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So, Netflix Changed a Few Details for ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Show

When I was a kid in the ‘90s, I read The Baby-Sitters Club nonstop. I lived for the gossip, the boy drama, and the babysitting adventures of Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, Stacey McGill, and Dawn Schafer. It was like they were my friends, too. And I’m relieved to say the reboot is just as delightful as the books.

The moment I started watching the show, allllll of the details came rushing back. I was remembering things I hadn’t thought about in over two decades: Kristy’s visor. Grandma Mimi affectionally calling Claudia “my Claudia.” Nobody wanting to sit for the Barrett kids, aka the Impossible Three. But it’s been nearly 35 years since the first Baby-Sitters Club book was published, so it’s only natural that some things would change. Don’t worry: The series still tells the stories you know and love, and there are still plenty of things that didn’t change, like Claudia stashing candy all over her room. But here are the biggest differences between the books and the show.

[FYI, there are some spoilers ahead for this season of The Baby-Sitters Club. If you want to watch spoiler-free, maybe come back to this post later!]

The story takes place in the present day.

The first Baby-Sitter’s Club book, Kristy’s Great Idea, was published in 1986. But the Netflix series takes place today, almost 35 years later. In the show, the girls frequently communicate over text and email, and use Google to schedule babysitting jobs like the entrepreneurial young women they are. There are also jokes about selling personal information to the Russians, references to The Handmaid’s Tale, and a new moon in Scorpio ritual. Peak 2020, if you ask me.

a still from 'the baby sitters club'


The world of Stoneybrook, Connecticut is more diverse.

The original series was pretty lacking in diversity. Aside from Claudia being Japanese American and Jessi being Black, there wasn’t much representation. That changes in the Netflix series. Mary Anne is biracial, Dawn is Latinx, and Dawn’s dad is gay. There are other gay characters mentioned throughout, too. Progress!

Some of their regular babysitting clients are more diverse, too.

The kids the babysitters watched in the books were pretty much all white. But that changes in the series. Charlotte Johanssen, one of the club’s regular charges, is now Asian, and her mom, Dr. Johanssen, is Black. There’s also a new character: Bailey, a transgender girl, who helps Mary Anne understand why it’s important for someone’s outside to match their inside.

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The girls are Feminists with a capital ‘F.’

Don’t get me wrong, the books celebrated female friendship and championed female empowerment, but the show takes it to another level. The babysitters quote Michelle Obama, engage in witchy rituals, preach the importance of women supporting women, and constantly check each other’s language. At one point, they refer to one of Claudia’s outfits as “Ruth Bader Ginsburg-chic.”

And they all care about social issues.

In 2020, the babysitters are smart, informed, and sensitive to cultural and political issues. At Camp Moosehead, Dawn campaigns for climate change and leads the campers in a protest about income inequality. The babysitters also know what they don’t know and are always eager to learn. For example, Claudia learns about Manzanar, the concentration camp where her Japanese American grandmother Mimi lived for three years as a young girl, and it’s really powerful.

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Kristy is a liiittle bit meaner in the show.

Not a lot! But she is noticeably more angsty. She isn’t a full-on mean girl, but she tends to take her bossiness further in the show than she did in the books. Not that we blame her: She’s confused about why her dad left, she has mixed feelings about her mom marrying Watson, and she’s jealous that everyone else’s dad can show up for them no problem.

Stacey’s diabetes story plays out a little differently.

In both the books and the show, Stacey moved to Stoneybrook from New York City because people judged her for having diabetes; she keeps her illness a secret from the Baby-Sitters Club so they won’t think less of her. But the details play out a bit differently in the show: The BSC’s short-lived rival The Baby-Sitting Agency resurfaces an old video of Stacey having a seizure in an attempt to make her seem like an unreliable sitter. (It doesn’t work, and it’s also very mean.)

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