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Series / The Baby-Sitters Club (2020)

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Outspoken tomboy and seventh-grader Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace) convinces her two childhood friends — her shy and closest friend Mary Anne Spier (Malia Baker) and the artsy Claudia Kishi (Momona Tamada) — to start a babysitting club in order to cut down on Internet-related hassle for their neighborhood. Joining them is Claudia's new friend Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph), a chic girl from New York City, and later Mary Anne's new friend Dawn Schafer (Xochitl Gomez in season 1, Kyndra Sanchez in season 2), a passionate activist from California. The girls not only have their ups and down with their babysitting charges, but also often deal with issues in their personal lives, whether it be family problems or boy crushes.

This is a modern adaptation of the 1980s-2000s book series The Baby-Sitters Club, produced by Netflix and given a Setting Update to 2020. The series ran for two seasons before being cancelled in March 2022 by Netflix.

The Baby-Sitters Club provides examples of:

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  • Actor Allusion:
    • After having a talk with her mother in Episode 1, Kristy admits in the narration, "My mom might have weird taste in men, but when it came to life, I guess she wasn’t totally clueless." Elizabeth Thomas is played by Alicia Silverstone, who also played the protagonist Cher in Clueless.
    • As another shout-out to Elizabeth Thomas being in Clueless, Claudia also wears a version of Cher's Iconic Outfit with a yellow-and-black check blazer in "Mary Anne Saves The Day" when at the cafeteria.
    • In Season 2, Richard tells the girls to finish their homework before summoning the devil. His actor Marc Evan Jackson played the demon Shawn in The Good Place.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • In the books, while it has impacted the course of her life, Kristy doesn't seem to have any real strong feelings about her father walking out on them (except when it's necessary for a plot point, which just makes the whole thing inconsistent). This adaptation focuses on Kristy's angst about it to the point where she has a tantrum after being reminded of how far her friends and babysitting charges' fathers (even the divorced ones) are willing to go to be involved with their children.
    • In the books, Stacey had drifted apart from her friends due to the amount of medical care she needed, and the final incident that caused everyone to abandon her was wetting the bed at a slumber party. In this adaptation, her "friends" abandoned her gradually, when she stopped being able to go to parties and hang out as often – and it culminated in those people passing around a video of her having a grand mal seizure, something that never happened in the books.
    • The early books were set in the late 80s/early 90s, which would have meant Mimi was born shortly after the turn of the century and an adult by the time World War II occurred. In the adaptation, set in 2020, Mimi was born in America, but was born around World War II – thus she was subjected to the horrors of an internment camp as a small child of only five years old. It's one of her most painful memories and something she understandably does not like to talk about, but when she has her stroke, she begins remembering it vividly.
    • In both the books and the adaptation, Richard is fairly strict with Mary Anne in terms of the way she dresses and keeps her room because of his stress – and cluelessness – of raising her without her mother. But the series also further explores his attachment to certain things in her bedroom. In particular, the Humpty Dumpty wall hanging, which Mary Anne despises in the book and (initially) Netflix series, was hung there by her mother before Mary Anne was born – and by putting it in storage, Richard feels as though he's lost that connection to his former wife.
    • While the book version of "Mary Anne Saves the Day" centered around a fight the club members were having with each other, the episode focuses much more on Mary Anne generally struggling with feeling like she's not good enough and that something is wrong with her, with the fight (which has a different context from the original) being just one element of that.
    • In the books, when the Spiers move in with the Schafers (on a more permanent basis), Dawn's annoyance comes at how opposite they are because both Richard and Mary-Anne are too Type A while Dawn and her mother like things messy. Not only are Dawn and Mary-Anne given a role reversal here – Dawn is a neat freak who cleans up after her mother while Mary-Anne is more free-spirited – but she also has a lot more deep anger over Mary-Anne's relationship with her mother. Dawn has taken care of Sharon for the last year on their own, while Mary-Anne has suddenly come in and fit right in with Sharon's laid-back ways. When Dawn accuses Mary-Anne of taking over her life, her voice breaks when she yells, "My mom!"
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The books and early illustrations comment on Janine Kishi as being plain looking in comparison to her younger sister and with lacking fashion sense. This adaptation has her portrayed by the attractive Aya Furukawa and having a more stylish, edgy style, although her cold and difficult personality still makes her off-putting to others.
  • Adaptational Diversity: Mary Anne and Dawn are white in the books, while here they are both girls of color. Mary Anne is mixed race (African-American/Caucasian) and Dawn is Latina. Charlotte has two mothers, whereas her book parents were a mother and father. Dawn's father is gay here, while his book counterpart was straight. Several minor characters are also LGBT or people of color.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • In the books, Jessi moves to Stoneybrook in the middle of her sixth-grade year (the other girls' eighth grade year). Here she's at the same camp as the other girls in the summer between fifth and sixth grade, and she and Mallory are already best friends, indicating that they were in elementary school together for at least a little while. She and Mallory are also invited to join the club during the camp, unlike the book series where they join after Stacey moves back to New York (around the same time Jessi's family moves to Stoneybrook).
    • Logan Bruno debuts in the tenth book where he moves to Stoneybrook and becomes an associate member of the Baby-Sitters Club. He appears considerably earlier in this adaptation, already going to the same school as the girls and debuting in the first episode when Mary Anne spies on him in the library.
  • Adaptational Gender Identity: In The Babysitters Club, Mary Anne is the preferred sitter for a little girl named Jenny, who is four years old and rather on the prissy side but otherwise fairly unremarkable. Mary Anne is her regular sitter because none of the other sitters like her very much. In the Netflix series revamp, Jenny has been changed to a young transgender girl named Bailey, and Mary Anne is her regular sitter because Bailey's mom trusts Mary Anne — whose father is a coworker — more than she would any other sitter.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • Janine is overall quite a bit more overbearing and less supportive towards Claudia than in the book series, probably to help justify Claudia's resentment of her (which often seemed excessive or disproportionate in the original). In the books, despite their differences, Janine is frequently Claudia's biggest supporter and generally a Cool Big Sis, and Claudia's resentment seems to stem not from anything Janine actually did, but from the mere fact that Janine is the standard by which Claudia is judged and found lacking (which ends up making Claudia look like a jerk at times); the only actual trait of hers that consistently annoys Claudia is her Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, which is ultimately a pretty minor thing. Here, Janine actually earns Claudia's distaste at times, such as by advising their parents to use Claudia's being able to attend the school dance as leverage to "motivate" Claudia to improve her grades.
    • Mr. Redmont in the book is a Reasonable Authority Figure who subtly tells Kristy to learn to be more polite and discreet. In this adaptation, he holds girls to higher standards of behavior than the boys and can be condescending to his students, along with shades of talking about mostly white male historical figures as admirable.
    • Natalie Barrett is more unsympathetic than she is in the original book. While she’s still going through a bad divorce, she’s also flaky and starts taking advantage of Dawn, even using her to record her auditions and making her a stand-in for a therapist about her issues. Not to mention that her inability to give Dawn proper information causes Dawn and Kristy to call the police when they think Buddy’s gone missing (in the corresponding scene in the books, while Mrs. Barrett contributed to the problem, her ex is primarily to blame) and Dawn’s mother has to rightfully call her out on her unhealthy behavior.
  • Adaptational Late Appearance:
    • In the original series, the girls learn about Stacey's diabetes in the first book. In this adaptation, she only confesses about her diabetes in "The Truth About Stacey" when it's no longer possible to hide it and make up excuses.
    • Laine originally makes her debut in "The Truth About Stacey" when Stacey's family has to stay with her family in New York. In this series, Laine gets a name mention in the adapted episode, but otherwise doesn't appear until Episode 9, where she participates in the same camp as the girls.
  • Adaptational Nice Girl:
    • Stacey’s (former) longtime Best Friend, the slightly-snooty Laine Cummings, goes back and forth between being reasonably nice and not getting along with Stacey in the books, to the point where they no longer speak. In the series, Laine is introduced as being very friendly with Mary Anne and finally apologetic of the way she treated Stacey in New York, and they seemingly mend their friendship.
    • Ashley is an antagonist and a bossy False Friend to Claudia in the books, but is a genuinely good friend to Janine in this series.
  • Adaptational Sexuality:
    • Dawn's father is straight in the book series, while he's gay in the adaptation and has a male partner after his divorce. Apparently, he and Sharon knew for a while but were too co-dependent on each other to do anything about it at first. Clearly, it's the reason they eventually divorced.
    • Alex, who along with his cousin Toby befriends Mary Anne and Stacey in Sea City, doesn't have his sexuality stated in the books (although he was very likely straight or bi, seeing as how he has a brief summer romance with Mary Anne and mentions having a girlfriend back home). In the series, he is openly gay (or possibly bi) and talks about his crush on a boy at theater camp.
    • Charlotte Johanssen has a mother and father in the books, making them a heterosexual married couple. In the Netflix series, Charlotte has lesbian parents, making the original Dr. Johanssen at least no longer straight.
    • Janine, who had a boyfriend named Jerry in the original books, has a girlfriend named Ashley Wyeth in this version.
    • Dawn shows an exclusive attraction toward boys in the books. She doesn't date anyone in the TV series but mentions that whoever she falls in love with could be anywhere on the gender spectrum, indicating that she's pansexual (though she doesn't use any labels while describing herself).
  • Adaptational Ugliness: In the books, Mrs. Barrett is described as beautiful and looks like a model. In this series, she's overweight and less conventionally attractive.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Baby-Sitters Agency are antagonistic in the original books and don't do a good job at baby-sitting, but the worst they do to the protagonists is have two members pretend to join the titular club and botch their assignments to make the club look bad. In the episode that adapts "The Truth About Stacey," after Stacey calls Kim Newton about Jamie being left to play in the streets by himself, the Agency retaliate by sending everyone a video of Stacey going into insulin shock, implying that she'd be an unsafe caretaker.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation:
    • "Kristy and the Baby Parade" contains elements of the book of the same name, plus the 1995 movie, and the Friends Forever book "Kristy's Big News".
    • "Claudia and the New Girl" is a mix of books "Claudia and the New Girl" and "Hello Mallory".
    • "Dawn and the Wicked Stepsister" is a mix of "Dawn's Wicked Stepsister" and "Poor Mallory!".
  • Adaptation Distillation: While this series is faithful to the original books and adapts book-canon events in each episode, things are changed or simplified to fit into the 20-minute episode runtime.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Dawn is described as having light blonde hair in the books and is shown as such on book covers. In this adaptation, she is played by a Latina actress with brown hair.
    • In this adaptation, Mary Anne wears glasses all the time, which she doesn't in the original (though early books mentioned that she wore reading glasses). She also has natural (but braided) African-American hair, while Mary Anne in the books was white and simply wore her brown hair in twin braids.
    • For the inverse of a glasses example, Mallory doesn't wear glasses at all, unlike her book counterpart.
    • In this adaptation there are redheads portraying characters who were brunettes in the books (Kristy and Laine). For the inverse, the Pike kids (sans Mallory) have brown hair in the books but are redheads in the TV series.
    • Logan was a blond in the books but is a brunette in the TV series.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Multiple parents have been renamed in the adaptation. John Pike is renamed Forrest, Dee Pike is Deidre, and Rioko Kishi is now Kimiko.
    • Morbidda Destiny's real name in the books is Tabitha, but is changed to Esme in this adaptation.
    • Liz Lewis, the president of the Baby-Sitters' Agency in The Truth about Stacey, is renamed Lacy here.
  • Adapted Out:
    • There is no indication that Dawn has a younger brother like in the book series. Her brother Jeff was the symbol of more-than-a-little of her California homesickness and had originally moved to Stoneybrook with her and Sharon.
    • Prim and proper Jenny Prezziosso and her family don't appear in this version of the series; she's instead replaced by an entirely different character, the sweet and creative Bailey.
    • The club in the book series had associate members, with one of them being Kristy's new neighbor Shannon Kilbourne; prior to joining the club she originally didn't get along with Kristy, but eventually gave the Thomas-Brewers one of her family's purebred Bernese Mountain Dog puppies, which David Michael named after her. Here Shannon the puppy is a rescue and her namesake is the animal-loving adult Mrs. Delaney.
  • An Aesop: Claudia learns that often your relationship and closeness with one relative may not be equal to another relative's and that is okay. Claudia spends lots of one-on-one time with Mimi, and they bond over her interests and are affectionate with one another; but Janine's closeness with Mimi is based on conversing in Japanese and using her knowledge to aid in Mimi's recovery and to frankly discuss Mimi's childhood.
  • Age Lift:
    • In the books, Charlotte Johannsen was eight years old. Her exact age in this series isn't given, but she looks and acts younger than characters who were younger than her in the books (and whose ages don't appear to have been changed), like Karen (six) and David Michael (seven).
    • Ashley Wyeth is a cool middle schooler with Ambiguously Evil intentions around Claudia. In the TV series, she's not only much cooler and more genuine, she's also aged up to a teenager that the girls look up to.
  • Aloof Big Sister: Janine Kishi, as seen from her very first appearance, is a genius yet rather distant from Claudia despite being her older sister, to the point where she often deadpans with Claudia or even suggests to their parents that they can withhold Claudia going to the dance if she doesn't improve her grades. A brief bonding moment between the two girls after Mimi's stroke indicates that Janine doesn't mean to be completely heartless to her little sister.
  • Always Identical Twins: Averted with Adam, Byron, and Jordan Pike in the adaptation. In the books, the three boys are identical triplets and difficult to tell apart if you're not familiar with them, playing this trope straight. In the TV version, they're all played by unrelated actors and are fraternal at best (it's not made clear if they even are triplets — Byron is notably smaller than the other two).
  • Amicably Divorced: Dawn's parents divorced when her father officially came out as gay. Apparently the parents knew for a while but were initially too co-dependent on each other to act on it. It appears they are on decent terms despite the awkward circumstances and Sharon at least doesn't seem to have any animosity towards her ex.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: It's implied Janine gets easily annoyed by her younger sister Claudia, partially due to jealousy over the easy way Claudia makes friends, something Janine has always struggled with.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Morbidda Destiny doesn't appear much in the books and is usually only mentioned when Karen's obsession with her being a witch comes up. In this show, "Morbidda Destiny" (or Aunt Esme, as she's more often called) is related to Dawn and plays a bigger role in the story, even officiating the Thomas-Brewer wedding.
    • While they often aren't the most active characters in the books, parents such as Elizabeth Thomas, Richard Spier, and Sharon Porter get plenty of play in the Netflix series; their personalities are more developed, and the relationships they have with their children are explored with more depth.
    • Trevor Sandbourne is a fairly Flat Character in the books and serves mainly as an occasional Satellite Love Interest for Claudia. In the TV series, he's more developed – he's also an artist and struggles to live up to his dad's expectations, much like Claudia. Their relationship is also given more time to build and is still just a mutual crush at the end of the first season.
  • Asian Airhead: Played with; Claudia, a Japanese-American, is very anti-stereotypically not a good student in several areas, most pointedly math. She's not unintelligent, just no good at it despite her best efforts. Her strengths are in artistic fields such as sculpture and painting, at which she's good enough to draw praise from the art-savvy son of a famous painter.
  • Babysitter Friendship: Many of the babysitters form a bond with their charges.
    • Despite Kristy's initial refusal to meet and bond with the Brewer children, she and Karen hit it off well and are already on good terms prior to becoming stepsisters.
    • Kristy's family is close enough to Jamie Newton's family that his parents entrust him in the care of the Thomases when their daughter is born.
    • Claudia is shown to have a close relationship with Jamie Newton during a voiceover while she talks about the things she is good at and it shows her and Jamie laughing and playing.
    • Stacey is shown to be very close with Byron Pike (who has a Precocious Crush on her until she turns him down gently) and with the family of Charlotte Johannsen.
    • Enforced with Mary Anne and Bailey, as Mary Anne is the only member of the club that the Delvecchios entrust with their trans daughter.
    • By the end of Dawn's episode, Buddy Barrett is shown to be so close to her that he excitedly wanted to tell her of his progress at swimming lessons. This is deconstructed as Buddy's mother is shown to overstep her boundaries with Dawn and take advantage of her kindness.
    • The babysitters start out as caretakers for the Pike kids and get along well with the eldest child Mallory, who is more than happy to give a helping hand with her siblings. This proves to be useful later when they trust her to become a new club member.
    • Mallory and Jessi are shown to be very concerned for the younger Karen's safety and tell her that she can be their friend. Their help in the search and their friendly attitude towards children is what convinces the club to recruit them.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Mary Anne explains that Karen calls Sharon Porter's Aunt Esme "Morbidda Destiny", Sharon laughs at this, setting us up for this being brushed off as Karen being silly... only for Sharon to say that "Aunt Esme wishes that was her witch name."
  • Big Brother Bully: Downplayed. Sam Thomas can be very snarky and annoying to his little sister Kristy, even spelling out all her fears about Elizabeth's engagement to Watson in front of the club.
  • Both Sides Have a Point:
    • Elizabeth is correct that Kristy shouldn't fall into a trap of not worrying about money just because she has a rich stepfather now. However, Kristy is also correct that Watson bought her brother a BMW and Elizabeth didn't react nearly as strongly to that as she did the dress (and while the dress was expensive at $800, Watson almost certainly paid much more to purchase a brand-new BMW, even with a good deal and Charlie contributing his car savings). Notably, Kristy also didn't refuse to wear the yellow dress, she just mildly complained about disliking it and Watson immediately offered to buy her a new dress and told the saleswoman to just bring in a dress she thought would look good on Kristy regardless of price, even saying it wasn't a big deal — was Kristy supposed to have refused his offer just on principle (and if this is what Elizabeth is suggesting, then why should it not also apply to Charlie)?
    • Dawn and Claudia have a point that the camp is filled with things that create inequality based on money – the camp already costs a lot for some families, so adding in so many activities with extra fees creates an unequal system (especially given the way they handle the situation, which basically ends up rubbing it in the face of the kids who simply can't afford it). But Meany is also correct that the camp can't afford to make everything free – camps operate on razor-thin margins and they need to make up for finances. In the end, they reach a compromise by letting the girls volunteer in a more official capacity.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Most of the main characters are socially progressive and come from comfortable middle class (or wealthier) households. Watson stands out as he is a wealthy heir and (per Word of God invoked) an urban planner with a concentration on environmental issues (and he rides his bike to work) and the same goes for Dawn, her mother Sharon, and their Aunt Esme Porter, who are all hippie-ish, New Age believers, vegetarians (or Dawn eats vegan) and they are all socially and politically motivated and progressive.
  • Brainy Brunette: The cast is chock full of dark-haired girls with good brains.
    • The black-haired Claudia plays with the trope. On one hand, she is Book Dumb and prone to failing tests and not recognizing big words. On the other hand, she is a talented artist, very knowledgeable about feminist role models like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, given to quoting Buddhist sayings, and very clever about saving Kristy from the wrath of their strict teacher.
    • The black-haired Janine Kishi, through and through, who is interested in computer science and medical science and fluent in Japanese and is very aware of current events and the history of Internment camps in the United States.
    • Dawn Schafer has brown hair in this adaptation, and she is socially and politically conscious, an intelligent young woman, and the Only Sane Man to her scatterbrained mother. (That last bit is true to the books, as her serious nature helped counter-balance her mom's harmless but funny tendency to go off half-cocked; for instance, when leaving for her first date with Richard, she'd forgotten to remove the price tag from her new dress and was only wearing one earring).
    • Mary Anne has dark brown hair and is a knowledgeable bookworm with advanced emotional maturity.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Many of the clients do not behave very well, to various degrees. It especially applies to the Pike children (minus Mallory), who have parents who don't give them behavioral boundaries, instead letting them "follow their bliss" even if socially annoying. The kids can also be smart-mouthed.
  • Caretaking Is Feminine: All of the babysitters are, of course, girls. In "The Truth About Stacey", they're challenged by the Babysitters' Agency, which has a token boy. However, the Agency is shown to be incompetent and quickly goes out of business.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: When Kristy is giving Dawn babysitting advice in "Dawn and the Impossible Three", she relates a story about a time she whistled loudly to get David Michael's attention and distract him long enough for her to get him to explain why he was upset. Later, Dawn screams to snap Kristy out of her tantrum, citing the lesson.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Episode 2, Mary Anne is forced to exchange her smartphone for her old and extremely outdated mobile phone as punishment for coming home late. At the end of the episode, Kristy starts getting phone calls from an unknown number and thinks it's the Phantom Caller — when she finally picks it up, she finds out it's just Mary Anne calling from her old phone.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Stacey mentions that her then-best friend in New York, Laine, abandoned her when her diabetes came to light. In the camp episodes, Mary Anne befriends a fellow theatre fan from New York and finds out at the auditions that the very girl is Laine herself. Naturally, tensions ensue when she and Stacey are forced to interact with each other.
  • Composite Character: Amanda Delaney this adaptation is given traits of both Shannon and Tiffany Kilbourne. She also has the singular trait of one-time book character Whitney, as her mother pays Kristy to "hang out" with her rather than actually babysit her.
  • Cool Old Lady:
    • Despite her old age, Mimi is carefree and easily bonds with the girls. In particular, she understands her granddaughter Claudia best in the Kishi household and is more than happy to talk about boys or art with her. When she has her stroke, both Elizabeth and Richard show up with food to help Claudia's family out and talk about Mimi being friendly with their families.
    • Aunt Esme, aka Morbidda Destiny, is Dawn's great-aunt who is a spiritual practitioner leading a women's group, an outspoken feminist who validates children (she amusingly refers to Mary Anne's emotional outburst as very Scorpio-like and uses Karen's freak out at the wedding to educate people about the history of witches), and she's apparently well aware of Sharon and Richard's relationship in high school (when you think of how the relationship was regarded by Sharon's parents in the books).
  • Creepy Child: Downplayed. Karen is going through a spooky phase (in Mary Anne's words) when she's introduced. She has an obsession with her neighbour who she thinks is a witch called Morbidda Destiny, is very knowledgeable of scary rumours/stories like the Phantom Caller, and insists on giving her doll a wake.
  • Crusading Lawyer:
    • Mary Anne's mother was a lawyer that always fought for people who couldn't fight for themselves, according to Richard and Mimi in this adaptation (in the books she was a young homemaker, but died of leukemia when Mary Anne was a baby).
    • Season 2 hints Richard is an extremely determined lawyer who's passionate about doing good, as one of his cases involved representing tenants in Stoneybrook Estates to fight eviction, likely being a result of Villainous Gentrification.
  • Culturally Sensitive Adaptation: In the original books, the girls go to a summer camp known as Camp Mohawk. In the live-action series, rather than the potentially exploitative name of "Mohawk," it's renamed to "Camp Moosehead".
  • Daddy Didn't Show: The Season 2 finale has Kristy's dad promise to visit when he's passing through, but then doesn't show up. Mary Anne's enraged on her behalf, since he's done this many times before in the past, and it also inspires Watson (her stepdad) to say he'll adopt her. Kristy is happy with this, thinking she does have a dad in her life after all.
  • Dance Party Ending: At the end of "Kristy's Big Day", after Watson and Elizabeth leave for their honeymoon, all of the babysitters get on the dance floor and rock out to "Boom Clap" by Charli XCX.
  • Darker and Edgier: Downplayed. The series is still light-hearted but some aspects are played up - characters' personal issues are a little more angsty, Stacey's diabetes is treated much more seriously here than in the books (including a cyberbullying campaign of a video showing her experiencing a diabetes-induced grand mal seizure), and Jamie Newton is about five seconds away from being hit by a car when the Baby-Sitters Club find him alone on the street.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the baby-sitters and some of the kids (namely Karen) have their moments, but Mary Anne Spier of all people seems to get the most deadpan snarky lines.
    Lacey's boyfriend: ("rapping" poorly) Kid shouldn't trespass / You're gonna get a hallpass / Or a Disneyland fast-pass / Or you're gonna get a head-slap.
    Mary Anne: (quietly) That doesn't rhyme, sir.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • The kids that the club take care of usually have some sort of focus in the books. In this adaptation, due to the limited time for each episode, many of them serve little purpose other than to be baby-sat and are not as developed as their book counterparts.
    • In the book series, Kristy and David Michael have a very special relationship with their dog, Louie, and the dog is especially protective of David Michael. In this adaptation, however, he's only seen in one scene in the first episode when Kristy takes him for a run – despite numerous scenes set in the Thomas house, we don't see Louie at all for the rest of the season.
    • While possibly not intentional due to the abrupt cancellation, Mallory Pike is the only one of the main club members who doesn't get to narrate an episode of her own.
  • Disappeared Dad: Kristy's father left the family when her youngest brother David Michael was an infant, and she hasn't even seen him in almost a decade. It's implied part of her dislike of Richard Spier's many rules (to be fair, the man is insanely overprotective of Mary Anne) is that his influence over Mary Anne's life is a constant reminder that her own father isn't around.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: After Stacey informs Mrs. Newton that Jamie's sitter from the Baby-Sitters Agency let him play in the streets by himself, the Agency responded by sending a mass email to all the parents in Stoneybrook with a video of Stacey suffering insulin shock and having a seizure.
  • Double Standard: Lamphaded in the pilot where Kristy complains about Mr. Redmont punishing her with an essay on the topic of decorum after she spoke out of turn in class, while the boys get to be disruptive in class and in the bathrooms without much comment.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Janine leans towards Stoicism, while Claudia leans towards Emotions. This becomes a huge source of conflict in Episode 5 of the first season, especially in regards to Mimi's stroke. While Claudia is a main character and the series comes down on the side of emotions, it allows Stoicism to be seen in a good light when Janine's stoicism achieves a sense of calm regarding her grandmother's illness, an acceptance of how hard her recovery will be, and also the willingness to be able to speak Japanese fluently and talk to her about upsetting topics from her past (Japanese internment camps).
  • Everytown, America: The series mostly takes place in a fictional Connecticut town called Stoneybrook, which appears to be a moderately-sized and cozy area with no particular standout traits.
  • Fiery Redhead: There are a few feisty redheads in the series.
    • Kristy Thomas is auburn-haired and she can get very snippy when she feels threatened and nurse a grudge. She gets emotional and her fiery moment was a chip bag-popping rage after being reminded of how everyone she knows has a loving and involved father in their life while her father abandoned her.
    • Richard Spier has light ginger hair and while he isn't one for large emotional displays, he has Tranquil Fury whenever Mary Anne is breaking a rule or when Sharon and the girls attempt to makeover Mary Anne's room - which was decorated by his late wife (a change from the books, where Richard decorated it himself).
    • Zig-zagged with Laine Cummings. On one hand, she had been involved in the humiliation over Stacey's grand mal seizure and her diabetes, revealing a ruthless streak. On the other hand, by the Camp Moosehead episodes she seemed to have mellowed down and Took a Level in Kindness when she meets the more naive, shy, and awkward Mary Anne and befriends her quickly.
  • First Girl Wins: Dawn's mother Sharon grew up in Stoneybrook and was in love with Mary Anne's father Richard, but they split up before college under pressure from her parents, as Richard was from a rather poor family. After Sharon moves back home following her divorce, they rekindle their romance and quickly fall back in love.
  • Five-Token Band: Even more than the original series. Like the books, 1) Dawn and Kristy have divorced parents, 2) Stacey has diabetes, 3) Claudia is Japanese American and 4) Mary Anne has a deceased mother. Additionally, in this adaptation, Dawn and Mary Anne are no longer white (they're Latino and half-black respectively).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There's a small scene where Stacey secretly checks her insulin pump and gets out a juice box while talking to Charlotte and Dr. Johanssen. At the end of the episode, Dr. Johanssen reveals that she noticed Stacey's insulin pump right away and praises her for being able to multitask her diabetic needs and babysitting duties, which helps convince the parents that she's still a worthy babysitter.
    • When the Spiers and Schafers have dinner together, it's shown that Richard and Sharon have different rules about mobile phones at the table (Mary Anne isn't allowed to use hers, while Dawn is). This sets up for a later and more serious conflict in the episode when the two parents have disagreements about how to redo Mary Anne's room.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: The founding members can be classified as a typical four-girl friendship group found in fiction, comprising a sweet, tomboyish, glamorous, and smart member. However, they also have some traits that fall under another label.
    • Kristy is an outgoing and mouthy tomboy member, with a love for sports and a preference for casual attire. She also has leadership skills and great ideas, which are typical traits of a smart member.
    • Mary Anne is the ingenue member. She is sweet and a timid girl, although she learns to become more confident in herself. As someone who's often concerned about everyone's wellbeing, she can also come off as motherly.
    • Claudia is the fashionable boy-crazy member. She's also a passionate artist and is known for her creativity, which shows how much attention she puts into visuals. Claudia being quite different from Kristy and Mary Anne is slightly Played for Drama at first, as Kristy assumes Claudia's interest in clothes and boys is what leads her to drift apart from the other two (although Claudia actually blames Kristy's bossy personality).
    • Stacey is considered the most sophisticated member, the object of admiration because she's from New York, and a math whiz, making her the smart and mature member. She also shares Claudia's interest in fashion and boys.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: It's only when Claudia and Dawn are separated from their friends at camp and thrown into a group together that they realize they've never hung out together, despite the whole club considering each other close friends. The two find it awkward at first since their interests are very different, but going through the camp rebellion together helps them bond.

  • Generation Xerox:
    • Kristy and her mom are both very independent, a little snarky, and very stubborn. Kristy also notes with annoyance that her mom networks like most people breathe – despite the fact that only a few episodes earlier, Kristy was taking every opportunity she had to sell the parents on the club and offer special rates. Many of their conflicts come from the fact that they're too alike.
    • Like her father, Mary Anne is serious and introverted, and when she initially tries to assert herself it comes out a bit awkwardly. The episode "Dawn and The Wicked Stepsister" also shows how both Spiers deal with their anxiety by voicing worst-case scenarios out loud, much to the annoyance of the Schafers. However, Mary Anne also sticks up for people who have less power than her (like her sitting charge), which Mimi tells her mother did all the time. She also looks a lot like her mother, evidenced by the fact that her friends think Alma's baby picture is hers.
    • Janine is very serious and pragmatic, much like her and Claudia's father.
  • Gender Flip: Charlotte Johanssen has a father in the original, but in the adaptation, he's replaced by a woman who teaches art at Stoneybrook Middle School. (Differentiated from her partner and Charlotte's other mother Dr. Johanssen, who is a doctor like in the books.)
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: The Kishi sisters have trouble getting along due to their conflicting natures, and in particular they resent one another for traits they themselves do not have - Claudia resents Janine because she thinks her parents expect her to live up to the borderline-genius Janine's standard, while Janine is secretly jealous of Claudia's outgoing nature and easy way of making friends.
  • Granola Girl: Dawn is passionate about the environment and eating healthy, and has a good awareness of social issues.
  • Hands-Off Parenting:
    • Implied with the Pikes. Dierdre explains to Stacey and Mary Anne that they don't try too hard to police their children's phases, such as Claire's silliness and Vanessa's rhyming, and that they urge them to "follow their bliss" no matter how annoying it is. However, the Pike kids aren't shown to be particularly badly behaved, just as having odd and sometimes annoying little quirks, so it's probably not that they have no rules, but more that with eight children to manage, the parents find it best to pick their battles wisely, and/or that they don't see a need to stifle their kids' self-expression if they're not hurting anyone.
    • Natalie Barrett's kids don't have as many boundaries and do tend to run wild. However it's less because Natalie makes a conscious choice to let them live a free-range life and more because she's too preoccupied with her divorce and acting auditions to notice or help her kids, and offloads it to Dawn without a second thought.
  • Happily Married: Elizabeth and Watson happily become engaged in Episode 1 and have their wedding in Episode 8. Although Kristy initially resents the marriage, she becomes more supportive over time because she often sees how cheery her mother is when she's with Watson, and herself comes to see Watson as a father figure.
  • Helicopter Parents: As Mary Anne says, her father Richard Spier doesn't even like her leaving the house because he's worried something will happen to her (such as her being murdered). While he does still struggle to completely shake off his habits, to his credit he begins to loosen up in time after Mary Anne finds the confidence to tell him she'd like to change a few things about herself.
  • Hereditary Homosexuality: Dawn's father is gay, and she's later revealed as open to dating people regardless of their gender, indicating pansexuality.
  • Hot-Blooded: Of the girls, Kristy is the most excitable and quick to anger.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • One of the tips Mary Anne gives Kristy when the latter's babysitting Karen and Andrew is that she's free to have one of the frozen Snickers bars hidden in the second freezer - which the kids aren't supposed to know about. After the phone call ends, Kristy immediately asks Karen if she'd like to have a frozen Snickers bar, and Karen's reply suggests that she already knew about them.
    • At the wedding, Stacey laments how much she misses Toby (the boy she kissed in Sea City). When Sam asks her to dance with him, she immediately agrees and puts up a weak defense when questioned about it.
  • Iconic Item: The show jumps through a few hoops to have the club still use their iconic transparent phone despite the Setting Update, with them using it as a deliberate appeal to nostalgic parents.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Much like the original books, each episode features one of the girls' names, relating to whoever is the central focus of the episode. The only exception is the Season 1 finale "Hello, Camp Moosehead!" — which is derived from one of the multi-narrator "Super Specials".
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Most of the parent clients are reasonable, but almost all of them grab hold of the idiot ball in "The Truth About Stacey." First, they dump the Baby-sitters Club, even though they have a history with the club and know that the girls are reliable and good with kids despite their young age, in favor of older teenagers who obviously aren't experienced with childcare or remotely professional—all on the simple assumption that older babysitters are automatically better. This results in Jamie Newton being put in very real danger by a negligent baby sitter. Then (while they're understandably shocked by the video of Stacey's seizure) after Stacey reveals that she is diabetic the parents, all of whom know Stacey and the girls and have seen her properly care for kids, reveal that they know very little about diabetes. They're concerned about Stacey having another seizure (despite her being clear that this was before her diagnosis and her insulin pump and treatment) and about kids coming into contact with any "medical equipment" she might have. Keep in mind, the parents already know that the Agency let a four-year-old play by himself in the street and just learned that the Agency intentionally sent around a video of a preteen girl having a seizure to discredit her. It's only once Dr. Johanssen points out how well Stacey manages her condition that they lay off; and once Kristy points out a second time that the Agency cyberbullied a twelve-year-old, the other parents suddenly remember how much their kids love the club and how professional they are for their young age.
    • The girls' parents are unusually unreasonable in "Mary Anne Saves the Day". First, Richard jumps to the conclusion that Kristy, Claudia, and Stacey were bullying Mary Anne and calls their parents, all of whom just accept his interpretation of events and ground their daughters, apparently without getting their side of it or probing too deeply into what this "bullying" entailed (it was just an argument).
  • In Name Only: Most of the episodes are adapted from the books, but sometimes the content is so different that the episodes barely resemble their book counterparts.
    • In "Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls", the only plot from the book in the episode is that there's a dance, that Claudia has a crush on Trevor, and that there's a phantom caller burglar hitting homes in the area (in both the books and the series, that last only serves to make it scary when someone gets unexpected calls).
    • The main plot (where the girls look after the Thomas-Brewer relatives' children) of "Kristy's Big Day" in the original series is adapted out in order to focus solely on the wedding, allowing another look at Kristy's conflicted feelings about her new family.
    • The last two episodes "Welcome to Camp Moosehead (Parts 1 and 2)" share very little in common with the book they drew inspiration from. The only remaining plot from the source material is the camp, the uniforms, and Stacey's poison ivy.
    • The only episodes in Season 2 that are even close to their book counterpart are "Kristy and the Snobs" (and even then the titular snobs, the Kilbournes, are replaced with Amanda Delaney), "Stacey's Emergency" and "Claudia and the Sad Good-Bye". The others otherwise diverge greatly:
      • "Claudia and the New Girl" does include the character of Ashley Wyeth, although she's completely different from the books. In fact, in this version, she's not even the "new girl" in question – the episode is all about Claudia dealing with the new member Mallory's overeager, slightly childish ways.
      • "Jessi and the Superbrat" does feature Jessi taking care of a hometown celebrity, Derek Masters (although, updated for modern times, he's a TikTok star), but he's not nearly as bratty as his book counterpart. In fact, Derek is one of the nicest kids the Baby-sitters Club takes care of – he just had a character called the "Superbrat" when he was a toddler. In fact, the "brat" in question is more Jessi (at least from her mom's point of view) because she wants to give up on dance when she doesn't get the part she wants.
      • "Mary-Anne and the Great Romance" isn't about the marriage of Sharon and Richard (who are yet to marry at this point in this adaptation), but about her and Logan and their pressure to act "couple-y."
      • "Dawn's Wicked Stepsister" is about the Spiers moving in, but they're only moving in on a short-term basis to deal with a pest extermination, and it's less about the Spiers being too type-A and neat (Dawn is the neat freak in this version) but about Mary-Anne driving a wedge between Dawn and her mother.
      • "Kristy and the Baby Parade" does feature the titular baby parade, but is more about her relationship with her biological father.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • There's no malicious intent when the other girls nag Mary Anne to be more assertive in Episode 4, but the way they do it still comes off as rather inconsiderate since they should know how sensitive she is at this point. Sure enough, Mary Anne is driven to tears and runs off. It goes From Bad to Worse when her father misunderstands the situation to be bullying-related and tells the other girls' parents his interpretation of events, leading to them getting grounded and understandably angry at Mary Anne.
    • The nurse and doctor who treat Bailey Delvecchio refer to her as a boy based on her chart and medical file. This clearly upsets Bailey, so Mary Anne takes the two aside to gently but firmly call them out on what they're doing and makes them understand Bailey is a girl and needs to be acknowledged as such regardless of her chart. The doctor and nurse are quietly chastised and apologize for their unintentional rudeness.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Before Stacey was diagnosed with diabetes, her symptoms worried her and her parents so much that her mother thought she had an eating disorder (due to losing a problematic amount of weight and having no energy) and sending her to a million specialists. It culminates in her having a grand mal seizure in public. She's then the victim of having a video of her seizure uploaded on the internet when her "friends" circulate the video.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Mimi and Mary Anne's late mother Alma had a close friendship despite being a generation apart, often hanging out together and taking aqua exercise classes. Mimi would later develop this relationship with the middle-school aged Mary Anne herself, almost acting as a mother figure. This is also a beautiful example of an interracial friendship, as Mimi is East Asian (Japanese) while Alma was African-American and Mary Anne is mixed race.
  • Jerkass Ball:
    • Kristy is usually a good kid, but will switch from serious to spiteful whenever Watson is involved, creating drama about her feelings towards him and her changing family. It gets so bad that she alienates her friends over it.
    • The rest of the club are unusually impatient with Mary Anne's passivity and shyness in "Mary Anne Saves the Day" despite being well aware of her personality at this point, and aren't very sympathetic about Mrs. Delvechio only wanting Mary Anne to babysit for her (even if her daughter wasn't trans, it's reasonable for a parent to want a sitter they vetted). The girls, Stacey in particular, apologize for not being understanding.
    • Richard keeps his temper even when he's being a strict parent or shows annoyance to other people. The one exception is when he lashes out at Mary Anne and Sharon for redecorating her room, temporarily damaging his relationships with both parties. It really comes from grief that he's unable to express properly, but it comes out as very cruel.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Kristy and The Snobs", Dawn comments that she feels like a different person after returning from California, referencing the fact that she was recast between seasons due to Xochitl Gomez accepting a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Mama Bear: A few mothers are very defensive of their children and will go the extra mile to criticize someone hurting them or ensure that their children are treated with respect.
    • Dawn's mother Sharon is scatterbrained, but she takes umbrage when Ms. Barrett's criminal lack of organization and messy divorce interfere with Dawn's boundaries and her ability to be a child (even making her stay out later than her set hours), picking up Dawn's phone when she calls after she neglected to tell Dawn about her ex-husband taking their son to his swimming lessons (making Dawn terrified that she lost the boy), telling her off that she needs to get her life in order and leave Dawn out of her mess.
    • According to Mimi, Mary Anne's deceased mother Alma Spier once chased off a bunch of high schoolers giving the two ladies a hard time, and while she was pregnant no less.
    • Implied with Ms. Delvecchio, Bailey's mother. She is very insistent that no one but Mary Anne, the daughter of her work colleague, babysits her transgender daughter.
  • Missing Mom: Mary Anne's mother died when she was eighteen months old, and the lack of maternal influence is often felt by not just Mary Anne but her father too.
  • Ms. Imagination: Watson's daughter Karen believes her next-door neighbor is a witch named Morbidda Destiny, and introduces herself to Kristy by demanding cookies be provided at the wake she's holding for one of her dolls.
  • My Beloved Smother: Stacey's mother is constantly on her daughter's back thanks to her diabetes and panics whenever Stacey looks even a tad unwell. She shouts at her repeatedly over her fears that Stacey is being irresponsible about her diabetes, and initially goes through great lengths to hide the insulin pump out of concern that her daughter may get judged and bullied again.
  • Mythology Gag: "Kristy and the Baby Parade" ends with "Say Hello To Your Friends", the theme song from the 90s TV series, playing over the credits.
  • No Antagonist: While there are a few conflicts with wrongheaded individuals, there's no overarching antagonist for the series. The closest the series gets to having any serious threats are the Baby-Sitters Agency (who prank the club and cyber-bully Stacey) and the Camp Moose staff (who aren't sympathetic to the girls' concerns and punish them for just trying to create inclusive experiences), but they are limited to one/two-episode arcs, and many of the episodes have no real antagonist.
  • No Periods, Period:
    • Averted as Kristy's comes during the wedding, causing her to rush off into the bathroom. All her friends had theirs already, it turns out, with Mary Anne handing over a pad and telling her how to use it. The aversion is noteworthy in large part because the book series the show is based on is a straight example (see entry under Literature).
    • Also averted in an earlier episode when Kristy asks Claudia what her abstract sculpture is about and Claudia casually replies "Menstruation".
  • Obnoxious Entitled Housewife: The baby-sitters run into these types as clients on rare occasions.
    • The mother in the parent group gathered after Stacey's video was leaked. She is rather stone-faced and unsympathetic, saying that Stacey's diabetes might affect her babysitting the children which gets the other parents worried until Dr. Johannsenn and Kristy point out that Stacey is responsible for the kids she watches and her health and that the older Baby-Sitters Agency left a four-year-old unsupervised.
    • Natalie Barrett is a perky variation of the trope, as she feels entitled to Dawn's time (even off the clock) and runs the younger girl ragged to watch her children, pick up her house, vent to her about her divorce, and help her run her lines for auditions.
  • Oh, Crap!: Elizabeth is understandably shocked and embarrassed when Richard lets her know that he is aware of the things she has been saying about him, such as her finding it weird someone as "lovely and free" as Sharon would date him, and makes it clear that he knows Elizabeth is putting on an act.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Mimi. Her real name (Makiko) is only said once during the series by an emergency room doctor who doesn't know her.
    • Kristy, Stacey, and Jessi's full first names are Kristin, Anastasia, and Jessica. Like in the books, they are rarely used on-screen and typically only when the speaker is being formal or angry.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Bailey's mother is supportive of her daughter's transition and goes out of her way to accommodate her princess interests as well get her a trustworthy babysitter.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Sharon's parents disapproved of her relationship with Richard because his family was far less well to do than theirs, and pressured her to break up with him before they went off to (separate) colleges. When they renew their relationship some twenty years later, Richard has become a lawyer with a successful private practice, which would presumably make them view him much more favorably (though being an adult now, Sharon probably no longer cares if her parents approve).
  • Parents as People: A big theme of this series. The parents of the baby-sitters and charges are good parents but sometimes they do get overprotective (Richard and Stacey's mother), pass down shame to their children (Stacey's mother), don't understand their children (Claudia's parents and Trevor's father), express their misplaced frustration with them (Elizabeth Thomas), can be scatterbrained (Sharon), or react irrationally to things that concern their children (all the parents who got the idea that Stacey's diabetes would endanger their kids). And sometimes the show will remind the viewers just how vulnerable these parents feel raising young girls (like Richard regarding raising Mary Anne and how he fears he will screw her up because he is a single father raising a young girl). This is also deconstructed with the Barretts, who had an acrimonious divorce, where Natalie is shown to be dismissive of her children's pleas for attention and passes the responsibility automatically to Dawn and neglects to tell Dawn that Buddy is picked up for swim lessons by his father (his father admitting to some fault that their arrangement was so he could avoid talking to his ex-wife). The other parents are lampshaded and invoked by Dawn:
    Dawn: Parents are just older weirdos doing the best they can, just like the rest of us.
  • Parent with New Paramour:
    • Kristy's mother becomes engaged to her boyfriend Watson in the first episode and marries him later in the series. Kristy really does not like Watson at first and doesn't bother hiding it, but slowly warms up to him and his kids and genuinely supports her mom's happiness.
    • Mary Anne's widowed father reunites with his high school sweetheart, AKA Dawn's divorced mother, and they start dating soon afterward. The girls actually find this adorable and are already daydreaming about the couple getting married. Things take an awkward turn when the couple clash over their parenting styles and stop seeing each other, but they patch things up when Richard sends Sharon a pet turtle (as a reference to her old nickname for him) as an apology.
    • Dawn's father has a partner named Gus, who appears briefly in a video call in one episode.
  • Pink Is Feminine:
    • Defied with the feminine and timid Mary Anne, who chafes at her "baby" clothes and room, which is decorated in pink and floral wallpaper. With her father's approval, the room gets re-decorated with purple paint and Broadway posters.
    • Bailey, in contrast to her old boyish clothes, prefers very feminine, sparkly, floaty, pink clothing.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Leads to the main conflict in "Mary Anne Saves the Day". Mary Anne tries to tell her father about her general insecurities regarding her Extreme Doormat tendencies that were highlighted by an incident at a Baby-sitters Club meeting, but he mistakenly thinks she's saying that the other girls were picking on her and calls their parents, causing them to get into trouble.
    • In a heart-to-heart talk between Mary Anne and her father after they deal with Bailey's hospital episode, it comes out that some of Mary Anne's issues with her father were misunderstandings on her part. For example, in contrast to the original novels, Richard never actually told or expected Mary Anne to always wear her hair in braids, but she believed that that was how he wanted her hair to be because it was the way he always used to do it. When she finally asks about it, he explains that the reason he always did her hair in braids was simply because he didn't know how to do it any other way; he never expected or realized that she would take it as a mandate.
  • Pottery Barn Poor: Downplayed. Kristy and Sam make references to their family being in dire financial straits where Elizabeth had to fight with the water and power company the year before and the possibility of college debt and their mother working very hard at her job. What becomes questionable is that Elizabeth is a real estate agent, which typically makes decent money (although her being the sole provider for her four children and the fluctuating economy can affect that). They also live in a neighborhood that is middle to upper-middle class with professionals (the Kishis are an investment partner and a librarian, Mary Anne's father is a lawyer, Charlotte's mothers are a doctor and schoolteacher); although it's smaller, the Thomases' home looks to be of similar quality to Kishi and Spier home.
  • Potty Failure: In Episode 1, Kristy comes home to find her brother David Michael there earlier than expected. Unfortunately for him, he couldn't hold in his bathroom urges while waiting for her outside and wet his pants. Kristy, showing off her natural baby-sitting skills and Big Sister Instinct, cheers him up and promises that she won't tell their older brothers.

  • Race Lift: A good chunk of the cast in the books are white or assumed to be white if not stated otherwise, but the adaptation makes it more diverse:
    • Mary Anne is white in the book series and in fact so pale she can't tan; in this adaptation, Mary Anne is half-black since her mother was African-American.
    • While Dawn is a long-blonde-haired white girl in the book series, she and her family are Latino in the adaptation.
    • Charlotte (a brown haired white girl in the book series) is now East Asian, while one of her mothers, Dr. Johanssen, is South Asian. (This seems to be a nod to Raina Telgemeier's graphic novel adaptations, where Charlotte and Dr. Johanssen are Asian.)
    • Trevor Sandbourne is depicted as white in the book art; in the adaptation he's played by Egyptian-American Bodhi Sabongui.
    • The Marshall family are also depicted as white in book art; while we don't see the two girls, their father is played by an actor of Sri Lankan descent.
    • Ashley Wyeth (who is also given an Age Lift) is a white girl in the books, but is Black in the TV series.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Downplayed with Claudia's parents, who don't understand her too well and come off as strict but have her best interests at heart. They support her talent and hobbies to some degree, evident by Claudia getting to take college-level life drawing courses, but are firm about her school grades and take up Janine's suggestion to ground her from the school dance if she fails her next test. When Claudia reveals she lied about passing her test and confesses about her insecurities to them, they genuinely hear her out and offer words of encouragement, but nevertheless uphold their promise to ground her (although that's probably at least partially for lying, rather than solely about the original issue of grades).
  • Record Needle Scratch: Epic guitar riffs play in the background when Stacey has her Love at First Sight meeting with Sam, who looks cooler than he actually is thanks to the bass guitar he's carrying. A record needle scratch sound interrupts the background music when Sam starts bugging Kristy, reminding the audience that he's still your stereotypical annoying older brother.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: Since the books were first written in the late '80s, multiple details have been changed in the adaptation to avoid looking outdated while still being faithful.
    • In the book series, Stacey initially keeps her diabetes a secret and has to give herself injections at home, so keeping it secret mainly meant having to find excuses for her energy levels and not wanting to eat sweets. This was before personal insulin monitors and pumps were commonplace. Now taking place in the early 2020s, Stacey wears an insulin pump, so part of her struggle is having to literally hide her illness, which she does by layering clothing strategically. Eventually, she learns to embrace it and wears her pump openly, even bedazzling it.
    • The way the girls advertise and run the club in the book series is rather old-fashioned compared to modern times. While the adaptation updates some of it with modern technology (such as replacing the club logbook with Google Docs and the use of a digitalized calendar), other essential elements are kept intact and justified with reasons different from the books:
      • Claudia having her own phone line was a big deal in the books since mobile phones were not yet a thing, and was the key to the club's success. In the adaptation, although everyone has the internet and their own phones, the Kishi family still have a complimentary landline as part of Janine's super high-speed internet package, so the club decide to make use of it so that their personal numbers aren't inconvenienced (for example, not having to answer unknown callers) and to have a specific phone line designated for club business.
      • Word-of-mouth and flyers were the club's only means of advertising in the books. In the updated setting, the club initially explores the idea of social media advertising and digital marketing, but scrap it since they don't all use social media (Kristy doesn't like it and Mary Anne/her father doesn't think she's old enough); in the end, the girls decide they would rather use word-of-mouth to separate themselves from the apps and social networks for childcare that gave Kristy's mom issues with sitters in the first place.
  • Related in the Adaptation: In this show, Morbidda Destiny also happens to be an aunt of Dawn's. This is a possible nod to the popular fan theories of the two being related in the books, where Morbidda Destiny and Sharon's family both share the same surname Porter (something that is never commented on in-series).
  • Retro Universe: The show takes place in modern times, but it’s also chock-a-bloc with '90s fashions, phones, and references.
  • Setting Update: The book series takes place in the 1980s to early 2000s. The Netflix adaptation takes place in 2020 and so includes a lot of modern updates, such as the girls owning mobile phones and the frequent use of the internet.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Kristy accidentally refers to the Phantom Caller as the "Phantom Tollbooth".
    • Elizabeth snarks at Kristy's dislike towards her engagement with Watson that she will change her name to "Ofwatson".
    • When the girls list people they know who have diabetes, Mary Anne brings up Halle Berry.
    • Before giving Mary Anne's room a makeover, Claudia and Stacey ask Richard if he knows Queer Eye. Judging by the way he quickly backtracks his answer, he does watch the show (or is at least somewhat familiar with it) but refuses to admit it.
      Richard: Of cour— no. [anxiously looks towards the door] They're not here, are they?
    • Mary Anne and Dawn call their plan to get their parents back together "Project Parent Trap".
    • Upset by how her yellow dress makes her look like a banana, Kristy retorts that the only one who'd think she looks good is Curious George, and only right before he tries to eat her.
    • When Claudia gets remanded back to her cabin for running a free art class, Dawn and the other campers do the Mockingjay salute at her while the film's four-note tune plays.
    • "Hello, Camp Moosehead!" Parts 1 and 2 have a ton of shoutouts to Les Misérables, including a scene where the campers build a barricade and stand atop it waving flags. Plus the musical Mary Anne is producing is full of songs that sound similar to the ones from the musical, and Logan directly quotes the opening text from the film adaptation during the performance.
      Logan: 1815. Twenty-six years after the start of the French Revolution, a king is once again on the throne of France.
  • Shrinking Violet: Mary Anne is shy and timid to the point of emotional outbursts and nearly gets sick when she has to speak in front of people, and she doesn't even consider asking her father if she could go to the Halloween dance. (To be fair, he almost certainly would have said no, but she didn't even try.) To her credit, unlike the books where her personality remains static, she's beginning to combat this throughout the series. It's implied she inherited this trait from her father Richard, who was once called "Turtle" by Sharon when they were younger.
  • The Sixth Ranger: The initial four-member lineup of the Baby-Sitters Club gets new members on two occasions.
    • In Episode 5, Mary Anne encourages Dawn to join the club and reassures her that she will be welcomed by everyone. Although Kristy coldly resisting the idea and reluctantly giving her a trial run shows otherwise, Dawn proves herself as a baby-sitter and becomes closer to Kristy, and she's made an official member at the end of the episode.
    • At the end of Episode 10, Mallory and Jessi are invited to join the club as junior officers because Kristy was impressed by their help when looking for Karen.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Different episodes are narrated by whichever girl is the focus of the story (as indicated by the episode title and handwriting font used).
  • Take That!: Laine snarks that if the hermit from the legend cursed the theater because the people were rehearsing Cats it would be understandable.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Kristy has a sudden breakdown after seeing how everyone else's dads care for their children (unlike her own dad, who left her and her family) and smacks open a few bags of chips all over the counter.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Many of the high school-aged characters are antagonistic in their roles.
    • Older siblings Sam and Janine at the least serve as annoyances to their younger sisters; at worst, they make issues worse for their sisters (Sam not being very helpful or aware of Kristy and her club, Janine suggesting to her parents they withhold attendance at the school dance to encourage Claudia to get her grades up).
    • The Baby-Sitters Agency steal the business idea from the club, are straight up insulting to the club members, play pranks on them where there are phony job assignments, have a member who is willing to send a young child unsupervised where there is traffic so she can spend time with her boyfriend during working hours, and cyber-bully a 13-year-old girl by using her disability as evidence that she is "unfit" to care for children.
    • Lifeguard Scott's girlfriend shows antagonism towards Stacey and belittles her in front of Scott.
    • Some of the counselors at Camp Moosehead are negligent of the campers, to the point where Karen (a seven-year-old girl) sneaks off the campgrounds and no one but Kristy notices. Even worse is the college-aged art instructor who tells a child to her face that she cannot take part in tie-dye lessons because she doesn't have commissary money, then gets angry when Dawn and Claudia start their free art lessons.
  • Two First Names:
    • Karen lampshades the weirdness of her "husband"-to-be David Michael Thomas having three first names when they're acting out their pretend-wedding.
    • Kristy's full name is Kristin Amanda Thomas, although she's only ever referred to that way when she's in trouble or someone's trying to get her attention.
  • Unusual Euphemism: When Stacey and her mother run into a pregnant Mrs. Newton in a boutique dressing room, the latter is holding two armfuls of large bras and comments, "Let's see if these could hold my multitudes."
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Karen Brewer unintentionally brings doom not once, but twice.
    • When washing the car with Kristy and Andrew, she tells Kristy where to get the sponges... and then fibs to Kristy that Watson has a hidden secret behind the garage door. Kristy is immediately tempted by Karen's tale, but the door locks behind her. She's unable to stop Karen and Andrew from then "cleaning" the car with steel wool.
    • On the day of the wedding, she innocently informs Elizabeth that Kristy's new bridesmaid dress – which Watson purchased impulsively after Kristy expressed disgust with the first one – cost $800. Elizabeth is horrified by this (both the price and the fact that Kristy didn't seem to think that spending this amount of money is a big deal). It spirals into a full-on argument that sends Kristy into tears right before the wedding.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Richard Spier (uptight) and his old-new girlfriend Sharon Porter (wild). Lampshaded by Elizabeth when she learns of it, saying that Sharon is free-spirited and lovely, and Richard is the type to tuck his shirt in very tight.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Mary Anne, Claudia, and Elizabeth will call Kristy by her full name (Kristin Amanda Thomas) when she gets truly out of line.
  • You Don't Look Like You: The original Logan Bruno was a confident blond multi-sport jock and New Transfer Student from Kentucky who was said to be as good-looking as a movie star. In this adaptation, the only book traits that have been shown are that 1) he's still a Nice Guy who's good with kids, 2) has feelings for Mary Anne, and 3) he was born in Louisville and has family there, though barring unusual circumstances he's either Not Even Bothering with the Accent or never lived there long enough to have one.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Baby-Sitters Club 2020


Claudia and Mean Janine

Fun-loving, outgoing, and artistic Claudia is the Pretty sister to Janine's ruder, more plainly-styled, genius-level Smart sister.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheGloriousWarOfSisterlyRivalry

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