Last year’s reboot of Ann M. Martin’s “The Baby-Sitters Club” was a TV highlight, not only for capturing and conveying pure delight but for giving audiences warmth and familiarity during a difficult time. It would have been easy for creator Rachel Shukert to rest on that goodwill. Instead, Season 2 of the Netflix original series is just as heartfelt, fun, and charming as Season 1 while simultaneously growing along with its characters.
In Season 1, the series already laid the foundation by creating the club itself and the central conflicts that would necessitate the club’s impact on its characters. With that being over and done with, Season 2 had two roads to take: Focus on what worked and keep the club in the forefront, or throw the club deep into the background to establish more individualized plots for the various characters. Well, surprise! Shukert and crew capably walk both roads, finding more time for the members while reiterating why the club is their lifeline.
Because of that, there isn’t an overarching plot that runs through the entire series outside of opening and closing the season with club president Kristy (Sophie Grace) dealing with her mother’s new marriage to the wealthy Watson (Mark Feuerstein) and the Thomas-Brewer clan coming into their own. That being said, it’s amazing to use that conflict as bookends for the season to show how much these young women grow in a short span of time. Grace continues to prove she’s a talented find, properly handling Kristy’s take-charge attitude but also her desire to please. The season finale, involving Kristy and a person from her past, illustrates the depth of Grace’s talent.
It’s also great to see a blended family plotline develop so organically. Feuerstein really makes Watson a nerdy goof who truly cares for his wife, Elizabeth (Alicia Silverstone), Kristy, and her siblings. The finale, without getting into it too much, brings that love together in a way that feels earned and natural. There’s an added plot about Elizabeth and Watson considering having another baby that’s similarly dealt with in a mature manner, without becoming too complex for the predominately young audience.
The addition of two new members, Mallory (Vivian Watson) and Jessi (Anais Lee) round out the rest of the core sitters this season, and each actress nails what makes their roles memorable. Mallory comes from a large family and her main episode, paired up with everyone’s favorite funky artist Claudia (Momona Tamada), shows her hilarious (if incredibly grating) attempts to look cool amongst the girls. Jessi is a ballet dancer struggling to balance her desire to succeed with just being a kid. Because each character is new, their welcome introduction feels grounded while the other sitters move off into their own individual journeys.
Outside of Kristy, we see Stacey (Shay Rudolph) continue to struggle with her diabetes in “Stacey’s Emergency.” Mary Anne (Malia Baker) copes with having a new boyfriend. And Claudia deals with a traumatic life event. All three characters carry charming episodes, but “Claudia and the Sad Good-bye,” the penultimate episode before the finale, will certainly bring on the waterworks. Spoilers aside, it’s a compelling episode not only for exploring Claudia’s own response to sadness, but continuing to propel the LGBTQ concept that was laid out with Mary Anne and the trans girl she babysat last year. Let’s just say, if you read some queer coding into Martin’s book, you’ll see where the series goes.
With the girls growing into their own, it’s wonderful seeing the scripts utilize the adult characters just as much. Marc Evan Jackson and Jessica Elaina Eason prove equally fun to Feuerstein and Silverstone, as Richard Spier, Mary Anne’s dad, and Sharon Porter, Dawn’s (Kyndra Sanchez), respectively. They’re also working on blending families — in a fun episode that turns Dawn and Mary Anne into the Odd Couple — but Jackson is just perfect as the awkward dad who doesn’t know how to talk to his teenage daughter. Like the kids, the adults often have moments where they have little clue on what to do, whether that’s planning for a new baby or trying to navigate a boyfriend. The humor comes through as so genuine that it’s almost a shame each episode is little more than half an hour.
If you’ve grown up with the books, you know where the plot is headed, but the journey is just as fun. And if you grew up with the 1990 series there might be a pretty significant Easter egg that will bring tears to your eyes. Either way, this series continues to elicit smiles, no matter what. “The Baby-Sitters Club” Season 2 is just as cute as Season 1. It also marks a mature turning point, utilizing the club as not just a money-making venture but a space for these brilliant young women to come into their own.
“The Baby-Sitters Club” Season 2 premieres Monday, October 11 on Netflix.