genius but shy Mary-Anne Spier (Malia Baker), the artsy Claudia Kishi (Momona Tamada – ‘To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You‘), the fashion-queen-with-a-secret Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph – ‘Lethal Weapon‘), and free-spirited Dawn Schafer (Xochitl Gomez – ‘Gentefied‘) as the middle-schoolers start their babysitting business in the town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut. Each episode in this first season is based on one of the books in the BSC-series, which was originally written by Ann M. Martin, who also produces the series.
The Netflix Original Series revolves around this group of inspiring girls with different backgrounds, personalities and opinions who become best friends by working and growing up together. Combining drama and comedy, this adaptation for the small screen might look childish, but in fact tackles some mature subjects such as divorce, online bullying, the importance of using right pronouns, and even explores a dark part of American history (in this case the World War II internment camp, Manzanar).
Alicia Silverstone (The Lodge) plays Elizabeth Thomas-Brewer, the selfless single-mother of Kristy and love interest of all around good guy Watson Brewer, played by Mark Feuerstein (‘Prison Break‘). As part of the adult cast, they never steal the spotlight and are mostly here to support this young group of actors. All members of The Baby-Sitters Club do a fine job at playing their own specific character, but some of these actors are clearly still getting used to being in front of the camera. Baker’s Mary Anne grows a lot into a well rounded personality, after being a shy wallflower in the first half of the season, but you can tell the young actress struggles a bit with keeping a straight face during the more dramatic scenes. Without her the BSC wouldn’t be complete – everyone gets a bit of stage fright in life. Tamada, and especially Gomez, are stars in the making, both exuding a natural energy that breezes through every episode.
The fun part about this series, is that we get to explore a different character’s personal life and struggles in a stand alone episode which they narrate themselves, with the other members of the club basically playing the supporting cast. This not only gives the viewer the time to explore their favourites a bit more, but also gives those you might not like as much at first, grow on you. Showrunner Rachel Shukert (Glow) and executive producer and director Lucia Aniello (Broad City) take a simple yet effective approach at educating viewers of all ages in a wholesome, balanced and innocent way.
The series explores female empowerment, entrepreneurship and discusses some more intricate but important topics, which could open up the conversation between parents and their children, or those who aren’t familiar with certain topical subjects. Knowing just how successful the book-series was, Netflix would make the right decision by greenlighting the second season of the potential hit-series ‘The Baby-Sitters Club‘ to make sure they can keep the same cast to play this group of best friends, before they outgrow their on screen characters.
Netflix Review – ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Season 1
Reviewed on Netflix, July 5, 2020. Rating: ALL. Running time: 10×30 min. episodes.
PRODUCTION: A Netflix release of a Walden Media production. Producer: Ashley Glazier. Executive producers: Lucia Aniello, Naia Cucukov, Michael De Luca, Lucy Winn Kitada, Rachel Shukert.
CREW: Directors: Lucia Aniello, Kimmy Gatewood, Luke Matheny. Screenplay: Lisha Brooks, Rheeqrheeq Chainey, Jade Chang, Ann M. Martin, Dan Robert, Rachel Shukert, Lucia Aniello, Joanna Calo, Lyle Friedman, Ariel Karlin. Camera: Adam Silver. Editors: Joseph Ettinger, Janet Weinberg, Jamie Gross. Music: Jesse Novak.
WITH: Sophie Grace, Momona Tamada, Shay Rudolph, Malia Baker, Xochitl Gomez, Alicia Silverstone, Marc Evan Jackson, Sophia Reid-Gantzert, Takayo Fischer, Benjamin Goas, Mark Feuerstein.