Cover image by @kk.atelyns on Instagram.
By Alena Nguyen
When I was younger, I had never read the iconic series by Ann M. Martin about young girls starting a babysitting business, so when I heard about this series, I thought this was going to be another fun loving series for little children.
I wasn’t completely wrong. “The Babysitters Club” is a book-to-series adaptation revolving around 4 middle school girls who start a babysitting business in their town. While the books were written during the 1980s, the Netflix series highlights the diversity and uniqueness in every characters’ stories. There’s Kristy (played by Sophie Grace), the fearless founder and leader of the squad. Her father left when she was a young child, and she’s not very used to the fact this new guy is trying to “steal her dad’s spot” in her life. Claudia (Momona Tamada) is an artsy Japanese American fashionista with a love for all things that have to deal with color (her room and clothes look straight out of Target). While her sister fits the mold of what an Asian child should be, Claudia struggles to find herself while trying to please her parents. Mary Anne (Malia Baker) is a shy, sweet girl with an overprotective widowed father who has to learn how to let Mary Anne be independent and stand up for herself. Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph) is a younger version of Serena van der Woodsen from “Gossip Girl” who had to move from the Upper West Side because of the incessant bullying surrounding Stacey’s diabetes. Dawn (Xochitl Gomez) is a free spirit who encourages Mary Anne to live as freely as Dawn is (and Dawn’s mom dated Mary Anne’s dad in high school). The show features “Clueless” star Alicia Silverstone as Kristy’s mom.
The show takes many steps forward in normalizing seeing LGBTQ+ members on screen, increased representation of various minority races as well as highlighting the power of female leaders. The times are changing and the crew of “The Babysitters Club” took that into account. All of this and more is addressed in a kids show about babysitting. Seeing such a childish show address topics from the Japanese internment camps during World War II to trying to fit in was empowering, as I as an Asian American felt represented in Claudia and saw myself in all aspects of the girls.
While I loved all the characters, Claudia Kishi struck a strong chord with me. After viewing the series and realizing how much I saw myself in little Claudia, I found that Netflix released a documentary highlighting Claudia called “The Claudia Kishi Club”. In the documentary, various Asian American artists address how Claudia was a face of representation for them as Asian American children and artists in the 80s and 90s and I could not agree more with them. I love how not only is Claudia creative, she is unafraid to be “bold bold” and put herself and her art out there. Claudia is adorable and sees the best and brightest in the world around her. As a fellow Asian American artist who also isn’t that good at math either, Claudia makes me wish I read the series when I was younger so I didn’t have to relate to a 13 year old. The struggle of being a creative person and being overshadowed by your relatives is so relatable and Claudia shows everyone who feels overshadowed how to bask in your own light.
“The Babysitters Club” is definitely a show I’d let my children watch in the future. While it’s mainly aimed at young children, teenagers and adults alike can learn from the strong, independent women that make up the babysitters club.