In the beginning of the 2020 lockdown, with the initial stages of whipping dalogna coffee and Doja Cat’s ‘Say So’ taking over social media and too many adults learning TikTok dances, The Babysitters Club was quietly released on Netflix. The series beautifully combined the nostalgia from the books that gained popularity in the 1990s and the normalcy of what childhood has become in the late-2010s. The Netflix series was met with acclaim and praise. Of course, a second season was ordered.
The second season opens with a full roster of babysitters, many of whom we remember from Season 1. But there are of course new additions. The newest members include awkwardly-endearing redhead Mallory Pike (Vivian Watson) and aspiring Black ballerina Jessi Ramsey (Anais Lee). While the original founding members of the club return, there is an air of maturity in all the members. Now, the Babysitters Club is properly established and they are all gaining new experiences. Tomboyish president Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace) tries to adjust to an upper-class lifestyle after her mother marries a wealthier man. Mary Anne Spier (Malia Baker) navigates her relationship and the expectations that comes with a boyfriend in the social media age. Fabulous Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph) tries to balance the not-so fabulous reality of having diabetes. Fan favourite Claudia Kishi (Momona Tamada) continues to serve enviably fashionable ensembles and scene stealing moments.
Overall most of last year’s cast has returned, even the supporting characters with the exception of the free-spirited Dawn Schafer. The original actress, Xochitl Gomez, recieved quite a promotion following her breakout performance in the first season. She has been cast as Marvel’s America Chavez aka Miss America. Dawn is now played by Kyndra Sanchez. Despite a new actor the character maintains the activist characteristics that readers and original series viewers fell in love with. Sanchez is a ray of sunshine when the camera hits although sometimes she can be a bit too bright. With most of the character’s dialouge stemming from social justice infographics it might have been better if they’d managed to tone her down a bit.
While the first season focused on building the eponymous Babysitters Club, the second season focuses on keeping the operation going. The BSC has gained respect and a good reputation in the homely town of Stonybrook. The central focus, babysitting is the vehicle that pushes the characters’ narratives. The writers continue to balance a careful line between fantasy and current reality, writing character arcs that reflect the post-Covid lockdown experiences. Stacey struggles with her body autonomy for example. Dawn tries to maintain a chill attitude as Mary Anne moves in, upturning her living arrangements. Jessi wonders if she should start a career on TikTok, and Claudia processes grief and healing. As the episodes unfold, they all felt relevant. Viewers should be able to relate to the emotional aftermath of living in a pandemic. It almost feels like a comforting hug, someone else understands.
If the first season of The Babysitters Club was meant to revive your nostalgia, the second season is meant to connect with your inner-child. The girls have always prided themselves on their maturity, and the writers continue to emphasize that. This season the girls stretch farther away from the innoncence of childhood as they enter the next stage of their lives.
There are moments when the characters have to prove that maturity. They demonstrate that patience is key. That people-pleasing isn’t all there is and that promises can’t always be kept. As the girls interact with the adults (led by the lovely Alicia Silverstone) and their subplots, the younger perspectives give a much needed perspective.
This is an eight-episode embrace that makes you stop from the busyness of life and resonate its warmth. The delicately intertwined adaptation between the retro books and modern vernacular showcase the precarious moment of growing up before the voyeuristic teenage years. The second season hits more personal notes as we follow more of our characters’ internal journeys than their services in babysitting. After all the club doesn’t make the characters, the characters who make the club!
For more from Ammaarah, check out her review of Blood & Water Season 2 here!