Betrayal, internet shaming, eating disorders, menstruation sculptures, feminism, gay dads, divorced families, transgender issues, and Tinder. Nope, this isn’t the second season of Netflix’s “The Politician,” it’s season one of the “kid-friendly” show “The Baby-Sitters Club.”
The show is based on the 30-year-old fictional girls from books by Ann M. Martin spanning from 1986 to 2000. But while the names may be the same, the characters have changed quite a bit. Within Stonybrook, a small fictional suburban town in Connecticut, the girls created a babysitting club ’80s gals like me envied as kids.
The 2020 rendition of the show, however, is a version replete with leftist talking points most young girls won’t even understand. At least, I sure hope they don’t.
As I scrolled through the new releases feature on my Netflix app and saw the show was out, I got excited. I was even happier when the TV-G rating popped up. Sure enough, when I went to my “kids” profile, it was there too! Front, center, and ready to play. I didn’t even watch the trailer. I eagerly told our girls — four under the age of 11 — that I had read the books as a kid and it was a show about hard-working babysitters who are friends in a cute small town.
Within five minutes, I was awed at how expertly the writers weaved in feminist lingo and preteen angst while also being slightly scared that this wasn’t an anomaly, but what my girls are growing up with all around them: leftist propaganda under the guise of cute and entertaining television.
Thinking to myself that “maybe movies and television ratings are different from what I remember,” I quickly Googled what exactly the TV-G rating means. According to Fandom, the rating means it’s supposed to be for everyone:
Programming rated TV-G in the United States TV Parental Guidelines signifies content that is suitable for all audiences. Some children’s programs that have content that teens or adults will relate to use a TV-G rating, as opposed to a TV-Y rating. This rating is also used for shows with inoffensive content (such as cooking shows, religious programming, nature documentaries, shows about pets and animals, classic television shows, and many shows on Disney Channel carry this rating (particularly sitcoms.)
I don’t ever remember “Even Stevens” or even “High School Musical” having the mature content addressed in this series. But maybe the entertainment world’s definition of what passes for “everyone” really has changed in just those few years.
In addition to the “men are evil and women are systemically oppressed” undertones during the opening scenes, I was aghast when Kristy speculated that Stacey probably has an eating disorder, the club founder displayed horrible, bratty behavior toward her mom, and Claudia showed off her “art” of a “menstruation sculpture.” All that was on display in the first episode.
Later in the season, there’s a broken and confused mom on Tinder, a gathering of witches, a 12-year-old talking about painting nudes, and a reference to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
What really sold me on how this was not the “Baby-sitters Club” I grew up with was in episode four as Mary Anne is trying to “find her voice” — at least that’s how the innocent description and the tone of the episode go for a while. Netflix’s preview for episode four reads: “Mary Anne makes a new friend after dealing with a dad dilemma; a medical emergency puts her care-taking skills to the test.”
The club members are quite mean to Mary Anne when she takes a babysitting job without going through the proper rule protocols of making sure the other sitters aren’t available (no client can request a specific sitter). Mary Anne is playing tea with a little princess when they decide to change her outfit because she spilled.
That’s when the seventh-grade babysitter discovers that the little girl she is sitting for has a closet full of “old clothes” that are obviously for a little boy. The child then shows the sitter the dresser full of new clothes.
Soon after the mom leaves, the tween calls 911 for help when the child runs a severely high temperature. When they get to the hospital, the nurse and doctor refer to Bailey as a boy and ask how “he” is doing. This is where Mary Anne asserts herself. Her father rolls in just in time to watch proudly as his 12-year-old daughter scolds the medical duo for misgendering Bailey and making “her” uncomfortable. She then demands a pink hospital gown because Bailey doesn’t want to put on the blue one.
Now, don’t misread me here. I’m not a religious fundamentalist fanatic. Our girls watched “The Goonies” with my husband the other day! They listen to Kids Bop Top 40 music. I don’t make them wear skirts down to their ankles or ban them from hanging out with people we don’t agree with. What I want, however, is for parents to be aware of how skillfully this stuff is being presented to our children in the form of entertainment.
It’s also not just the message but often the messengers. My girls don’t care if Phil Rosenthal from “Somebody Feed Phil” is gay or trans or a feminist, they just enjoy watching him make funny faces as he tries delicious and weird foods from around the world. Yet my girls pay attention when they see “big girls” and “cool kids” spewing leftist talking points that will inevitably influence their core beliefs.
And that’s the point. The creators and writers are adeptly weaving these messages into our entertainment as if they are not just normal and socially acceptable, but the very essence of what’s just. The takeaway message is that if you don’t believe Mary Anne’s defense of the trans kid then you are a bad person. The word “bigot” is never mentioned, but tone matters. The pride shown by her father, the accolades he showers her with, and how excited she is for her moment to shine say more than enough.
I hope to raise my girls in a home where they’re free to inquire about things and even question our own beliefs. But as a mom, I also know that they have to be protected from certain messages until they are at an age where they can properly grapple with them and understand.
They’re far too young to be watching 12-year-olds kissing at camp, expertly wearing blue glitter liner, or back-talking their parents on TV. I wouldn’t let these babysitters watch our girls in real life, so why would I let my girls watch them?