Netflix’s Baby-Sitters Club season 2 gives the cast an unusual twist

Media of all ages tend to avoid portraying meaningful parenting figures. In some cases, they are completely absent from the story. In others, such as the school accounts of Zoey 101 Where Ned is declassified, where the only adults present are teachers – they are only used as obstructions. Or sometimes they are clumsy and incompetent, like iCarly‘s Spencer, the older brother and guardian who accidentally and repeatedly lights objects on fire. Kid-friendly shows typically focus on the younger characters, giving them the freedom to do things regular kids can’t, which not only focuses on the intended audience, but gives them the escape. and empowerment. Not all shows fall into this trap. But even when child-centered media portray adults as good and supportive, they are typically designed to help young audiences learn valuable life lessons.

But in season 2 of the Netflix series The babysitters club, not only are parents present and involved in their children’s lives, but they also have their own fascinating stories and struggles. It is a refreshing recognition that while parents can worry about their children, children are also concerned about their parents. But as the show’s parents go through their own struggles, which worry their kids, they never burden their kids with specifics or put emotional labor on them. It’s a good balance, giving adults complexity without making their problems completely the children’s problem, but the show manages to do it.

I’m no longer the target audience for shows like The babysitters club – I am in my twenties and I have no children who would watch the show. But I can’t help but be totally invested in the parent characters of the series. The Netflix adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s bestsellers follows a group of college kids who start their own businesses around childcare. The babysitters club does a fantastic job describing the ups and downs of being a preteen, adapting the plot points from the books to reflect that era. (For example, the star of the children’s sitcom that ballerina Jessi keeps in the books is a TikTok celebrity on the show.)

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for The Baby-Sitters Club season 2.]

Photo credit: Kailey Schwerman / Netflix

Tomboy club president Kristy, for example, worries when she learns that her mom Liz (Alicia Silverstone) and stepdad Watson (Mark Feuerstein) are trying to have a baby – not because she does not want a new brother, but because she is afraid that they do not want to tell him because of his initially distant attitude towards his in-laws.

Turns out, Liz worries about not raising Kristy’s expectations too high, as she knows having a baby in her stage of life isn’t easy. The next few episodes see Liz struggling with fertility treatments, although Kristy doesn’t know the details. She mentions her mother’s craving chocolate, which older viewers may be able to identify with the stress of hormone treatments and the general anxiety of trying to conceive. But the show doesn’t go into explicit details – and rightly so, given the target audience.

Kristy eventually finds her mother sobbing in the bathroom, hiding the pressure she feels when trying to conceive and the emotions caused by a hurricane of hormones. Kristy offers to listen to her mom if she wants to talk, but Liz says that while she knows Kristy will listen, it’s not a child’s burden to carry. Liz is clear that she should talk to her husband about what she is going through instead. If this chat takes place, it stays offscreen, but that’s a good thing. For Liz, understanding that her preteen daughter shouldn’t be her emotional support is an act of emotional maturity. Kristy, who used to bristle at the idea of ​​her stepfamily, is now open and encouraging about the idea, but more importantly, Liz recognizes that her issues are something she needs to discuss with another adult. .

liz hugging kristy

Photo credit: Kailey Schwerman / Netflix

The babysitters club stands out for the way it gives parents irresistible struggles and inner lives, while too again by making damn good parents. We know that manager Mary Anne has a father (Marc Evan Jackson) who is struggling with anxiety – last season saw him agree to let Mary Anne grow up and move on from the loss of his wife. In Season 2, he went to therapy and tried to implement these lessons in real life.

When he talks to Mary Anne about his first date, he is prepared with note cards with pre-written lines of support and encouragement to make the experience less intimidating for him. But most touching, he does his best to bond with Mary Anne’s friend – and his girlfriend’s daughter – Dawn, who takes the opposite approach when it comes to dealing with big emotions and insists that all is well when people encroach on her personal boundaries. As Dawn initially pushes her connection attempts away, he comes to her with an adult coloring book and explains how expressing her fears helps neutralize them, and she realizes he’s right.

The babysitters club was designed for kids, but it has the kind of depth and nuance that have made other shows for all ages like Steven Universe and Adventure time also attracting adults. The babysitters club is a realistic live-action show instead of an animated fantasy like these other series, but that’s what makes it particularly compelling. Stories are always seen through the eyes of children, but when adults feel less like series characters and more like real three-dimensional human beings, the reality of the series becomes more vibrant and she is able to handle situations. more complicated stories while still having age. -appropriate.

Not only does this make the show more appealing to an older audience, but it humanizes the adult characters for the actual target audience – these adults don’t obstruct authority figures, goofy gags, or props put in place to dispense life advice. They experience complicated stories just as much as their children, which teaches young audiences that parents are also struggling people with great feelings.

Season 2 of The babysitters club is available on Netflix.

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