Geek It! Review: Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters’ Club (2020)

As a ’90s girl, we were obsessed with THE BABY-SITTERS’ CLUB. Besides reading hundreds of Baby-Sitters Club books, we were also obsessed with the original BSC television series and the full-length movie. So when we heard Netflix was making its own adaptation, our inner fangirl cheered out loud. Would an outdated series work out well in today’s context? Will it meet our expectations? Let’s find out!

Based on Ann M Martin’s good-hearted stories, Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club series revolve around our favourite BSC girls (Kristy Thomas, Claudia Kishi, Mary Anne Spier, Dawn Schafer and Stacey McGill) and their baby-sitting adventures.

The Netflix series is exactly the way we remembered the books — but with a twist. Every school kid appears to have a smartphone now. The landline phone is now hailed as a vintage ’90s item. Mary Anne uses Google Docs to schedule appointments and Stacey goes all out with social media advertising for the club. And there are plenty of pop-culture references to Clueless, Parent Trap, and Hunger Games. But despite the story being adapted for the modern audience, the story surprisingly hasn’t lost any of its old-school charm.

When it comes to live-action adaptations, we have extremely high expectations in the hopes of fulfilling our nostalgia. And boy, we were impressed with Netflix’s production. 

From the set designs to the prop details; and from the characters’ wardrobe to the casting of the actresses; the overall production team has done an incredible job in making sure that everything stays true to the original content that fans know and love.

Just like the books, the Netflix adaptation feature the trials and tribulations of friendships and relationships; and also common topics such as divorce, diabetes, and mixed families. However, there are new additions to the story that are more relatable with young girls than ever. For instance, the Netflix series surprisingly explores social issues such as menstruation and feminism. To be able to normalise such issues and intertwine them flawlessly into these girls’ lives, it has made us fall in love with the series even more.

Surprisingly yet not-so-surprisingly of a modern adaptation, the show has spiced up the diversity by changing some of the characters’ nationalities. Although this may upset OG fans, it honestly does not hurt the heart and soul of Ann M Martin’s characters. In the original, Claudia was Japanese-American and everyone was American. Now, meet Mary Anne and Dawn who are played by young women of colour. However, it’s not just the main characters — we also see other characters such as the Johanssens being played by people of colour. 

Due to time restraints, the Netflix series was not given the opportunity to fully adapt the books. Unlike the books which heavily featured sub-plots and baby-sitting dramas, Netflix’s version was more about the girls and their social lives. Not that we’re complaining but we feel that the core of the books sometimes got lost in the middle of Netflix’s storytelling. Like, whatever happened to the mysterious Phantom Caller and the red ribbon code?

Despite being young actresses, the main cast has skilfully captured the spirit of the characters and brought them to life. We must especially give major credit to Sophie Grace who plays straight-shooter Kristy with perfect bossy attitude and conviction; Momona Tamada who nails Claudia’s quirkiness and sensitivity; and Xochitl Gomez who captures Dawn’s activism and nonchalance with enthusiasm.

With their tight-knit chemistry and girl-power spirit, the girls form the ultimate baby-sitting club. Despite the ups and downs of their personal lives and baby-sitting lives, we love watching these girls support each other and sharing the same tenacity and positive vibes.

RATING: 8/10

Overall: Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters’ Club is a fantastic homage to our favourite ’90s book series. Not only was it a nice nostalgic trip for the original fans, but we’re sure tweens of today would enjoy the Netflix series just as much.

Rather than going off course and changing the series into something edgy and trendy, we like how Netflix’s version has stayed true to the original material whilst being modern and sophisticated at the same time. What a great time to be alive!

— ENDS —

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