Spoilers for The Baby-Sitters Club Season 2 Ahead
My only (and biggest complaint) about The Baby-Sitters Club season 2 is the fact that it was two episodes less than what we got in season one. But the wiser part of me understands that because the of the pandemic, this was necessary. Where a lot of shows, even ones typically structured around more light-hearted themes fall victim to the sophomore slump, The Baby-Sitters Club season 2 does the polar opposite and proves that we can still count on them.
This adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s novels continues to be astounding in its decision to tell inclusive stories that matter, and it continues to deal with character development diligently. There are ways to go and progress yet to be made, but what it has done during its second season is showcased the importance of friendships once more beautifully through the core five while adding in Jessi (Anais Lee) and Mallory (Vivian Watson) organically—the team is that much more lovely and complete with the little ladies who’re both given episodes to shine.
As a reminder that members of the Baby-Sitters Club are still kids themselves, we were given ample scenes to explore just how much is riding on them, and what they are willing to do to grow from their experiences. We saw more of Stacey managing to live with her Type I diabetes. We watched Mary Anne navigate through having a boyfriend and making time for her friends. We watched Dawn learn to share her space and even note that her future partner’s gender doesn’t concern her as long as they care about the causes she also values. We watched Claudia navigate through grief while simultaneously growing closer to her sister Janine. And we watched Kristy accept the fact that she has a father figure in her life who actually cares.
The Baby-Sitters Club season 2 and Strengthening Bonds
The friendship between members of the Baby-Sitters Club grew even stronger this season as they each grew a bit more as individuals, quite literally in episode 2, “Claudia and the New Girl,” as they went on a journey navigating through who they are. They proved that they’ll always show up for each other even when tough conversations need to happen, and situations can get awkward.
It isn’t easy being in Middle School. Period. It’s especially not easy to navigate through a lifelong disease, to lose the person you’re closest to, to accept the abandonment you’ve faced, or to learn who you are outside of your social circles, but through their friendships—the girls exhibited that whatever the scenario, there are no judgements in their club. As something that’s so often exclusive like clubs typically tend to be, the Baby-Sitters Club is an inclusive treasure.
While they’ve all got a lot to learn to find their place in the world, the steps they’re taking pave the TV road for a place where young girls can feel safe enough to be whoever it is they want to be. It’s a beautiful reminder of the fact that true friends will accept you as you are while rooting for you to be the very best version of yourself possible.
Claudia and the Shared Grief
I wept the moment I read the title for episode nine, “Claudia and the Sad Goodbye” because I knew it had something to do with Mimi, and as someone who lost her grandmother recently, I wasn’t ready for that. And frankly, I don’t think anything could have prepared any of us to see Mimi go, but keep painting, keep going. That’s a tragic part of life, and it’s a sad truth we all learn at some point. And then comes the moment where we realize that we carry our lost loved ones with us in the people we choose to be.
It was also lovely, despite the sadness, to get to know Janine a bit more. I was so frustrated with her at the start of the episode because sometimes, it’s not the time for facts, but by the end when she revealed that she’s been going through this alone and that she’s in love with Ashley, we got to see a side of her that up until that moment, only Mimi knew of. And it was a lovely scene to not only bring the sisters together in a moment of comfort, but a moment to remind us that love—whether romantic or platonic makes darkness easier to bear. Janine had Ashley through her grief and a piece of Mimi’s love lives within their relationship too.
Then later, the club got to share matcha tea, warmed perfectly with the whole family as a representation of who Mimi had been—the one uniting them all, the one accepting them all, and the one who’s loved them through everything. And that’s something we already know Claudia will carry with her through her choices, her art, and her loyalty—the kind Mimi had mastered beautifully.
Grief isn’t easy, but it’s something we all face and when it’s shared with those we love, it becomes that much more about the celebration of humanity—the person’s life. Mimi will be so sorely missed, but Claudia will only ever ensure that she is remembered, carried with her through everything she does and honored.
Dawn and the Coping Mechanisms
Dawn is an incredibly strong woman with a big personality, but anxiety doesn’t care about any of those things. It doesn’t care about revolutions or charities or any of the right causes. It doesn’t care that you get to live with your best friend and sister either. And anyone, no matter how strong they care can have anxiety.
While Dawn doesn’t overtly say any of this, we see it in her behavior throughout “Dawn and the Wicked Stepsister” where navigating through sharing her space proves to be difficult because she’s used to managing things one way, and disruption instead causes her to lash out.
And luckily, there are a lot of ways to manage anxiety, whether through incense or cleanliness or even adult coloring books given by her future stepfather—the man she’s actually a lot alike though the two don’t share blood. It was a beautiful, small moment in The Baby-Sitters Club Season 2 that wondrously showcased so much more of Dawn’s strengths as a human, her fears, and even to a degree, her flaws.
Jessi and Finding the Right Moves
Jessi is killing it in the grace game, but she’s also killing it in the fun game. When we got to know more about our newest member in The Baby-Sitters Club season 2, it was easy to appreciate the arc her story told because it’s a reminder we could all use, no matter how young or old. It’s more important to have fun than to overwork yourself. It’s important to love what you’re doing and to never lose sight of the fact that it doesn’t always have to be perfect.
Ballet is a tough sport. I for one, could never, and neither could any of the other girls—it takes great skill and while Jessi knows time management, she got to learn the importance of loving what she does while realizing that her new friends are going to show up for her no matter what. Seeing the entire team go to her recital with the kids they were baby-sitting and her parents was the sweetest thing. It doesn’t matter if they’re new or old, the girls will always show up for each other—that’s the deal, and it’s a beautiful one.
Kristy and the Overwhelming Love
Kristy Thomas continues to be such a complex little character, and it’ll never not be beautiful to see. Plus, her arc in The Baby-Sitters Club season 2 was pretty close to perfect. Kristy’s a special kid—it takes someone seriously bossy (and rightfully) controlling in a healthy way to take on the mantle that she has to look out for others, but this show does a great job of reminding its viewers that sometimes, the toughest tools in the shed need to be taken care of too.
And when her father disappoints her for the final time, Watson and her friends stand up to remind her (along with the rest of the Thomas kids) that this family is forever. If you had told me back in season one that I’d be sobbing because of something Watson said I wouldn’t have believed you, but here we are. When he’s had enough of the betrayal, he boldly vocalizes how much he adores these kids and that though they can’t have a baby of their own, he wants the Thomas kids to legally be his through adoption.
Thus, in spite of how she felt in the beginning, Kristy accepts because she understands that this is real love. (Putting on the adult/baby bonnet to symbolize that she’s with him had no business making me cry as hard it did, but here we are.)
Kristy had to find ways to make the new house a home, how to appreciate a new neighborhood, a sadness shared through her mother’s heartache, sadness shared with her brothers, and the acceptance of the kind of happiness they all deserved—a real, true family. She needed to once again see that she’s surrounded by friends who’ll fight for her when she can’t see clearly. Thereby, yet another brilliant reminder that she’s a strong woman with a big personality deserving of overwhelming love.
Mallory and the True Self-Acceptance
Mallory isn’t like the other girls and that’s perfectly okay—that’s what she needed to learn. She might not be an Individualist like Claudia, and she might ask a lot of questions or even mess up in her enthusiasm, but the truth is, she has years to go before she truly finds herself. Mallory is most of us. There’s a lot I knew about myself in Middle School, but there’s also a lot I didn’t. And to come from such a big family especially is interesting for viewers to realize that sometimes, kids get left behind.
But Mallory is also someone who cares a lot, and she wants to hold onto what she has. She wants to make sure she gets things right, and she wants to make sure that she’s part of something bigger than herself. It’s going to be so riveting to see how she grows (in the same way that it was interesting to see her stand her ground with the parade float). A little awkward, but ultimately, we all were and we know it. None of us were as cool as these kids were in Middle School. (And my acne-prone skin would hard agree.)
Mary Anne and the Hopeful Romance
She isn’t a hopeless romantic—she’s a hopeful one. Mary Anne’s growth in The Baby-Sitters Club season 2 has been my favorite thing because she once again proves that the step matters more than the finish line. And she continues to make the right steps even when she’s afraid. I couldn’t love this storyline more if I tried because Mary Anne choosing both her friends and her boyfriend was a lovely addition I wasn’t expected.
Typically, storylines such as these surrounding kids in Middle School with boyfriends involve some sort of a conversation with the friends where the person is told: “they’re spending way too much time with the boyfriend and they need to choose.” We watched it happen in countless shows, including one of my all-time favorites, Lizzie McGuire.
Instead, Mary Anne came to realize on her own that she wants to spend time with both, but also, she isn’t interested in labels right now. More than anything, she wants to spend time with the boy she likes who’s also her friend before anything else while spending the same amount of time with the club, and her family. For a Middle Schooler, that’s the healthiest route that can be taken.
Mary Anne also continued to stand up for what matters, and she took care of her friends when they needed her most. She realized that Claudia was denying her grief and chose to open up to her in order to create a safe space. She chose to confront Dawn when things got awkward while inadvertently confronting her own fears, then she chose to stand up for Kristy and remind her of the fact that she doesn’t want to see her get hurt by her father’s patterns again.
Mary Anne might have been quiet and shy, but The Baby-Sitters Club season 2 continued to take her on a journey to stand her ground. She continues to learn, and that’s the best thing we can ask for from a kid. A girl can have her family, a business, friends, and love as well—a hopefully romantic story, indeed.
Stacey and the Human Imperfections
Stacey’s arc in The Baby-Sitters Club season 2 was so fascinating because while we got to watch her accept that she isn’t ashamed of the disease, we also got to be reminded of the fact that she’s a kid, and sometimes it’s hard to manage. When her insulin levels drop during the JDRF charity gala, Stacey beats herself up for not managing properly, and instead, her doctor reminds her that it’s not her—it’s human.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we lose battles with our bodies. We forget to hydrate. We miscalculate. And also, bodies just don’t care how hard people try sometimes—diseases especially don’t care, but that’s so completely human. The show continuing to remind its viewers that this is a part of life, and it’s something that’ll be okay, no one’s perfect even someone who can ace math tests like Stacey is will have missteps. And to once again have her friends show up to remind her that they’re looking out for her even when she has too much on her plate was everything and more. Claudia didn’t overstep, she wasn’t babying Stacey—she was looking out. In the same way the club looked out for the Pike family when it came to throwing a party.
And when the ladies later showed up to say they’re here for Stacey in case her parents don’t stop fighting, we were shown once more just how closely they can be relied on.
The Baby-Sitters Club season 2 stood its ground exquisitely through the kind of growth that’s crucial to see on television—realistic storylines polished with plenty of heart. It was the type of season that served as a reminder of the fact that broken things could always be fixed when working together, and sometimes the things we believe are most annoying could be just what we need to complete the puzzle piece.
Bring on season 3, Netflix. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for each of these characters. What are your thoughts on The Baby-Sitters Club season 2?