Because time is a flat circle—or because those who grew up loving these books are now entertainment industry decision-makers—Netflix has just announced that it has started production on a live-action series of the beloved tween book series, The Baby-Sitters Club. And not only that, Alicia Silverstone is playing the mother of the club's mastermind, Kristy Thomas.
The Baby-Sitters Club was a publishing juggernaut, selling 180 million copies of books about babysitters in the suburbs. After noticing the unexpected success of a book about a babysitter, Jean Feiwel, an editor at Scholastic at the time, asked Ann M. Martin to write a series about middle-school girls who go into business as babysitters—sure, it was Kristy's Great Idea (book #1), but Claudia Kishi had her own private phone line (and Phantom Caller, book #2) so they, plus their neighbor Mary Ann Spier, Native New Yorker Stacey McGill, and, later, California transplant Dawn Schafer, would meet regularly and plan their monopoly on child-minding in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. It was also way tamer than Sweet Valley High, but just as addictive as the characters felt fully-formed and became friends to readers.
The first book was published in 1986, and the rest is history. The series ended publication of new novels in 1999, with a total of 131 books (not including the spin-offs or super editions)!! The series was inspiring and comforting: As Emily Gould wrote, "The BSC books were my favorite, and not just because they were distracting and fun (though they were). They gave me a cool, latently feminist model for combining friendship with entrepreneurship that got me started down a path I’m still following today."
Or, as The New Yorker pointed out, "For many of us, the Baby-Sitters Club offered an early glimpse into the world of ambitious working women. Granted, they were middle-schoolers, but they were girl bosses, role models long before pop culture gave us Olivia Pope, Liz Lemon, or Leslie Knope."
Oddly, the Netflix press release notes, "Silverstone will play Elizabeth Thomas-Brewer, the mother of Kristy Thomas and love interest of Watson Brewer, played by [Mark] Feuerstein." Which is basically a spoiler for anyone who hasn't read book #6 (Kristy's Big Day) where Elizabeth and Watson get M-A-R-R-I-E-D. Then again, you could have been reading N.R. Kleinfield's dispatch about the series in a 1989 NY Times article:
Each novel details the escapades of one of the members, often a taxing babysitting assignment. There was the time, for instance, that Jessi baby-sat for a deaf boy and hastily had to learn some sign language. In another book, Kristy's mother remarried and the new family moved into a neighborhood where the kids mocked the Baby-Sitters Club and, worst of all, teased Louie, Kristy's aged pet collie. On yet another occasion, Jessi baby-sat for a week in a house overrun with animals and got terribly agitated when the hamster ceased walking around. She took it to the veterinarian. He was able to figure out it was pregnant.
But how is Alicia old enough to play Kristy’s mom?! 😭 life happens so fast
— Jenny Han (@jennyhan) August 6, 2019
Earlier this year, Audible announced it was bringing the entire series to audio, with an all-star cast—Elle Fanning reading the first five books, and then the others read by Brittany Pressley, Ali Ahn, Emily Bauer, Lauren Fortgang, Bahni Turpin, Erin Moon, Stephany Einstein, and Vanessa Johansson. That's on top of the charming graphic novel versions of the first books.
The rest of the cast hasn't been announced, but the team behind the Netflix series includes writer-producer Rachel Shukert (GLOW) and director Lucia Aniello (Broad City). Author Ann M. Martin is also a producer.
Fun fact: When the books were first released, they costs $2.50. I remember that distinctly because I had $2.50 to pay for a book, but then I learned about sales tax at B. Dalton.