Kristy’s Great Idea -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls -| Review Score – 3/5
The Truth About Stacey -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Mary Anne Saves The Day -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Dawn and the Impossible Three -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Claudia and Mean Janine -| Review Score – 4/5
Boy-Crazy Stacey -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Kristy’s Big Day -| Review Score – 4/5
Hello, Camp Moosehead! Part 1 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Hello, Camp Moosehead! Part 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
The Baby-Sitters Club books have sold over 176 million copies and in this age of reboots, sequels and spin-offs, the only thing surprising here is perhaps how long it’s taken for someone to get their hands on this IP and revamp it for modern audiences. Step forward streaming giants Netflix.
With a quirky and charming tone, The Baby-Sitters Club revamps the series for a whole new generation while channeling some excellent feel-good 90’s vibes.
The story itself revolves around the inception and growth of a Baby-Sitters club to help the parents around town with their little ones. Founded by the brainchild of the team Kristy, she combines her efforts with new girl Stacey, best friend Mary Anne and cool kid Claudia to bring this vision to life.
Along the way, the girls tackle both familial issues and narrative-driven problems ranging from a rival babysitting group on their turf to young love and runaway kids. There’s a great balance of plot and character-driven issues that crop up here but its the second half of the series that really comes into its own and showcases this one at its best.
While the first half tackles a lot of simple problems resolved within the same episode, the second half dives a lot deeper into the personal problems and fears for our different babysitters. Kristy has some serious Father issues that she needs to work through, Claudia struggles to live up to her parents’ expectations next to her genius sister Janine while Stacey hides a secret from the other girls.
If there’s one blemish here though it comes from the fact the show never quite follows through with some of its initial ensuing drama. Kristy fails to have a heart to heart with her Mother’s step-dad Watson (something that’s teased time and again through the show) while the ongoing will they/won’t they romance between Trevor and Sharon is never quite given enough closure to hit those heart-warming peaks.
Despite that though, the show does give some great character arcs and rounds things out nicely with a lot of the other players. Kristy in particular comes full circle by the end of the series with her Mother while Karen (Watson’s daughter), has a few touching scenes in the final episode after being used for weird-kid-comedy for long stretches of the series.
Stylistically, The Baby-Sitters Club uses a nice tactic of switching protagonist voices between episodes to keep things feeling fresh and allowing each of the individual segments to give something new to the series. The bright, vibrant colours and book turning visuals at the start of each episode only reinforces those earlier ideas of the show embracing its book format.
Having not read the books I can’t comment on how close to the source material this falls but the show does do a really great job modernizing certain aspects of its production while keeping the show feeling very 90’s-esque.
There are a couple of throwbacks to old-school technology though (a TV on wheels anyone?) at the same time as including mobile phones and modern technology. The balance between the two actually works surprisingly well to not only give a nod toward the original readers, but also making things relatable to a brand new audience.
It’s not perfect, and at times The Baby-Sitters Club doesn’t quite follow through and resolve all of its subplots across the first season which is a bit disappointing. Given how many books have been produced though, the series actually leaves the door wide open for future seasons.
Based on what we’ve seen here, a second season definitely wouldn’t be amiss and there’s enough here to make for a quirky and enjoyable drama well worth watching.
The Baby-Sitters Club releases this Friday (03/07/2020) on Netflix worldwide!