Netflix’s benevolent adaptation of the classic YA books deepens the ever-complex relationships between its teenage characters.
In its first season, Netflix The babysitters club had to strike a very difficult balance: satisfying adults who might watch the series based on the nostalgia for Ann M. Martin’s classic YA series, and attracting new, younger fans with relevant stories at the same time. Fortunately, he stuck the landing, with remarkable humor and warmth. Season 2 picks up where babysitters left off and thoughtfully deepens their relationships with each other and with their families, bringing even more dimension and depth to an already exemplary family program.
Creator of the Rachel Shukert series (GLOW) and his team get the audience straight into the matter with the first episode (“Kristy and the Snobs”), making it clear that they respect their young viewers enough not to tiptoe into real life issues. that affect children. The season premiere finds Baby-Sitters Club President Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace) and baby brother David Michael (Benjamin Goas) struggling to adjust to the life of their new blended family and the death of their dog.
Kristy is also not the only member of the club with a lot to do. Claudia Kishi’s (Momona Tamada) beloved grandmother Mimi (Takayo Fischer) has never fully recovered from her stroke and speaks in hesitant sentence fragments. Dawn Schaefer (Kyndra Sanchez, a perfect replacement for Xochitl Gomez) still plays the role of the reluctant therapist for the adults in her life. Even the group’s perfectionist, Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph) struggles, in secret, to manage her diabetes. Many shows aimed at pre-teens would flounder in exploring these topics without becoming scholarly or didactic, but The babysitters club feels unique in his ability to totally avoid these pitfalls.
The show treats each story with refreshing honesty and a deeply welcome lack of condescension. Since the pace of dialogue is noticeably slower than your average fare between Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, the show lets the characters breathe. (It’s also, thankfully, chuckle without a trail.) Kristy’s complex dynamic with her kind stepfather, Watson Brewer (Mark Feuerstein), unfolds in a way that feels totally natural, going from awkward conversations to awkwardness. meal time to a link on the absence of his biological father.
Carried by strong and realistic writing, young actors rarely make mistakes. Tamada in particular brings an observant and crisp quality to iconic Claudia Kishi, and her scenes with her tech-obsessed sister Janine (Aya Furukawa) are a total joy. (Netflix short documentary The Claudia Kishi Club is a great companion for either season.) New club member Mallory Pike (Vivian Watson) is slyly funny in her role as the group’s nervous Horse Girl and stage thief Karen Brewer (Sophia Reid- Gantzert), the phantasmagoric of Kristy half-sister, returns with a lot of good material that doesn’t rely too much on the scary clichés of children.
Adult actors are also in their prime; Alicia Silverstone is at her best as a movie star as the mother of Kristy, Elizabeth Thomas, and Feuerstein is almost incredibly charming as a silly husband.
Even though our prospects can handle mature issues, the show makes it very clear that they are children and deserve to be treated as such. It might sound obvious, but anyone who has spent time watching college TV could tell you that unfortunately it is not. The babysitters club is one of the few pieces of YA fiction that actually includes storylines about co-dependent parents unwittingly overloading their children with too much information. They are capable young women who deserve the respect but also the help and support of the adults in their lives.
Better yet, this season explores the romance between Mary Anne Spier (Malia Baker) and Logan Bruno (Rian McCririck) in a surprisingly nuanced and age-appropriate way. Baker and McCririck share a charming, albeit painfully awkward dynamic, and it was nice to see the storyline unfold without it ever becoming a sultry teen soap opera.
Carried by strong and realistic writing, young actors rarely make mistakes.
The authors make sure to honor the unique personality of each babysitter and, more importantly, the unique relationships that unite the Club. Instead of turning the girls’ friendships into a generic group, we can see how each of the girls has their own connections and sticking points with each other. For example, Claudia can be tender and attentive with her best friend Stacey even when Stacey harasses her, but bristles at Mallory’s naturally enthusiastic nature, as Mallory’s newcomer Jessi Ramsey (Anais Lee) thinks that the enthusiasm is one of the best things about it. friend.
Too many works of fiction for tween girls act as if the only points of conflict or solidarity between them are boys or clothes, and Babysitters is far from falling into this trap. Girls at the club are allowed to take care of the Walk for Our Lives and be in their own fashion show.
There is no shortage of silly hijinks – several episodes involve the possible presence of ghosts. But more conceptual episodes like “Dawn and the Wicked Stepsister,” in which Dawn and Mary Anne discover a secret tunnel within the walls of Dawn’s house, are truly heartfelt explorations of friendships and families. Mary Anne’s dad, Richard Spier (Marc Evan Jackson), and Dawn’s mom, Sharon Porter (Jessica Elaina Eason) embody that dynamic perfectly. Still as a couple in season 2, they deliver some of the show’s most touching emotional moments and best jokes. Richard type A packs various pewter chess sets for a week’s stay at Sharon’s; Sharon’s only easy response to a waiter pouring a thirteen-year-old a glass of wine is, “I’ll take it.” They could have their own show.
There’s not much to complain about in this tight eight-episode season. Jessi’s episode involves a weirdly dark and heartbreaking story of children’s influencers that doesn’t match the show’s parsimonious use of social media. It would be exciting to see the racial aspects of girls’ lives explored in a future season, as the show is so good at weaving in their different cultures and included a significant LGBTQ character in Season 2. And
Like many shows produced last year, you certainly feel the COVID restrictions on set from time to time. Stoneybrook seems oddly empty, and they seemingly only babysit children now. Sadly, the big Pike family, who were used to a big comedic effect last season, are staying almost entirely offscreen this time around, despite Mallory being promoted to series regular. But it looks like the writers mostly focused on the restrictions and focused on what makes these characters so compelling, so ultimately it’s small sacrifices to be made.
When The babysitters club first created, it was almost too good to be true. The shows that adults and their children can enjoy together are rare. Thankfully, this new season more than meets the high standards that Season 1 sets in complementing its characters and staying true to itself. Who knows? It might even spark a few family conversations in real life.
The babysitters club returns for Season 2 on Netflix on October 11.