When you’re done Ted Lasso and looking for a new show to wrap you in a warm hug, may we season 2 of The Babysitters Club?
The new episodes, which hit Netflix this week, follow a group of high school friends who man the titular business. Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne, Dawn, Jessi and Mallory are smart. They are sweet. They are funny. They are smart. They are serious. Basically, they’re the kind of kids you’d want to watch your kids – and who would give you a thrill, talking to in the car while driving them home afterwards. (Read our premiere recap and final recap.)
And when TVLine raises the idea that the Babysitter Club girls are the antithesis of the grumpy, catty teenagers TV likes to portray (see: The white lotus, Euphoria), BSC creator Rachel Shukert pauses for a minute before responding.
“I mean, it’s hard, you know?” she says. “I feel oddly more like I was when I was that age than I was when I was an older teenager.” The time in the life of one girl the series describes, she continues, is “before someone has shown you this other you’re supposed to be, this other you’re supposed to be influencing, where you really feel this pressure to do all these things that you may not be emotionally ready for.”
Which doesn’t mean that The Babysitters Club isn’t about the big things: death, blended families, illness, and the pressures of parental expectations are all featured in the eight new half-hour episodes.
But the executive producer adds that Ann M. Martin’s books (on which the Netflix series is based) were a strong template, so the show’s creative team had a strong foundation to tackle whatever came up. “We really went into the show feeling like we knew these girls. We didn’t have to spend months trying to figure out what drove them,” she recalls. “They’re so beautifully drawn. You know how Kristy will react to something. You know just what Dawn is going to say.’
Read on for more of Shukert’s thoughts on the new season, starting with how long she expects the Babysitter Club to convene.
A RACE AGAINST TIME | Between seasons, some members of the show’s young cast had growth spurts, which Shukert jokes is “something we just always had to leave in the hands of a higher power.” She takes an equally laid-back approach to what those inevitable changes mean for the longevity of the series. “It kind of timestamps the show because I don’t know if we’re going to follow them to college or something like that,” she says. “These books, to me I was such a giant Babysitter Club fan like a kid, and they are the most important thing in your life for two or three years, and then you age and another generation finds them. So there’s a very specific, jewel-like quality to these books and to this show that exists in this limited time period, and that’s something we can all agree on.”
PROBLEMS IN SIGHT? | Towards the end of Season 2, we got clues that Stacey’s parents’ marriage could be in trouble — a topic Shukert says a potential Season 3 would likely explore. “There are kids of divorce and kids of single parents on the show, of course, but we didn’t show what that really feels like, to go through it in real time,” she explains. She adds that while the show hasn’t tackled COVID head-on, “we’ll try to deal with things like this, obliquely, that people are going through. Things like loss and disappointment. I have a feeling that there have been a lot of kids this year who have seen a lot of tension in the marriage and were tangibly afraid that their parents would break up,” she says. “It will be interesting to see what that looks like and what reconciliation might look like, what a split might look like. It’s definitely something to think about.”
Whether the show will make Shay Rudolph’s character go back to Manhattan for a while, as Stacey does in the books, is up in the air. “I don’t know,” the EP adds with a chuckle. “I don’t want to lose Stacey!”
MAY I SEE YOUR REFERENCES? | “Kids can know an awful lot of things that are their passion,” Shukert says when we ask about the very eclectic cultural references the girls have casually dropped over the past two seasons. (Example: Claudia’s invocation of an iconic line from Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.) Hence Jessi’s mention of ballet greats, Mary Anne’s frequent Broadway callouts, and Dawn’s nods to historical political movements. “There’s a saying in writers’ rooms that you either write about a group where they’ve seen characters Star Wars or where they are? in Star Wars‘ she adds with a laugh. “This is definitely a show that the characters have seen. And I see that as something that is also inspired by the books… The Babysitters Club was the first place i ever heard of rosemary baby.” So when Claudia brought up American artist Elizabeth Peyton, “I think there was a note that said, ‘Are kids going to know who Elizabeth Peyton is?’” Shukert recalls. “And I was like, ‘No, but now they will.’ You’ve never heard of anything – until you’ve heard of it.”