I’ll be upfront with you: I am not the target audience for Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club. Ann M. Martin’s book series of the same name was a little before my time (Netflix, this is my plea for a Magic Treehouse series). I’m also no longer a 12-year-old girl, which means I’m not the current demographic for this series. I usually like my preadolescent protagonists to be chased by supernatural beings, like in Super 8 or Stranger Things. But I’ll admit it—I was quite charmed by Season 2 of The Baby-Sitters Club, which dropped on Netflix on October 11.
This season opens on a new school year, as the club grapples with changes that happened over the summer. Club president Kristy (Sophie Thomas) adjusts to life in a blended family following her mother’s marriage (Alicia Silverstone) to her endearing boyfriend Watson (Marc Feuerstein), whom Kristy still hasn’t warmed up to. Stacey (Shay Rudolph) gets involved in local activism for diabetes research. Mary Anne (Malia Baker) and Dawn (Kyndra Sanchez, replacing Xochitl Gomez) are thrilled their single parents (Marc Evan Jackson and Jessica Elaina Eason, respectively) are going strong in their new relationship. It’s not so much about the baby-sitting so much as the club this season.
The members of the Baby-Sitters Club are effectively portrayed as well-rounded young women as opposed to sitcom stereotypes of middle schoolers: Claudia (Momona Tamada)’s love for the arts extends to learning about her Japanese heritage, Dawn is a budding activist, newcomer Jessi (Anais Lee) is an ambitious ballerina. Like the previous season, this one is a series of standalone stories, save for the loose thread of Kristy’s continued reluctance to embrace her new family dynamic.
Perhaps the only curious choice among an otherwise lovely season is the decision to dedicate two episodes each to Kristy and Claudia. Their episodes are wonderful, but with only eight in the season, assigning half the stories to two members of a seven-person club leaves the season uneven in attention to each girl. All remaining members of the club receive one episode each save for the Club’s other new member, Mallory (Vivian Watson), whose earnest but awkward attempts to fit in indicate a much richer, conflicted inner life than the season gives her.
Still, it’s sweet to see a series about kids that feels like a series about kids without becoming kitschy or stilted. Several of the main characters refer to themselves as “kids” (Jessi’s episode features a young TikTok star whose father treats him like a commodity rather than a literal child). The pressure of growing up too fast isn’t present here. The girls’ interests and situations are age-appropriate without being juvenile, from Dawn’s interest in sustainability and social justice to Mary Anne getting her first boyfriend.
Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books were originally published from 1986 to 1990 (ghostwriters later furthered the series). Updating the series was inevitable, but it’s not forced. The girls, of course, use modern technology (their use of a landline is an intentional “vintage” find) and reference contemporary pop culture (Timothée Chalamet gets a shoutout). But the heart of the series remains the same, centering on the lives of a group of friends who want to make their community a better place. In an era of gritty IP reboots, it’s nice to know that The Baby-Sitters Club can remain the same while still changing with the times.
The Baby-Sitters Club is streaming on Netflix.