The Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia and the Missing Jewels

Okay, listen, “JEWELS” is a stretch. Claudia is selling some of her homemade earrings at a crafts fair and this is like one-step up from macaroni jewelry people. Within two minutes, a local boutique owner purchases a pair of earrings and gives Claudia a downpayment to make 4 more pairs.

That downpayment is $50. FIFTY DOLLARS!! And that’s 1990 money people! So it’s worth almost twice as much in today’s dollars. Geez. Well let’s hope she does more with this career opportunity than Stacey did.

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Oh wait, she wants to use the advance to let the kids they baby-sit for buy plants to pot for a plant sale. Smh. You know you’re in a cult when they start taking all your money.

One day, Claudia goes over to Kristy’s house to babysit her little sister Karen because Kristy is busy studying. She also brings over the jewelry she’s been working on, which soon goes missing.

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Kristy immediately blames their housekeeper, Julie. Oh. So like. She’s classist too. Geez, Kristy. So they babysitters decide to go undercover (aka wear brightly colored sunglasses) and stalk her through scenic downtown Rutherford, NJ — I mean Stoneybrook, CT. Lucky for them, the housekeeper is pretty spacey and doesn’t catch them. But they’re also terrible detectives and lose track of her.

In another stroke of luck, Julie walks right into the pizza place they’re hanging out in. They notice she’s wearing Claudia’s earrings but they’re all afraid to confront her.

Meanwhile, Karen keeps trying to get Kristy to check out her tree with cool stuff in it. But Kristy is too busy trying to deal with Julie to see the tree. So I think we all know where this is going.

When Kristy finally works up the courage to call Julie a thief to her face, Julie tells Kristy that the earrings were a birthday gift from Karen. Connecting the dots, Kristy realizes that Karen only wants her attention and was planning to give the jewelry back as soon as she ventured over to the tree.

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Very Special Lesson: How many of these episodes are dedicated to Kristy learning not to be an a-hole? TBH I never read a Kristy-centered book in my BSC days and now I’m remembering why.

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The BSC: The Baby-Sitter’s Special Christmas

Happy Christmas in July! This post was originally posted in December of 2014.
The show opens with the baby-sitters perusing many different Christmas socks and oohing and awing indiscriminately over everything they pass. Then this bunch of 14-year olds descends upon a mall Santa’s lap, yet oddly it’s they who look like the creeps here—Jessie casually strokes Santa’s beard while he rolls his eyes and gently shakes his head. Poor guy, he’s just trying to make minimum wage around the holidays.

jessie creeps on santaAfter the mall, the sitters head on over to the hospital to throw a Christmas party for the kids. Everyone has markers and big pads of paper except for Mallory who gets the bitch job of sorting out the paper chain. Dawn wants to make Christmas cookies when she and Stacey babysit some obnoxious little boys, including little Pete from The Adventures of Pete and Pete. Dawn gets all self-conscious when she realizes that she’s totally disregarded Stacey’s diabetes. I don’t know how she forgot since Stacey mentions it like every other sentence.

Mary-Anne comes up with the idea to have secret Santa as soon as a couple of the girls complain that they don’t have enough money to buy everyone a gift. She instantaneously passes out slips of pre-cut paper. Probably a quiet power play since Kristy wouldn’t like someone else taking charge. “Oh I’ll just casually have these pre-cut slips of paper to pass out like I just thought of it.”

death by cookieLater on, whilst baby-sitting Stacey starts shoveling cookies into her mouth all cavalierly like she’s not stuffing her body with poison. Who even thought this was a good idea–o give already rambunctious children a ton of sugar? The only reason they didn’t totally destroy the house is probably that Stacey consumed a toxic amount of sugar herself.

Dawn totally outs Stacey at the Christmas party and super bitchily says, “I just don’t like it when people don’t take care of themselves.” Like she’s personally affronted by Stacey’s reckless behavior, but not because she’s concerned about her best friend but rather she doesn’t like it on principle. Dawn and her ideals. To be fair, the babysitters do seem to be exclusively having sweets at their soirees in the episode.

BSC X-masOf course, Stacey ends up on the hospital because all she has eaten in the past day is cookies and chocolate. I knew (of) a couple of diabetic kids growing up and once they were old enough to realize that sugar could literally kill them, I never remember any of them tempted to gorge themselves on it, so I can only assume that this is some kind of risky adolescent rebellion on Stacey’s part.  Drugs seem pretty hard to come by in Stonybrook, so it looks like everyone has to settle for a sugar high. Otherwise, this seems like a pretty serious cry for help. Why aren’t we talking about Stacey’s clearly self-destructive tendencies, instead of being all like “lay off the cookies, Stace.” Everything turns out okay though because Stacey gets to come to the party with all of the other children…which makes me wonder why the babysitters are only throwing a party for young children. Wouldn’t it suck to be thirteen and stuck in the hospital? I’m thinking that these girls don’t actually interact with their peers outside of this club. Would they even be friends if they weren’t also business associates?

Very Christmas Lesson: Don’t make your diabetic friends make cookies that they can’t eat. Ever hear of artificial sweetener, people?

 

The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy and The Great Campaign

Kristy’s baby-sitting a shy kid, Courtney, who is new in town. Apparently in Stoneybrook, third-graders run for student council. And it just so happens that Kristy’s rival’s little brother is running for third-grade student council. Showing a characteristic complete lack of boundaries, Kristy decides to get way too involved in this and becomes the new kid’s campaign manager.

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Sweet, sweet Mary Anne is the only baby-sitter who doesn’t immediately jump on-board to help with this campaign. Similarly shy Mary Anne wants to make sure Courtney is really on board with this, but all of the other baby-sitters are too swept up in Kristy’s new “great” idea to even listen to her.

hqdefault3So then a bunch of thirteen-year old girls swarm this little eight year-old’s house chanting her new campaign slogan “Count on Court!” Kristy micromanages the whole process. (Oh btw she’s supposed to be BABY-SITTING THIS KID not turning her into the Manchurian Candidate). It isn’t long before they’re taking this poor girl to the mall for a makeover.

mv5bmje3mjcxmtk3m15bml5banbnxkftztgwmzc3nzezmje-_v1_uy1200_cr48506301200_al_But even the other sitters know that Kristy is cray. She overrides Mary Anne when she gives Courtney permission to play with a friend after-school before practicing her speech. It seriously feels like middle-school involvement in elementary-school elections should be banned. This has good to be the grade school equivalent of a foreign campaign contribution.

There’s even some shady dealings from her opponent. He tries to sabotage her with a snake in front of the whole school, but she loves animals and isn’t afraid of it, which only makes her campaign more successful.

When Courtney overhears Kristy arguing with her opponent’s older brother, she realizes that Kristy is more interested in winning than helping. The rest of the sitters feel awful that they didn’t intervene earlier.

But seriously, it’s easy to hate on Kristy. However, I love her. I really do. You can tell that she’s got a good heart under all of that overbearing control-freak mania. She apologizes to Courtney and tells her that winning isn’t as important as being yourself. Awwwwww.

Very Special Lesson: (see last complete sentence of previous paragraph.)

The Baby-Sitters Club: Stacey’s Big Break

Okay, so a LOT is happening in this episode. First of all, the BSC is trying to put together “a major Baby-Sitters Club production” of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Secondly, Stacey’s gotten some work as a model for a local department store fashion show!

This is the look her friends convince her to wear to the shoot. I’m not sure even 1990 can be used as an excuse for this:

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Meanwhile, Kristy tries to bully a small boy into wearing tights as part of his “Grumpy” the dwarf costume. Then she yells at the children for not listening to her (she’s the director). Like what is the purpose of this? Why don’t these girls just go to the mall like every other group 90’s teens? Why are they choosing to corral a bunch of kindergarteners into a play that most of them seem like they do NOT want to participate in?

Yo, but this was like my ideal party dress in the early-90’s and I feel like Stacey, at least, is living her best life:
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But sadly, she can’t eat pizza with the rest of the girls because some a-hole grown up at the photoshoot told her to lose ten pounds. To make matters worse, one of the kids she babysits for is all pissed off at her because she missed play rehearsal. But it’s FINE because that kid is rehearsing with Dawn now, so just move on with your new fabulous life, Stacey!

Now Stacey is mad at Dawn for rehearsing with her favorite kid. Okay, dude, you guys NEED to get out more. Thankfully, Stacey rage eats some pizza so we don’t have to worry about her starving herself.

Stacey wins the department store fashion competition and blessedly looks much better than she did when she went to that first photo shoot. I would probably wear this outfit now. It’s classic retro-chic.

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I gotta be honest, I was very sus of this whole situation. I thought Stacey was going to complain about being overwhelmed with the department’s store modeling gig and I was all prepared to be like “GOSH, STACEY IT’S JUST CATALOG WORK!” However things really start to take off for her. She’s about to shoot a commercial and take a trip to LA when she decides that she’s missing too much of The Baby-Sitters Club.

I mean she *claims* that she just wants to be a kid, but she rushes back to the BSC to coach that little girl through her stilted performance of Snow White. So it seems more like she just wants to be a mom.

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Ordinarily, I would be CHEERING for a young girl who decided that the entertainment industry was not for her. But instead I’m like, “Where are this child’s parents?!? Why are they not concerned that her only hobby is babysitting??”

So we watch Stacey observing the play and throwing away her own career aspirations to take care of a child that isn’t even her own, in what I assume is presumably meant to be a happy ending. And eventually, she will grow up and be part of the pay equity problem.

Very Special Lesson: I’m starting to wonder if The BSC may possess some cult-like characteristics. If there’s anything I learned from 90’s television, it’s that cults can be found in many deceptive forms.

The BSC: Dawn and the Haunted House

This post was originally posted during Halloweek 2015.
Things start off ominously in this episode of The Baby-Sitters Club. There’s a sketchy haunted house and Claudia is being super cryptic about something. Actually, it turns out she’s failing out of middle school. Her mom’s set her up with a tutor but she’s going to have to miss out on some BSC meetings. No big deal though, she can just explain the situation to her friends.

Except she doesn’t plan on doing that, she makes some big dramatic deal out of this and says, “I can’t live without The Baby-Sitters Club and The Baby-Sitters Club can’t live without me.” Geez.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.37.43 AMAnyway, Dawn and Stacey end up babysitting for this kid who is obsessed with dinosaur fossils. He wants to go hunt bones in the backyard because there are a lot of them by Mrs. Slade’s house. Dawn and Stacey are like wtf?? And this kid is just like, “She’s a witch lady. She talks to animals and turns people into dogs.”

So the baby-sitters decide to take the kids outside to investigate. Yep, that’s right, the people you trust to keep your children safe while you are at the mall are taking them on a literal witch hunt. They evacuate the woods when they find a sick looking dog and a hear strange noises coming from the general vicinity of Ms. Slade’s house.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 11.29.25 AMThen they go to the hardware store to meet the other babysitters! “I just love hardware stores,” Stacey says, “next to Bloomingdale’s there’s no place I’d rather be.” Uh, yeah. Okay. As it turns out, Mrs. Slade is also shopping in the hardware store. She’s purchasing some really creepy stuff too: a lantern (for working late at night) and a shovel (for digging deep). I mean I think it’s pretty obvious that she’s burying bodies in the night.

That night at their spooky sleepover party, they all tell stories about the scariest thing that has ever happened to them. Mallory’s story is about how she was walking home with a group in the woods and THEY ALL LEFT HER to take the road instead. Seriously, I wonder if they make her super sad intentionally.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 11.32.16 AMThen they start talking about how creepy Mrs. Slade is and Claudia tells them all that her behavior is probably perfectly normal. When they bring up the shovel incident, Claudia says, “so she gardens,” and Dawn calls that the “dumbest thing [she’s] ever heard.” Well, no, it’s definitely the only intelligent thing anyone has said about this poor woman. But Claudia gets her feelings her and storms off. They’re all like geez, I wish I knew what was wrong with her! And I’m just wondering how NONE of them have managed to notice that Claudia has been reading a textbook for the entire duration of this slumber party. They are terrible detectives.

Then Stacey goes back to babysit for fossil kid. This time she has Mary Anne with her. Fossil kid is all like hey look, I can see Mrs. Slade through my telescope! And Stacey is all like,” it’s not nice to spy on people,” but then she pushes him out of the way so she can spy on Mrs. Slade herself. She sees Claudia through the telescope with Mrs. Slade. Mrs. Slade is rubbing some kind of herb on their faces, and even I have to admit that’s weird.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 11.06.45 AMStacey calls Dawn to get the BSC over to the Slade house to rescue Claudia. Basically, their plan consists of Stacey telling Mrs. Slade that there is a wounded dog in the woods. So Mrs. Slade is going to go looking for the dog, and the girls will seize that opportunity to “rescue” Claudia. Well, this seems extraordinarily cruel but okay.

Dawn, Jessi, and Kristy enter the house for the rescue mission. They make Mallory wait outside and watch the door. Claudia hears them poking around and tells them that Mrs. Slade is definitely not a witch. She’s a former vet who is now tutoring Claudia in biology. So now the BSC has sent a veterinarian out looking for a hurt dog and Claudia is basically like you jerks, she will stay out there all night.

So the BSC goes out looking for Mrs. Slade. They’re calling for her and nothing works, so then Claudia has a great idea. “I bet she’ll hear us if we bark like dogs.” So then they all howl and it works. Omg. This is the weirdest episode ever. Then they all have to tell her that they thought she was a witch and that they lied about the dog. But it wasn’t a total loss because Mrs. Slade found a bird who needs to have his wing mended.

Halloween Lesson: Don’t call old ladies witches. That’s like breaking a cardinal rule of feminism or something.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Mary Anne And The Brunettes

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. This theme song is magic. Also, I need to take a moment to let you know that there is a full album available for you to enjoy on YouTube.

So this is the first episode of the series and as such we need to dispense with a few very important titles:
Claudia – Vice President. Anyone who knows The BSC knows that Claudia only got this title because she’s the one who has her own phone line.
Mary Anne – Secretary. I dunno, I guess she has good handwriting? Plus, she’s the only one who is enough of a pushover for Kristy to bully into taking notes at the meetings.
Dawn – Alternate Officer. This sounds like a dumb title you give to someone that you don’t actually trust enough to do any work.
Jessie – Junior Officer. Oh wait, Kristy managed to come up with an even more insulting title than “Alternate Officer.”
Mallory – Other Junior Officer. Oh, God, Mallory. I just know you’ll spend years in a therapist’s office when you grow up. (Please note: There are absolutely no episodes in the series that feature a main story about Mallory.)
Kristy – President (Duh)
Logan – Associate. Not OFFICIALLY in the club but he gets babysitting jobs sometimes.

91s95k5m7sl-_sl1500_Mary Anne asks Logan to babysit with her and all of the girls ooh and ah like it’s a “date,” which for them it probably is because I love The BSC but they’re not exactly the coolest bunch of middle schoolers. Kristy complains about how every boy at school is gross, but this isn’t shocking because I’m 99.99% sure that she’s in the closet.

Also, please note that Logan has a southern accent. This will be relevant later.

Anyway, The BSC + Logan go to the department store to buy art supplies. In the store, they run into a trio of girls, the titular brunettes. One of them, Marci, is out to win lure Logan away from his girlfriend, Mary Anne. While Mary-Anne is in another part of the store, Marci invites Logan to go to a party with her after the upcoming carnival.

hqdefault1Kristy observes this and makes a big deal about it to Mary Anne, who just like doesn’t really care. She completely trusts Logan…that is until Marci comes up to her at the skate park and says she’s looking for Logan. She says he promised to meet her there. The rest of the BSC decides to spy on Logan so they can figure out what’s really going on. But Mary Anne still trusts him and tells them all to chill.

Finally they get to her and she decides to be assertive. But she’s really bad at it. She practices in front of her mirror, but she can’t figure out what to say. So then she like maybe gives up on talking to him? I’m not sure. I guess we have to wait and see how this plays out.

148453_originalHm. So this is interesting. She didn’t confront him. But she also like pushed him away when he asked her if she still wanted him to babysit with her. She was all like “You go have fun at the party. I’ll be fine alone.” MARY ANNE. NO. ugh.

Logan decides to help Mary Anne babysit and she gets all mad at him again. And once again tells him to go to the party. THIS IS LITERALLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT SHE WANTS.

It take a young Danny Tamberelli (her babysitting charge) to point out the fact that she’s literally telling Logan the opposite of what she wants for her to realize she should probably tell him what’s up.

kathimiddle2When she finally talks to him she realizes that he never agreed to go to the party with Marci. They’re lab partners and Marci just decided to tell everyone they were dating. Creepy. Then Logan and Mary Anne promise each other that they’ll always talk to each other if something bothers them. Omg. So freaking adorable.

After Logan and Mary Anne make up, the rest of the BSC shows up to tell Mary Anne that Logan sucks. (They went to the party and listened to Marci’s lies). Logan is super chill about all the accusations and joins them for a bite to eat.

This episode makes me kind of sad because the dude is level-headed and the girls are kinda dramatic and gossipy. But…it does seem pretty accurate to my memories of middle school. Plus, Mary Anne wasn’t a gossipy accuser. She just needed to learn how to be more upfront with her feelings. Ugh. Don’t we all.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t listen to GOSSIP.

Fun Fact: Danny Tamberelli and Michael Maronna, who played Big Pete to Tamberelli’s Little Pete on The Adventures of Pete and Pete have a podcast?!?

 

Kristy and The Great Reboot Idea

ec64c567-ea00-4d5e-89be-225938f4cfbaFYI the latest reboot is The Baby-Sitters ClubI seriously could devote an entire blog to reboots at this point, but that is NOT my vibe.

The original BSC series was my jam. It originated on HBO in 1990, but those of us without that cable-packaged movie-channel add-on luxury were lucky enough to catch it in reruns on The Disney Channel in the mid 90’s.

So with this reboot I’m having a mixture of feelings, even more so than usual, because the news of this reboot makes me feel simultaneously very happy and very old. I didn’t realize how old the original series was until this very point in time. I was like “wtf it’s not like as old as Magnum, P.I.” But the thing is, it is like as old as Magnum, P.I. *Insert light weeping noises here.*

But in the spirit of summer, I’m going to bury bummer feelings into a glass of rosé and review every damn episode of this magical series in order because it is TIMELESS and I’m just majorly bummed that reboots have killed reruns. If they reboot Cheers, I will lose my mother-effing mind.

That said, the original BSC series is available on Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. Watch along, won’t you?

First post on Friday.