Netflix’s track record with renewals isn’t the most reliable these days, but such decisions always hurt most when they impact the shows that pave the road for more inclusive narratives. And amongst remarkably inspiring series like Julie and The Phantoms, Netflix’s reboot of The Baby-Sitters Club did a fantastic job of telling poignant stories that could’ve helped younger generations find their voice. (Or, you know, those of us in our 30s could also learn a thing or two from these incredible women.)
While characters inspired by Ann M. Martin’s books are similar to their written counterparts, showrunner Rachel Shukert brought a gratifying twist to the series by allowing the women to mirror the time we are in with storylines that could showcase a brighter, better world.
In our review for Season 2, we had said, “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.”
In a series that never once forgets how to ground its characters, The Baby-Sitters Club understood the importance of being a kid and diligently treading through life’s difficulties. The show would never gloss over critical storylines; instead, it often tried to spend as much of the stretch as possible in the short run-time, bringing to the surface narratives that would ensure viewers felt a little less alone. And it did all this effortlessly, which ultimately made the series the tragically short-lived success it was.
The show never tried to be inclusive solely to check boxes, but through carefully crafted storylines we don’t often see in young adult fiction on our screens, it tried to emphasize the importance of seeing people as they are while welcoming the changes that are bound to happen. Through the eyes of Kristy, the series often made it clear that friendship is about listening to one another and uplifting each other, all while staying true to one’s beliefs if they’re worth fighting for.
In a time where it’s essential to tell stories orbiting around kindness and inclusivity, it’s also critical to ensure that we’re telling stories that center around young women who are finding their voices in a society that’s still very dismissive of them. Where more often than not, young adult fiction would veer towards mean girls spotlighting storylines, The Baby-Sitters Club chose to celebrate friendships by honoring the books that stood as a beacon of hope for many of us in the 90s.
The series was (and will always be) a reminder that there’s light in persistence and where friendships are steadfast, there’s growth for everyone. The series deserved a renewal for the chance to continue telling stories that were centered around the idea of belonging. The series’s heart has always focused on what it means to be a kid during some of the most challenging years of our lives while acting as a light to showcase that where there are strong friendships, there’s unimaginable heart too. Whether it was navigating through grief, fighting to be taken seriously, feelings of abandonment, the day in the life of being a strong woman, chronic illnesses, or any sort of adolescent changes, the series brought these experiences to life authentically. And if nothing else, the younger generation deserved more chances to see that they’re not alone.
The Baby-Sitters Club Season 1 and 2 are now streaming on Netflix.