The Baby-Sitters Club is making a comeback! The delightful Netflix series, based on Ann M. Martin’s best-selling book series, will premiere July 2. The show will explore the friends and adventures of Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace), Mary-Anne Spier (Malia Baker), Claudia Kishi (Momona Tamada), Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph), and Dawn Schafer (Xochitl Gomez) as the middle-schoolers start their babysitting business in the town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut.
The first book in The Baby-Sitters Club series was released in 1986. New books were released until 2000. The children’s book series was adapted into a TV show, movie, and graphic novel in the ’90s. Even though the cast members of the Netflix remake were born far later, they were all aware of The Baby-Sitters Club before taking on their roles.
“I actually read the books growing up. I was introduced to them in elementary school, and I just fell in love with the books and just continue to read them,” Momona told HollywoodLife. Shay added, “All my friends read the graphic novels in the fourth grade, and I thought they were so cool. I was always asking to borrow copies. I didn’t have a ginormous connection with the books before I got the audition, but I did feel super connected to the script as soon as I read it.”
For Sophie, her older sister had a huge collection of the books. “It was just a really, really cool thing for us to bond over and talk about,” Sophie said about reading the books. Malia’s mom always referred to her as a “Dawn” before she even got the role of Mary-Anne. Her mom even had a big box of the books in their garage. “I hit the jackpot. I got to reading right away when I was around 10 years old, and I’ve loved them ever since,” Malia said. Xochitl’s mom ordered The Baby-Sitters Club books off eBay before she even auditioned. “After I knew I was part of it, I watched the movie and the TV series, too,” Xochitl said.
A lot has changed since the books were published. Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club has made changes to reflect today’s world. “Everybody involved in this show definitely made an effort to make the girls’ struggles and the characters, in general, feel more relatable for kids today that will be watching the show,” Shay told HollywoodLife. “They definitely still bring in that timeless essence of the books, and there are some things that are still the same, but they did update it to make it feel more relatable to anybody who’s watching it and make it feel like something that actually would be happening today.”
Xochitl said: “I feel like the original BSC themes are all there, but it just has a little more modern spin on it. Each episode, our characters are given an obstacle to overcome and a lesson during the process. Obviously, that provides a lot of drama and comedy. Ann M. Martin’s books are full of great material. The stories are literally timeless, so there’s something there for everybody. I will say that the character Dawn, who I play, has gone through one of the biggest upgrades besides Mary-Anne in the books because I am Latina, and Dawn was originally described as having long blonde hair.”
Like their characters, the actresses developed lasting friendships with each other. “From the very first second that we met, we just clicked,” Shay said. “There was this instant bond. We never really felt like we have to break any ice that first week on set.” Momona added, “I’m not going to lie, it was a little bit intimidating being in a cast of so many amazing actresses at the chemistry read, but I will say that after I talked to them and we ran our lines together, it clicked right away. What I thought was cool was that as each day kind of went on, our friendship grew stronger, too. In the show as our friendships got stronger, our friendships in real-life were also getting stronger.”
The characters of Dawn and Mary-Anne are played by actresses of color in the Netflix series. Xochitl and Malia opened up about what it means to bring more representation to the story. “I feel like now it’s an important time to bring back The Baby-Sitters Club because of representation for girls, especially women of color. Growing up I didn’t have a Latina girl to look up to. It’s just so important that a Latina character and her family are represented on a show. I hardly ever saw anyone except for Selena Gomez on Wizards of Waverly Place. It’s honestly so great to be on the show where a Latina is important and valued for her abilities.”
Malia said that “adding some more women of color into the series definitely makes it even more relatable. I remember growing up, I didn’t have almost any Black girls to look up to on the screen that I could identify with. I remember China [Anne McClain] from the A.N.T. Farm and Zendaya in Shake It Up, and that was it. Those are the two that I would watch, and I feel that people are going to hopefully feel more represented on screen.”