Kate grew up a Mary Anne who desperately wanted to be a Stacey. As an adult, she’s a Claudia/Shannon hybrid whose days are spent practicing law and whose evenings and weekends are spent making jewelry and purses in between walks with her dog, Indiana, and her husband. She would like to thank her mom for “loaning” all her BSC books to cousins when she was a child, as it resulted in the Friday afternoon eBay hunt and resulting purchase that inspired the creation of this podcast.
EM009: Emergency Meeting - A Conversation with Anna Nguyen re: The Claudia Kishi Club and the Netflix Series!
August 4th, 2020 | 55 mins 31 secs
claudia, emergency meeting, guest, netflix series
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.
July 28th, 2020 | 44 mins 30 secs
emergency meeting, netflix series, stacey
Kate and Lauryn continue their summer mini-series and discuss The Truth About Stacey, episode three of the Netflix series. Conceptually, this episode sticks pretty close to the book, with the (thankfully) dropped miracle cure/quack doctor aspect, due in large part to our greater understanding of Type 1 Diabetes in children. The issues with Stacey’s parents now arise from their misunderstood concern about protecting Stacey, which Stacey reads as embarrassment and internalizes. The Baby-Sitters Agency is reimagined as a high school-aged group with significantly more business and marketing savvy, but with the same disdain for actually being good babysitters, run by Lacy Lewis, a Disney Channel series level mean girl who turns the villainy up to 11 when she releases a video of Stacey going into diabetic shock. We use this episode to praise the creators of the series for taking the opportunity to make the parents (in particular in this episode, the McGills) into more fully-formed and real-feeling characters (and Kate takes the opportunity for a cilantro-based analogy that maybe works?). We praise Sam for putting in words the problem with using “Club” in their name, but come to realize through discussion that the BSC really is a club, despite also being a business. We discuss some of the highs and lows of updates and representation in the show versus the books and recognize that there is a lot more to discuss on those aspects as we continue through our mini-series. And as always, we wrap up our discussion with a conversation about fashion, with a primary focus on Stacey and Claudia here and where Lauryn succinctly states that Claudia is fashion and Stacey is more ready-to-wear (and we say that with love).
July 21st, 2020 | 39 mins 32 secs
claudia, emergency meeting, netflix series
The Emergency Meetings continue with Kate and Lauryn’s discussion of Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, episode two of The Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix. Despite the title and general concepts being the same as the second book in the main series, we note that the Phantom Caller concept has been significantly modified and the related Phantom Phone Calls from Trevor Sandbourne and Alan Gray are non-existent. We discuss how this makes sense, but the shoehorning in of the Phantom Caller metaphor to retain that reference to the original leaves us a little disappointed with that aspect, while loving the episode as a whole. We get our introduction to Richard Spier in one of several nods to horror movies (and a clear indication of just how big a drama king he is). Parent/child relationships, expectations, and lack of communication are the big theme in this book, which we explore through our discussion of the Kishi parents with both Claudia and Janine and Kristy with Liz (also known forever to us as Edie) and Watson. Karen Brewer makes her first significant appearance and we are here for it. Her spooky energy is everything we didn’t know we needed. We touch on how great this show is at fleshing out these characters and showing their motivations when they do things that might otherwise seem out of character, how well it justifies original plot points despite updates to technology, Nancy Meyers kitchen porn, Mary Anne’s opportunity to be clever despite the lack of early warning system necessities, just what soigné actually means, and how the costumes chosen by Claudia and Stacey are so indicative of who they are.
July 14th, 2020 | 33 mins 33 secs
emergency meeting, kristy, netflix series
Kate and Lauryn are back with the first Emergency Meeting episode in their summer mini-series to discuss the (hopefully first) season of The Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix! It’s a revisiting of Kristy’s Great Idea, updated to modern day. We discuss how the themes of the episode compare with those of the book it’s based on and find that this one sticks pretty close in spirit, if not in actual plot. There’s a fun montage of Edie trying to find a babysitter that we feel does a great job of justifying why the BSC would be useful and needed even with all the technology we have available today. We touch on how great it is that the kids on the show actually look like kids and discuss how perfectly cast everyone seems to be (with the caveat that there will be further discussions of potentially problematic casting when it comes to Jessi). We laugh at the fact that there is an actual “Danny Tanner Moment,” while appreciating that the show does a great job of turning it into a conversation rather than a parental soliloquy. We absolutely love of Watson and his inclusion in this episode in very integral ways that give us the foundation for his relationship with Kristy we were lamenting not being able to see when we discussed Kristy and the Walking Disaster. Edie’s parenting style when in comes to Kristy vs. Sam and Charlie gives us an opportunity to discuss how we wish the show had done better in some ways. We also obsess over the fashion, question how much kids actually babysit today, praise the level of detail in production design, and round out the episode quoting Kristy’s Breakfast Club-y essay voiceover.
July 7th, 2020 | 1 hr 14 mins
kristy, main series
Emergency Meeting alert! We're as excited as all of you about the Netflix series and will be kicking off a weekly series to do a deep dive into the show to discuss with each other and you. Make sure to subscribe and follow us on social media for updates on new episodes!
Despite being the eponymous Walking Disaster, Jackie Rodowsky plays less of a central role in this book than you’d otherwise expect. He’s there, of course, but so are the 19 or so other babysitting charges who make up Kristy’s Krushers – a rag-tag softball team that is the product of another of Kristy’s “Great Ideas” when she realizes the kids in the neighborhood want to play softball, but maybe can’t otherwise do so for various reasons (most of which relate to being embarrassed about their skills). It’s a light book where we get to spend time with characters we love without any significant deep dive into any character or topic, which is sometimes a nice break in the BSC series. This is the book that introduces Bart Taylor, a very, very, very cute boy (according to Kristy) who has another rag-tag softball team in the neighborhood (although their so-called rag-tag-ness is called into question in our discussion here). We get a nice look into Kristy and Watson’s growing relationship, albeit without much build-up in the prior books to indicate that they are getting closer and more familial. We discuss some of the problematic positions taken in this book (in particular, the condemning of the use of the word fatso, but not of the underlying opinions that being fat is bad, and Bart’s complete failure to apologize for the Bashers’ bullying of Matt Braddock for being deaf), while positing an alternate telling with more focus on Kristy and Bart’s interactions along with brainstorming fanfic as to how Charlie is spending his time from 5:30 to 6 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Random side topics discussed also include thoughts on Ann’s writing process, vocabulary lessons, fourth wall-breaking, our personal feelings on loose teeth, purposeful misspellings, and twins in pop culture.
June 23rd, 2020 | 1 hr 23 mins
claudia, main series
Pranks are sweeping the neighborhood, with new babysitting charge, Betsy Sobak, and the Pikes leading the charge. And despite Kate’s prediction that the prank war declared on Betsy by the BSC could NEVER be after Claudia’s accident because that would be too shitty a thing for them to do, it turns out that they are, in fact, just that shitty as they decide to use a prank war to teach Betsy a lesson. Yeah, it’s another book where the girls let us down and the main child isn’t the greatest as the BSC takes “parenting advice” from George and Lucille Bluth to scare Betsy straight when it comes to the humiliation and embarrassment that comes from pranks when everyone hasn’t bought in on the concept. We compare and contrast the pranking that goes on with the Pikes and their babysitters (where everyone has a tacit understanding of give and take and has fun with it) and the situation with Betsy and her babysitters and classmates, who clearly do not have that type of relationship. We do appreciate that the lesson eventually comes due to a heartfelt conversation between Kristy and Betsy (rather than a mansplainy monologue a la Danny Tanner), but the fact that the prank war and somewhat malicious lesson-teaching works and is reinforced definitely rubs us the wrong way. We again confirm Dawn being the absolute best friend in the BSC and try to dissect why that might be (and getting a little arm chair expert-y in our conversation), while noting that the Claudia/Janine dynamic in this book is our favorite iteration of their relationship. We also touch on Claudia’s Asian-ness when compared to Jessi’s Blackness and how that will be something we pay more attention to as we continue reading, our heightened childhood expectations re: how important dry-cleaning would be when we grew up, wearing our dad’s (oversized on us) button-down shirts and learning how to tie flamboyantly colored/patterned ties, how when you’re a kid, it seems like every adult has stock cliched responses (e.g., “but it’s a dry heat,” “it’s not the heat that gets you, it’s the humidity”), and how oatmeal raisin cookies and apple juice might be the worst afterschool snack ever.
June 9th, 2020 | 1 hr 18 mins
main series, stacey
It’s our first Stacey book post-move back to NYC and as we predicted, Stacey’s mistake is two-fold – initially she thinks it was a mistake to invite the BSC to New York to visit and meet Laine, but she comes to realize her own mistake in not appreciating her friends for who they are and acknowledging and not taking for granted the amazing city she gets to live in. After the lighthearted reprieve of the last book, we dive right back into an “issue book” that examines homelessness. We discuss the very surface level limited engagement with the topic while acknowledging again that these are books for kids and wondering how books of today are tackling this topic with more nuance and depth. This of course leads to an on-topic tangential discussion of Home Alone 2 and the “magical homeless person” trope of the early 90s. We also discuss the interplay among the members of the BSC and Laine, touching on jealousy at 13 (and today) and imposter syndrome and how those might impact the girls’ (and women’s generally) ability to feel confident in relationships and interactions, particularly with other girls (or women), touching on the fact that normalizing the feelings associated with imposter syndrome would likely benefit everyone. We also touch on the Hard Rock Café, the joys (or not – looking at you Kanye) of monochromatic dressing, sending postcards during a long weekend trip, Kate’s shocking admission that she “likes music,” acknowledgement that Alan Gray just might be Lauryn’s Cokie Mason, and monster bones.
As noted in the pre-episode message, we remain fully committed to supporting Black Lives Matter and all BIPOC voices and have included the following resources and ways to support:
May 26th, 2020 | 47 mins 48 secs
emergency meeting, mary anne
Kate and Lauryn hold their final (for now) Emergency Meeting to discuss what Mary Anne’s doing in quarantine (with some general final thoughts on the rest of the BSC and Stoneybrook in general). We agree that Mary Anne is feeling EVERYTHING and using a regimented schedule to stay focused on maintaining connections and helping others and avoiding getting bogged down by those emotions. Her dad likely kept up his rules about the phone and computer initially, but realized the need to allow more flexibility for Mary Anne to stay connected and coordinate Zoom calls with the BSC and their babysitting charges to try to maintain as much normalcy as possible. Mary Anne is likely relying a lot on Logan, the girls in the BSC, and Mimi for emotional support and an outlet for her feelings, due to her dad’s more closed-off approach to emotions. We agree Mary Anne is probably putting together her own pop culture challenges (e.g., reading every book in a series, watching the entire series of a show, or finishing all the books that have won a certain award) to give her a more passive activity that still allows her to feel like she’s accomplishing something. We ponder what the adult versions of the girls would be doing and in a roundabout way, when examining ourselves at thirteen, realize that extrapolating from thirteen years old is actually a pretty reasonable approximation of where they’ll end up as adults. We touch on Dawn (being the parent), Mallory (writing and dealing with her large family), and Jessi (ballet, ballet, ballet), discuss Lauryn’s copyright-infringing BSC flyer for her own club, ponder which house we’d want to quarantine at, confirm the abundance of BSC fanfic on the internet, and (of course) discuss what Cokie Mason is doing in quarantine (trolling the girls while secretly wanting to be their friend).
May 19th, 2020 | 1 hr 10 mins
main series, mary anne
It’s our first episode since the teaser for the new Netflix BSC series dropped, so Kate and Lauryn take a quick sidetrack to discuss their excitement and thoughts (generally and with respect to the FINALLY confirmed perfect casting of Marc Evan Jackson as Mary Anne’s dad). Then diving into the story at hand, we immediately touch on the Cokie Mason of it all (as she has made her long-awaited first appearance in the series) before getting into the bad luck mystery itself, stemming initially from a discarded chain letter Mary Anne receives, but continuing mostly due to Cokie’s scheming to help her friend Grace get Logan’s attention. We focus on the girls’ confirmation bias related to the bad luck they all experience and how they all immediately go all-in on the superstitions and witchcraft. We lament that there’s no skeptic or voice of reason like with child pageants previously, but transition into a conversation about the intended audience – specifically, how maybe that’s not necessary and generally, how well Ann M. Martin does at teaching kids how to read as they read. We do a related dive into Kate’s obsession with Kristy’s Mystery Admirer and how it and this book, when considered together, make absolutely no sense, leading to further discussion of timeline wonkiness and divergent/parallel timelines, and how the future ghostwriters may be the actual cause of all our confusion on those points. We also compare and contrast the characterizations in the books vs. the movies and find book Logan wanting, question Charlie Thomas’s life choices and wonder what a series from his perspective might look like (spoiler – likely very interesting and we want to read it so badly), and find ourselves concerned with the overly cliquishness and superiority of our BSC girls in this book. On the babysitting front specifically, Kate judges Dawn’s crafting choices and Lauryn finds the humor in her real-life nightmare, noting Claire Pike’s adorable question regarding whether a bird knows Santa Claus after it gets into her house through the chimney.
May 12th, 2020 | 33 mins 47 secs
emergency meeting, stacey
Kate and Lauryn’s ongoing focus on the girls and what we think they’re doing to handle quarantine continues with an examination of Stacey’s situation in particular. We think Stacey’s going a little stir-crazy due to her lack of yard and outdoor space, her parents, and her high-risk status due to her diabetes and have divergent ideas about how she’s dealing with school, with Kate discovering she apparently has VERY strong opinions about the type of student Stacey is (i.e., one who would freak out if she got a C). Kate thinks Stacey is focusing on aspirational imaginary outfits and Lauryn contemplates a lifestyle blog for the tween set. And (of course) keeping up with the girls in Stoneybrook and Laine and finding enjoyment in having so much time to talk to them. In lieu of our typical check-in, we take a page from some of our favorite podcasts and focus on the positives with our own fucking hoorays and what’s making us happy recently (Never Have I Ever; the Parks & Recreation reunion; The Science of Sci-Fi by Erin Macdonald; Harry Potter audiobooks; Star Wars Day (a/k/a Kate's birthday) and Star Wars generally; and friends and family). We end with a HUGE thank you to all the healthcare and other essential workers keeping us safe and the world running.
May 5th, 2020 | 1 hr 3 mins
jessi, main series
It's Jessi’s first book and you know what? We’ve discovered/confirmed that Jessi’s pretty awesome. Past Kate and Lauryn didn’t know what they were missing in Jessi (and Mallory), but we think that maybe they just weren’t aspirational enough when we were reading since they were more similar to us in age and “coolness” (and let’s be honest – in-person fangirling and thirst). This book was very much an afternoon special-type examination and depiction of deafness and how one should interact with deaf individuals and while we’re disappointed in the fact that Jessi’s first book was an “issue” book and that there’s a lack of representation of any actually-deaf characters, we really enjoyed this one and the way the story presented itself. We remind ourselves just what a strong series this actually was and is (to-date at least) and how well they’ve held up, particularly since they’ve given us such interesting and deep topics to discuss and reflect on. We also spend some time talking on our childhood loves of ballet – with Lauryn actually participating and Kate enjoying from the audience – but both recalling an obsession with Coppélia traced to this very book. We discuss Jessi’s meta reference to the “last chapter,” Lauryn’s borderline obsession with Richard Dreyfuss as a child, the correct usage of “LEGO,” the stylishness (or not) of rat tails, and Kate’s certainty that her obsession with Cokie Mason will finally be plot-specific discussion worthy in the next book.
April 28th, 2020 | 30 mins 1 sec
claudia, emergency meeting
Kate and Lauryn continue with their emergency meetings to check in with each of the girls and discuss what we think Claudia is doing during her COVID-induced quarantine. We disagree initially about how Claudia reacts to school being cancelled, with Lauryn focusing on the schoolwork aspect and Kate focusing on the interpersonal face-to-face interactions. We touch on how we think Claudia and Janine are handling being quarantined together (likely exactly how they have in the two books where their relationship has been a focus – conflicts initially, but coming around to understanding). We discuss whether Claudia is on the front lines of mask-making, either actually making them or possibly finding ways to decorate the masks, especially to make them more fun and less scary for kids. Knowing Claudia’s love of junk food and Nancy Drews, we discuss how we think Claudia is getting more of these things to satisfy her needs and whether her parents have maybe softened their position on these items given what’s going on in the world. Lauryn pretends that Amazon doesn’t exist in the version of 2020 that the BSC is in for purposes of our discussion and Kate questions whether Claudia would even use it if it was available. We definitely agree Claudia is using her time at home to focus on her art (and exploring new media) and on fashion and creating amazing outfits, potentially creating (or expanding) a fashion Instagram or blog. We again end with a quick check-in on how we’re feeling and getting through self-isolation this week.
Stay safe and healthy everyone!!
April 21st, 2020 | 1 hr 4 mins
dawn, main series
It’s our first regular episode recorded remotely post-quarantine and we’re discussing what we’ve agreed to be one of the best BSC books to-date in the series. This one tackles two potentially difficult topics – child pageants generally and Jeff’s long-imminent return to California – with nuance and consideration and we’re here for it. Dawn gets dramatic about the induction ceremony for Jessi and Mallory and uses an invitation by Mrs. Pike to help Claire and Margo prepare for the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant to distract from Club-related jealousies and the difficult situation at home with the Schafer parents working out an arrangement for Jeff’s temporary return to California to see how it goes. The rest of the BSC (aside from Mallory and Jessi, who are opposed to pageants) gets into the competitive aspect and each get their own girl to help prepare. As always, the girls learn from their mistakes and realize they don’t need to compete or be jealous of each other. We discuss the “best” talent at the pageant (Margo’s poem recitation while opening and eating a banana with her feet), our past and current feelings on pageants in general (and how the book presents a balanced take), Dawn’s dramatic nature, Mrs. Schafer’s shockingly (to Lauryn) on-point advice and knowledge drops to Dawn, Mrs. Perkins thoughtful commentary on competition generally, and the world of big cat owners. We also touch on the significant number of instances where the BSC members take their charges to other locations, frequently without any kind of note or other notice for the parents, and again note how rich the people in Stoneybrook seem to be.
April 14th, 2020 | 22 mins 30 secs
emergency meeting, kristy
Kate and Lauryn are going a little stir-crazy in self-isolation and have called another emergency meeting to discuss how we think Kristy is doing in quarantine (with the intent being to discuss each of the girls and beyond as this continues). Kristy is definitely being pragmatic about the situation and doing what she can to make the best of the situation and help however she can. Regarding the BSC, Kristy is, of course, being Kristy and coming up with all kinds of ideas about how the BSC can continue to help their charges and families (while keeping the Club going generally). In particular, we think she’s using technology to coordinate specific Zoom (or otherwise) meetings between individual babysitters and families while also doing something akin to their day camp arrangement, with daily appointments where kids can drop in (or not). (The technology will likely become an integrated part of the BSC’s repertoire, particularly for connections with kids (or babysitters) who have moved away.) In the physical world, we think Karen and Andrew (rather than David Michael as mistakenly referenced in the episode) are likely staying with the Thomas-Brewer house (and maybe their mom is there too à la the Bruce Willis/Demi Moore quarantine situation) and Kristy is keeping them and David Michael busy and engaged to allow Watson and Edie to continue working. Kristy is probably coordinating walk times with human Shannon and their respective dogs along with group hopscotch trails and scavenger and bear hunts in her neighborhood and the old neighborhood where the rest of the BSC lives to get kids outside and moving. We end with a check-in on how we’re feeling and getting through self-isolation this week.
April 7th, 2020 | 1 hr 9 mins
main series, mallory
We’ve long been anticipating (or dreading) this day, but Mallory (and Jessi) has officially joined the BSC! Despite the end of the last book with Stacey’s invitation to Mallory to join, the BSC decides to put Mallory through increasingly unreasonable tests and trials before she quits. This one also includes Jessi moving to Stoneybrook, Mallory deciding they would be best friends (and making it happen), Jessi’s family being subjected to some straight-up bullshit racism, and the formation of a BSC copycat, Kids Incorporated (which yes, results in us singing the theme song of the show with the same name). As always, the BSC, old and new, come together by the end, learning in the process and taking the maybe too easy way out in combatting racism. In addressing the racism storylines in this book, we acknowledge our own privilege in examining and addressing the stories of minority and marginalized groups and appreciate the limited inclusion and attempts at addressing major issues while also examining the difficulty of separating problematic art from its historical perspective and (although not applicable here) the artists later revealed to be human garbage and discussing how this type of story might be better approached by an author writing today. On lighter, but still on-topic, notes, we spend a long time reeling in the discovery that Mallory describes herself (and her entire family) as having dark brown hair, questioning whether Claudia is left-handed, and taking a deep dive into what it is about horses and pre-teen girls. In a shocking twist, we have very few random tangents, particularly of note as you’d expect us to want to change the topic from Mallory as quickly as possible, given our past feelings on her.
April 3rd, 2020 | 24 mins 13 secs
Kate and Lauryn call their first emergency meeting for an update on the state of the world and the state of the podcast before getting into a discussion of the recent releases and knowledge-drops related to the upcoming Netflix BSC series. We already knew Netflix was making a show and that Alicia Silverstone and Mark Feurstein were involved, but the details since then have been completely under wraps. In the last few weeks, however, there has been a major release related to the girls and their portrayers and what the show is going to look like. We get into our thoughts on the casting and costuming, both immediate knee-jerk reactions and our more in-depth analysis, and what we are anticipating, expecting, and hoping for from the series. (Note that Kate was clearly too excited and talking/reading too quickly and inadvertently initially says that Malia Baker is Latina – clarified later in the episode, but Malia is black and Xochitl is Latina.)
Stay safe and healthy everyone!!