Kate and Lauryn are joined this week by Anna Nguyen, a PhD student in rhetoric and composition who also uses her Instagram (@whatwouldclaudiawear) to document her own sartorial choices and meta-literary commentary on the Baby-Sitters Club. We discuss Sue Ding’s documentary, The Claudia Kishi Club, and the Netflix series generally and touch on some specifics from the book series as well. In our discussion, we examine the model minority myth and the othering of Claudia in descriptions related to such myth. Anna notes that the legacy of Claudia for Asian Americans is largely positive and shares her concerns on why she feels differently. In doing so, she unpacks the significance of identity categorizations and the tendency to universalize experiences in monolithic ways. We dive into the cultural impact of the new Netflix series, the general reception and reactions since its release, and why we (as a culture) might not be viewing it as critically as we watch and discuss. The concepts of “white excellence,” the “white savior complex,” and “black shows” vs. “white shows about black characters” come up in our discussion of the series and the books themselves when we deconstruct Kristy’s characterization in particular, including a discussion of how changing the race of some of the characters for the show had broader implications in the interpersonal reactions. We round out the conversation with an examination of the opportunities in our future discussions related to socioeconomic issues, racism, and the use of Native American imagery and names.
One small correction: In a reference to the problematic Asian character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Anna mentions Mickey Rourke as the actor in that role. Mickey Rooney appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
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