The BSC: The Baby-Sitters Remember

This post was originally posted in September of 2014.
Once upon a time in the ‘90’s, there was this little gem of a show based on Ann M. Martin’s classic book series about a group of middle school girls who spend their free time in a club devoted to babysitting. This show must have been filmed at Astoria Studios because even Dawn, who is supposed to be from California, sounds like she’s from the tri-state region. If you were a girl child of the ’90’s you could not escape this book series. There was bossy Kristy, artsy Claudia, fashionista Stacey, California Casual Dawn, good-girl Mary Anne, ballerina Jesse, and Mallory who had red hair, wore glasses, and other than that had no defining features. I hated this episode as a kid because I thought it was a flashback episode full of clips from episodes I had never seen. As it turns out, it’s a clip show full of new material. I guess these were ideas Ann M. Martin had but never felt like turning into a full length book, and the TV show decided that these random clips would make the best series finale, which just goes to show you that not all very special episodes are about terrible topics. It’s the last day of school and the BSC is having a slumber party. Jessie is nervous about going to dance camp, Kristy is excited about going to softball camp, and Mary-Anne is totally bummed that she see won’t see her friends every day for two months. All of these thoughts about their impending separation lead the girls to reminisce about how they first began the club.

Is this jersey from a 1970's athletics store?
Is this jersey from a 1970’s athletics store?

Cue Memory #1 in which Kristy is wearing this bizarre jersey that says Sport Shack in some seriously old school lettering. She gets in trouble for cheering when the last bell rings, and some hard-ass teacher makes her write one hundred words about the importance of decorum. Meanwhile, Kristy’s mom is stressing because she can never find a sitter. Most thirteen year-olds would totally ignore this because it’s not really their problem, but like two and a half seconds after talking to her mom, Kristy’s eyes get wild and she casts aside her homework to plot out her magnum opus: The Baby-Stitters Club. She tells everyone how she didn’t think she would survive her first job, in which the mom meets here at the front door and describes how she must keep her rambunctious three year-old twins locked in the laundry room until it’s time to “go out.” Kristy can’t resist the promise of some cold hard cash, so she doesn’t run screaming from this house of apparent child abuse. Luckily, the twins turn out to be two dogs instead of toddlers.

Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.
Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.

Memory#2: The girls head downstairs for snacks and Claudia finds her dead grandmother’s teacup, so the girls reminisce about that relationship for while. Kristy does a really offensive fake Japanese accent which all of the girls find funny except for Claudia who is too lost in her thoughts to call Kristy out for being such an insensitive loser. Truly, the best part of all of this is that the very next scene is a flashback with Mimi (Claudia’s grandmother) and she has no accent whatsoever. This is a truly rare very special episode because it doesn’t involve any drugs or pregnancy and includes a racist joke. Also, in this scene Mallory ends up being the only baby-sitter with lucky steam rising from her tea. They had to throw her a bone because Mallory never has anything else going for her. Memory #3: The baby-sitters share a creepy memory about “staging a ceremony” before Kristy’s mom’s wedding. This ceremony turns out to be a full on mock wedding between two of Kristy’s younger siblings, which has clearly been orchestrated by the baby-sitters club. They make everyone attend and the they make the two young siblings exchange wedding vows. Luckily, the little boy runs away when they tell him to kiss the bride,so no almost-incest was committed.

Creepy Fake Wedding
Creepy Fake Wedding

Finally, all of the baby-sitters get sleepy after a night of reminiscing and fall asleep at midnight in what must be the tamest slumber party ever imagined. Note: I didn’t include all of them memories. Some of them were really boring.

Very Special Lesson: You don’t always have to have a very special lesson to have a very special episode. Or maybe friendship…friendship was the lesson.

P.S. This set came from Ikea before everyone shopped there:

claudia ikea

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The Baby-Sitters Club: Stacey Takes a Stand

Words cannot describe how much I hate the saccharine theme song at this point in the review process. Thank GOD for 10 second advance!!

hqdefaultFirst of all, everyone on the internet will tell you that this show had its full run in 1990. But I’ve noticed the recurring kids (mostly Danny Tamberelli) having major growth spurts that would be a real-life version of television-kid rapid aging syndrome. But that is simply not true because here we are in the penultimate episode of the series and the girls are talking about the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls on Broadway.

Anyway, the sitters are jealous that Stacey gets to hang out in NYC with her dad, but Stacey is like guys it is actually kind of hard to have two parents in different cities and have to split time with them. It gets even harder when her dad asks her to move back to New York for high school.

snapshot151Stacey tries to reason through this very difficult decision with the shortest pros and cons list of all time. It’s NYC: 1. Dad 2. Museums; StoneyBrook: 1. Mom 2. The Baby-Sitters Club! She calls the club from her Dad’s, so they all head to NYC for the day to cheer her up. They rent boats in central park (this is legit filmed on location btw). I love this episode. It is so sweet and they’re such a nice group of friends.

mv5bmtg3otiynzqzov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjuwmjezmje-_v1_uy268_cr870182268_al_Stacey decides to talk to both of her parents. She explains how she’s constantly keeping things from one parent or another because she’s afraid of hurting one of them. She also asks them to stop shit-talking each other in front of her. She hasn’t even invited her dad to attend a special Father’s Day event that the BSC is putting together in Stoneybrook. But luckily, her mom comes through and invites him at the last-minute. He agrees to back off on the moving to New York thing and also to make a better effort to get over to Stoneybrook more often. I mean people literally commute from CT to NYC daily, so yeah he needs to get his shit together.

Okay, that was kind of a bummer, so let’s round things out with the most 90’s dance ever.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t try to violate your custody agreement by asking your kid to move across state lines.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Dawn Saves the Trees

7986_300The baby-sitters take the kids for a picnic by a brook. (Woah, do you think this is THE Stoney Brook??)

They find an injured bird, but Dawn cautions against getting too close. Kristy says, “Sometimes it’s better to let nature take its course.” And an adorable little preschool boy replies, “You mean let him die??” GEEZ, KRISTY. But instead they agree to call the parks department.

On their way to find the proper bird-authorities, Dawn stumbles upon some surveyors who plan to build a road through the woods. She goes to city hall and requests information. They give her a copy of all of the plans and permits. She promptly throws all of these papers into the trash because she figures they only gave them to her to slow her down with READING. So much for informed civic duty…oh and saving the trees. That is not a recycling bin, Dawn. Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 11.50.28 AM

She also meets a new teenage boy (played by Zach Braff) immediately after that so Dawn has a LOT going on right now.

Dawn decides to plan a demonstration. She’s even going to make one of the kids dress up as a tree! Geez, these parents give the baby-sitters a lot of latitude with their children.

Dawn is supposed to go on a date with Zach Braff, but he comes over to pick her up and sees her picket signs…which prompts him to tell her that he supports the road and his mother is the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works.

Dawn yells. A lot. And refuses to go out with him. Even Kristy tells her that Dawn was rude…and like Kristy is THE rudest.

mv5bntqyntq1mtu4mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwotmwmjezmje-_v1_So Dawn goes to the hearing and tells everyone it’s wrong to cut down trees. And Zach Braff’s mom is all like um sounds like you didn’t even read the plans because we’re going to build an access road so elderly people and those who can’t trek over rocks like you and your friends can enjoy this park and also we’re building recycling facilities there so that people don’t throw their trash in the water. I guess Dawn wants to save face because she still tries to tell them they’re ruining everything, but it is just embarrassing at this point.

Afterwards, Mary-Anne tells Dawn, “You have to learn to persuade, not just scream and yell.” That’s insightful stuff, Mary-Anne!

Dawn finally does some research and with input from the club and drawing by Claudia, she creates plans for an accessible packed-dirt pathway that winds around the trees. She goes to Zach Braff with the idea. He has his mom meet them by the park, where she reviews the plans. She is impressed and agrees to take the plans back to the commission for further review.

Very Special Lesson: I think Dawn best sums this up when David asks her why she didn’t come up with the great packed-dirt road idea earlier: “Because I’m a jerk. Well, a nice jerk that just gets a little too worked up.

Also, fun fact. This is kinda based on a true story or life imates art or art imitates life or idk but here’s the park they filmed at in NJ:

Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 12.22.58 PM.png

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Babysitters and The Boysitters

s-l300Logan, as you may recall, is both Mary-Anne’s boyfriend and a BSC associate member, meaning he babysits occasionally but isn’t really in the club. When the official club members are all booked out and Logan can’t help, Mary-Anne suggests that they extend affiliate membership to more boys.

But Kristy–is shockingly into gender roles. Like, Kristy, seriously, have some self-awareness. She doesn’t want to have the boys babysit, but the rest of the group convinces her.

And then they teach the boys how to diaper baby dolls. They also pretend to be screaming/crying children who want cookies, which is weird and kinda freaking me out. Mallory even wears a bib while a boy her age attempts to feed her baby food, which she refuses. WTF. WHERE ARE THE PARENTS.

I understand most people are like worried about their kids drinking or doing drugs, but if I ever find my teenaged daughter wearing a bib while a teenaged boy tries to feed her baby food, I will lose my *$%#ing mind.

Meanwhile, Kristy follows a boy around on a trial-sitting date, with a notepad, and a judge-y face. But this boy sitter teaches the kids to make french toast right on the counter and I think that’s chill as long as he cleans up because all of those germs are getting killed in the frying pan anyway, right? I dunno…I’m not a big cooker…so please don’t take my word on food safety…but it looks like they’re having fun!

TBH these boysitters seem like fun and none of the kids are sick or injured or failing school or whatever…so it sort of seems like the BSC members are being sticks in the mud for no reason.

Some of the kids climb on the roof while Kristy is sitting, so yeah, I see how that is a problem…um but maybe you should have been WATCHING them Kristy instead of talking to only one of the children while you didn’t even know WHERE the others were.

She tries to blame the boysitter for teaching them to climb, but the little boys tell her that he didn’t let them climb on the roof. EYES AND EARS, KRISTY, EYES AND EARS. All he did was show them how to climb a tree and Claudia was all like, “it could be dangerous.”

SMH. YOU’RE KILLING ME, BSC. I don’t want to side with the males, but like they’re right. There is nothing wrong with teaching a kid to climb a tree as long as you pay attention and don’t let them climb buildings because you’re chilling and not watching out. And you know what, teenage girls know that just as much as teenage boys. So, frankly, I’m mad at this TV show for acting like having fun while still being appropriately safe is a male-centric trait.

Vindictive bitch that she is, Kristy has the boysitters take the kids to an arcade for the day, hoping they’ll fail. Oh right, child’s best interest at heart, always, Kristy? Like this was all about keeping the kids safe??

bsc-tv-10-baby-sitters-and-the-boy-sitters-38-game-centerThe two boysitters loose the kids and they panic. It’s totally heart-wrenching to watch. Honestly, I’m not sure that two BSC members could have done any better. They probably have enough experience at this point to have a better sitter:child ratio and it’s sketchy and cruel that they set less-experienced sitters up to fail.

Luckily, the BSC happens to be walking by when the kids appear unattended, so Mallory and Dawn low-key swoop in to make sure nothing bad happens. But they don’t announce their presence to the boysitters and instead hover in the periphery because they still want to be self-righteous and mean…ahhh junior high school over-developed sense of superiority…

Kristy finally confronts the boys and tells them that no one could have handled the situation. Realizing that they’ve been setup, one boy asks why Kristy let them take the kids to the arcade on a busy Saturday when she knew it would be bedlam, but the other boy interrupts him and says they wouldn’t have listened to her anyway.

I mean…but that still doesn’t really make it okay…

Oh well, they all decide to be friends.

Very Special Lesson: When hiring new employees, criticize their approaches, set them up to fail, and somehow, miraculously, they will still like you and want to work with you.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Jessi and the Mystery of the Stolen Secrets

Jessi learned sign language so she could communicate with a kid she sits for. First of all, that level of dedication is amazing. Secondly, I’m just flat our impressed.

She’s also babysitting for a top-secret charge. He’s a big star in HOLLYWOOD but he’s from Stoney Brook. The only people who know he’s in town are the people in the BSC. And they would NEVER EVER gossip!!!

So when a bunch of reporters show up at his house, the only logical conclusion is that someone is SPYING ON THE BSC.

Kristy calls an emergency meeting of the BSC. How many emergency meetings have we had in this club? What do you think an emergency is, Kristy?!?

spyingAfter searching Claudia’s bedroom for a bug, like normal-average paranoid teenagers, they realize that they’ve all been super careless with the BSC notebook – a binder where they write down everything that’s going on with the kids, so they’re all informed when they switch sitters. Most of the members admit to leaving the kids alone with the notebook, where they could have easily read it.

Jessi demands they do something because the famous kids mom thinks that she cannot be trusted…and it’s like well YEAH…you cannot be trusted. You wrote down the whereabouts of a famous child and then left that information unattended in a library where the kid you were with or any other person could have happened upon it.

Kristy is stressing because the business implications are BAD. So Dawn suggests that they leave the notebook out on a table in the library and see who reads it.

Oh…okay so you’re just going to leave a book open in a library and then accuse whoever happens to read it of being a spy?? Geez. Like. Where are the adults? Why are they letting these teenage girls get so weird and obsessive about babysitting. EVERYTHING IN MODERATION.

They leave this notebook out for all of the kids to see, and they tell them that it’s all super private. They’re like we write all about the kids we sit for in it, even you, and you can’t see it. SO DUH THE KIDS GET PISSED. [The simple days before social media.] And then the parents get pissed.

So then the BSC has to go around explaining to everyone that it’s a private, confidential notebook that is only meant to help them be more effective babysitters. And like who wouldn’t want a fourteen year old keeping case notes on their kid?

bsc-tv-9-jessi-and-the-mystery-of-the-stolen-secrets-13-jessi-matt-phoneBut during the meeting with the kids, they realize that the deaf child can actually read lips. So he didn’t realize when Jessi was talking on the phone that it was a secret because she just assumed he couldn’t understand and didn’t take any extra care to conceal her conversation from him.

Very Special Lesson: I mean, don’t you think it would have been important to tell your child’s babysitter that he was learning to lip read?

 

The Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia & The Mystery of The Secret Passage

As an avid Clue player, I love a secret passage. 

hqdefaultThis episode starts off with the BSC looking at baby photos of themselves and remarking on whether or not they look like their siblings. “Do most sisters look-alike,” Mary Anne queries. I’m concerned about the quality of education they’re getting at Stony Brook Middle School…

So as it turns out Dawn just happens to have a secret passage chilling in her house. UGH SHE HAS THE BEST LIFE. Great hair. Great step-sister. Great secret passage.

The BSC is working on a photo-history project and Dawn has stored the bulletin board there because it was too big and obtrusive to keep in her room. (Hm… I mean okay fine whatever guess we have to investigate the secret passage somehow). Instead of leaning the bulletin board against a wall in this very spacious passage, Dawn has wedged it in between insulation pieces in a broken-down partial-wall.

Dawn can’t pull the bulletin board out easily, so she pulls while Claudia pushes from the other side. In the process, Claudia finds a taped up “treasure map” in the wall.

Okay finding things in walls is cool. Treasure maps are cool. But you wedged a bulletin board in a broken wall? Like it’s a freaking secret passage. You could have just been like “cool, let’s snoop in the secret passage.” Also, can you imagine a Goonies version of the BSC? Kristy would be like absolutely crazy on the treasure path.

But it isn’t a treasure map. It’s just an old note. The note reads: “I didn’t lose Bettina’s diamond ring. Why won’t she believe me? She’s so mean sometimes that I’m afraid of her. I wish with all my heart I never had a big sister. I vow never ever to speak to her again.”

Claudia decides that “Bettina sounds really evil.” Geez. Harsh, Claud. And they decide the whole BSC will investigate on Friday night at a sleepover. In another big assumption, Claudia decides that these sisters are dead. So they all agree to have a spooky séance, hoping to restore the sister’s spiritual peace.

mv5bmtuwmza5otm1m15bml5banbnxkftztgwmdixndezmje-_v1_uy268_cr870182268_al_The séance is pretty lame, but Kristy tries to spook everyone with a tape recording of ghost noises, which is kinda cool. Then the wind blows their candles out and Kristy tries to hide the tape recorder in the insulation before anyone can catch her red-handed. That’s when she finds the missing ring! The band is broken, so it probs just fell off in the passageway many years ago.

The BSC decides this proves that Bettina’s sister is not a thief. The next day Claudia brags to her older sister that the séance was a massive success. She’s all like, “I bet this letter is two hundred years old.” And her sister is like you idiot, “When do you think they invented transparent tape?”

As it turns out, transparent tape was invented in the 1930s. Since the letter was taped to the insulation, it can’t be any older than that. So the BSC goes to the library and hunts through all of the old year books for “Bettina.” They come up with nothing and decide to try jewelry stores instead.

The jeweler confirms that the style was very popular in the 1950s, but they didn’t keep records of who they sold them to. However, he remembers Bettina and confirms that she married a local grocer. AND OMG IT TURNS OUT TO BE THE GROCER WHOSE GROCERY STORE THE BSC WENT TO FOR SLEEPOVER SNACKS.

Aw wait bummer, the grocer is dead and the store is under new ownership. The new owner thinks that his widow opened a flower shop. So the girls head to a bunch of flower shops. They begin to convince themselves that Bettina must have killed Flora, the little sister, because no one in town remembers what happened to her.

When they finally find Bettina, they think that she is threatening them with gardening shears. And then Flora walks in while they’re all screaming like lunatics. They return the ring and realize the sisters got over it like at least three decades earlier anyhow.

The episode ends with the BSC hosting a picnic to celebrate all of their little sisters. Claudia’s older sister makes cupcakes and Stacey brings a kid she babysits for because she’s an only child. They also invite Bettina and Flora and, surprise, Flora is EMILY GILMORE.

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Very Special Lesson: I tried to be as snarky as possible and yet I find this episode totally heartwarming.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Dawn and the Dream Boy

Dawn has her eye set on Jamie, a soccer-playing boy with a middle-part bowl cut — the epitome of 90’s Teen Beat cool. So she decides to get him to invite her to The Sweetheart Dance.

He just so happens to be a soccer coach for one of the kids they babysit for. Mary-Anne invites Dawn to come along on her baby-sitting gig, so she can help pick the kid up from practice. But Dawn is all like nah, I have a dentist appointment. I mean, I’m all for dental hygiene but like…this girl needs a date to The Sweetheart Dance, so can’t she reschedule???

whatsyourbrasize

So Mary-Anne goes alone but tries to talk Dawn up anyway. “She’s the really pretty blonde with blue eyes and beautiful skin.” She also calls her a “star babysitter” and says that “Dawn is really great with kids.” Ugh Mary-Anne you’re trying to get Dawn a date to the dance not married-off on the Oregon trail.

But here’s what happens when you go to the dentist instead of talking to your crush. Your crush crushes on the pretty girl who DID talk to him. A very devastating moment occurs when Jamie calls their house to ask Mary-Anne for a date. Dawn answers the phone and this dummy doesn’t even check to make sure he has the right sister. So Dawn gets all ready for her big date only to realize when Jamie comes to pick her up that she isn’t who he was expecting.

Ugh. This is rough. This is hard to watch, guys.

So Dawn freezes out Mary-Anne because she’s somehow convinced that Mary-Anne likes Jamie and somehow orchestrated this whole thing. But like to what end, Dawn??? To embarrass you?? Mary-Anne is the sweetest person in the whole world. Plus, she has to see you at the baby-sitters club AND at home and we know ya’ll don’t do anything else in your lives, so why would she want to destroy you and make her life miserable when she has to deal with you 24/7?

Eventually, they aren’t speaking to each other at all. They’re decorating for the dance (which they’ve also somehow volunteered their baby-sitting wards for) and asking the children to communicate between them. That’s messed up.

But then they transition to sickening sweet passive-aggression, which is much, much worse. Kristy intervenes and tells them to put the situation on ice until after they finish the decorations, at which point she’s going to have “an emergency meeting of the baby-sitters club.”

OH MY.

Kristy makes them each tell their side of the story without interrupting each other. Mary-Anne tells Dawn that she loves her and she loves Logan so she’s not trying to cheat on his ass or hurt her sister. OBVIOUSLY. This resolves everything in 30 seconds and the BSC decides to all go to the dance together.

Jamie asks Dawn to dance and she agrees. And this is truly something to behold. We watch them awkward dance to 90’s Muzak for much too long. I tried to find a clip because I wanted you all to suffer like I did, but this picture will have to suffice instead:

22-dawndbdance

Very Special Lesson: Look, I’m mad at this episode because Dawn was very much the crazy paranoid jealous girl trope. So just like. Don’t be that trope. For the sake of feminism. Please.