Synopsis: In a bid to keep the TV version as timely as possible, episodes will broach topics including divorce, racism and belonging.
Format: 10 episodes, streaming on Netflix, from Friday, July 3rd.
Cast: Sophie Grace, Shay Rudolph, Malia Baker, Momona Tamada, Mark Feuerstein, Alicia Silverstone, Xochitl Gomez, Marc Evan Jackson, Sophia Reid-Gantzert, Benjamin Goas, Rian McCririck, Sebastian Billingsley-Rodriguez
Directors: Lucia Aniello
Writers: Lisha Brooks, Dan Robert, Rachel Shukert, Ann M. Martin (based on the novels by)
When I was a kid my Nan would often take myself and my brother to the library. I’m sure this is a crazy concept to kids now, but I was in awe of a magical place where you could just read – for free. So many books. Kids books. Adults books. Comic books and boring books on architecture and how to garden – my Nan’s books. I discovered in the back of the children’s section one day two series of books that grabbed my attention. The first was The Hardy Boys – kids detectives, I loved that. The second was The Babysitters Club by Anne M. Martin – a group of young girls dealing with their everyday lives, their parents and running a babysitters group – I loved that too. In fact, when I got older I always liked the idea of babysitting. I have no idea why, but maybe the books? Even when I was a teenager and a friend suggested we start doing it for money, I was super down. My parents wouldn’t allow it however and she ended up doing it with someone else. I digress. The Babysitters Club is a great series of books. They’ve been turned into several live-action adaptions and even comic books. Now Netflix has launched their own series and I’m once again drawn back to the young girl drama of The Babysitters Club.
If you’ve read or watched any of The Babysitters Club before you’ll feel at home with the modern adaption. The characters and their roles within the group and mostly the same.
Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace) has the idea to start a babysitters club when her mother (Alicia Silverstone) is struggling to find a babysitter for her younger brother. She first asks her best friend and next-door neighbour Mary-Anne (Malia Baker) to help out and quickly it grows to include her entire friend group, with Claudia (Momona Tamada) and Stacey (Shay Rudolph) joining as well.
Much like the book series, the focus of the show is less on the babysitting and more on the characters themselves. This isn’t a serial where each episode is focused on what happens during a new babysitting job, the focus of the show is on these young girls growing up in a modern world.
Kristy spends the majority of the first season dealing with her mother’s new fiancée and the looming move that will have her family transfer into his home. Her relationship with her mother is put on the rocks as she has to learn to accept her mother’s decisions and who she wants to spend her life with.
Sophie Grace does a great job at playing the tough exterior of Kirsty and one special scene between her and Alice Silverstone was entirely too heartwarming. Silverstone herself is great here in the warm motherly role.
Mary-Anne’s father is very protective, to the point of overbearing and as a single dad, he struggles to loosen his grip on her. Mary-Anne’s father is portrayed by Marc Evan Jackson with a dry but heartwarming tone that leads to some emotional and comedic scenes.
Claudia is an artist through-and-through in a family that expects A+ grades in all the wrong classes. Her older sister is the more ‘successful’ at school and she struggles to fit in with her family aside from her Grandma who she loves spending time with.
Stacey comes from New York and only recently moved to Stoneybrook. She’s hiding the reason why though and it’s a big part in moving her character’s confidence forward as her new group steps-up to help her overcome the problem.
About halfway into the series the fifth member of the group is introduced as well. Dawn (Xochitl Gomez) has a passion for social justice and will strive to make the world a better place. She seems the oldest of the group in a lot of ways given her views on life and social issues she’s interested in.
Each character is very much like their book counterparts where it matters but changes have been made to add diversity and help modernise them. Everyone gets their chance to shine as every episode — apart from the premiere and two-part finale — primarily focuses on a singular character. This is reminiscent of the books which were told from the perspective of one character as well.