I've got a bit of a confession to make: I know absolutely nothing about The Baby-Sitters Club.
Or at least I didn't until today. I was a little girl in the 90s and early 2000s and I read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies, but somehow this club passed me by completely. I could vaguely tell you the names of the members of the club (though I would have spelled them all wrong), but it didn't even really register with me that it was an actual club of baby-sitters. So when a new series was announced for Netflix, starring Alicia Silverstone and a group of unknown preteens, I paid very little attention. This is not going to be nostalgia for me, I thought.
Then I started hearing nothing but excitement from critic friends and colleagues who had watched it, and I was suddenly intrigued. Incredible reviews started appearing. "The Baby-Sitters Club defies and exceeds expectations," said The New York Times. The Hollywood Reporter said it was " downright among the best shows the streaming platform has produced to date." Everything I had heard was that it was absolutely worth a watch even if the name means nothing to me, nostalgia-wise, and so I watched it.
I ended up watching the entire 10 episode first season in one day, eagerly hitting play over and over again as episodes ended, feeling like I was reliving a part of my childhood I never even had. I wasn't a part of this club as a kid, but I sure am now.
In case you're as out of the loop as I was, The Baby-Sitters Club is about a group of middle school friends who start a literal club called the Baby-Sitters Club. Parents call a single number and are connected with one of the baby-sitters in the club for whatever their needs are, leading to a lot of entertaining scenes of preteens wrangling little kids. But of course, this is a show about more than just baby-sitting.
Kristy's mom (Silverstone) is getting remarried to a really nice and really wealthy man (Marc Feuerstein), and Kristy (Sophie Grace) is struggling with changing her entire lifestyle and possibly losing the close relationship she has with her mom. Mary Anne (Malia Baker), who lost her mom when she was young, is trying to grow up a little bit while her extremely overprotective father (Marc Evan Jackson) is having trouble letting go. Claudia (Momona Tamada) excels at art but struggles with everything else in school. Stacey (Shay Rudolph) is totally boy-crazy and is also trying to manage her diabetes, while Dawn (Xochitl Gomez) is the new girl in school, and is just trying to fit into the club.
The show appears to be set in present day, with Instagram, iPhones, Queer Eye, Lizzo, and even jokes about data being stolen by Russia, but somehow, it also feels like it could have been set 10, 20, 30 years ago. Sometimes it looks like a memory, with muted colors and fashion that's both bold and strangely unspecific, like an idealized idea of what life used to look like and also does still look like. It's the childhood many of us might long to go back to right about now, even if it doesn't actually resemble the one we lived. I didn't grow up in a sleepy Connecticut town (or any town at all, but that's beside the point), but this still feels oddly familiar.
It also helps that there's some really superb acting from children here, which is often hard to accomplish. The kids carry the show, and they're part of what makes it so damn good.
Sure, more often than not I found myself supporting the parents over the kids, but that's an alarming aspect of adulthood I just have to keep getting used to, and did not take away from my enjoyment of the series because these parents are actually great. Even the stern Richard (Jackson) is sympathetic despite the sometimes extreme measures he goes to to protect his daughter, and Silverstone is a wonderful, lovable mom just trying to get her daughter on board with the changes in her life.
There's just a lot to really enjoy here, and it's a very easy binge that will end before you're ready. Treat yourself this holiday weekend!
The Baby-Sitters Club is now streaming on Netflix.