Kate Vlasek and Lauryn Hunter are two women in their mid-thirties who generally geek out about all things pop culture, particularly nostalgic pop culture. A spur-of-the-moment purchase of a random assortment of Baby-Sitters Club books on eBay sparked the excitement that would become Generation BSC.
And what is Generation BSC? First, it’s a micro-generation Kate and Lauryn have identified with between Generation X and Millennials. This micro-generation has also been called the Oregon Trail Generation, Generation Catalano, the Star Wars Generation, Xennials, and Elder Millennials - essentially, for our purposes, those born between 1980 and 1985 who would have read Baby-Sitters Club books as they were being released in the late 80s and early 90s. (As an aside, we've come to realize since starting our journey with the Baby-Sitters Club, however, that Generation BSC really is anyone who has grown or is growing up with the BSC, but we're examining it from our perspective in particular.) Second, it’s a biweekly episodic podcast where Kate and Lauryn revisit each book in the Baby-Sitters Club series both looking back at how they approached the topics and themes when they read the books as children and comparing that with how they approach the same topics and themes in 2019 (and beyond).
Eventually, the podcast will include guests and “Very Special Episodes” where Kate and Lauryn visit other pop culture from the same era and later, using the Baby-Sitters Club and Generation BSC as a jumping off point for discussion.
Whether you’ve loved the Baby-Sitters Club since childhood or are jumping in for the first time, you’ll have a great time reading along with Kate and Lauryn.
Generation BSC logo created by Jordyn Hunter.
December 1st, 2020 | 55 mins 30 secs
main series, mary anne
Kate and Lauryn were excited to get back to a Mary Anne book, but end up a little frustrated by how out of character she and the rest of the BSC act throughout this book. Basically, Tigger goes missing because Mary Anne can’t be bothered to take him in the house and then she (and the BSC) vacillates between frantic and lackadaisical and not using logic before Mary Anne finally figures out that Logan’s sister, Kerry, had found Tigger and was keeping him as a secret pet in her closet. We take issue with Logan and dissect the fact that our fond feelings may be as a result of the repetitive positive commentary in each book and the fact that he doesn’t actually appear in person in many books in the series. It’s a book that could’ve been great, but just missed the mark and to avoid a total pile-on, we use some of the episode to talk about larger themes and ideas in the series as a whole, in particular focusing on the difference in how Claudia’s Japanese-American heritage is treated versus how the narrators in each book approach describing Jessi as Black and looking toward more opportunities to continue that conversation in the future. We also touch on some of the real pop culture referenced in the book, including A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Baby Island, and Millions of Cats, which leads to a general discussion of other pop culture we may have missed (Madeleine L’Engel and His Dark Materials) or that does or does not hold up today (Empire Records vs. Can’t Hardly Wait) and the joys of going into something with low expectations and ending up being pleasantly surprised.
November 17th, 2020 | 1 hr 7 mins
kristy, main series
Kate and Lauryn kick off this episode with their excitement over Netflix’s renewal of The Baby-Sitters Club series for Season Two (and include some thoughts about potential plotlines and what we hope to see in the second season). Then circling back to the topic at hand, we discuss another pretty great book in the series that delves into what a family really is through Kristy’s examination of her family (which includes the BSC, but not her “real dad”) and the addition of a new sister, Emily Michelle. We discuss chosen families and found families vs. a family you’re born into and what that means generally and for both of us. We also get into the good and bad of Emily Michelle’s adoption and how it’s handled in this book (and how we wish it had done better as a teaching opportunity). We circle back to one of our favorite topics related to the series – the fact that each book feels like a conversation with a friend and how much we love the way that reinforces our love of these books – and include some asides related to Kristy’s interest in fashion, being childfree, how quietly radical these books really were for their time, that Kristy could be the next Elizabeth Holmes if she gave into some of her worst tendencies, nostalgia, and jellies shoes.
November 3rd, 2020 | 55 mins 2 secs
dawn, main series
Kate and Lauryn recover from the frustrations they had in their last episode with a much more lighthearted discussion of Dawn on the Coast, where Dawn spends her (two-week?) Spring Break in California visiting her dad and Jeff. We have a fun discussion of the ins and outs of Dawn’s specific California and what “California” meant conceptually in the late 80s vs. now, while also diving into a deeper conversation on what “home” and “belonging” mean and the ultimate realization that you can look at it not as a choice between two places where a decision means a loss, but rather a win because you have two places you belong. It’s ultimately a fun preview of Super Special #5 (California Girls!) that includes thoughtful consideration of those themes. We also comment on how much we love some of those more special BSC-sitting charge connections (e.g., Dawn and Nicky Pike, which plays an important role here), Lauryn's obsession with Son-in-Law (and Carla Gugino), Ann M. Martin’s blessing of copycat babysitting clubs, the references to existing or made-up media throughout this book and the series, air travel of the past (complete with smoking vs. non-smoking seats), and the joys (or not) of ravioli and coleslaw as a meal.
October 20th, 2020 | 57 mins 51 secs
jessi, main series
Kate and Lauryn attempt to dive into a conversation on Jessi’s second book where “having a pet” is the obsession du jour, but find themselves discussing an uncomfortably timed election (and seemingly out of nowhere) subplot where Kristy acts uncharacteristically despotic and controlling. What we expected to be mostly a fun light discussion of Jessi’s pet-sitting antics (which, don’t worry, there’s that too) initially kicks off with an examination of our disappointment in the mischaracterization of most of our girls and in the use of this storyline in a book where the narrator isn’t able to shed any real light on the driving concerns or lessons to be learned (as could have been accomplished with the same storyline in a Kristy or Mary Anne book). We do manage to get into the ridiculousness of an eleven year-old pet-sitting for an excessive number of animals for over a week (with both weekends) and dissect the best names chosen by the Mancusis for their menagerie. And it wouldn’t be an episode of Generation BSC without some semi-on- and off-topic tangents like childhood pet situations, family vacations during school, bad apple teachers, best friendship, timeline wonkiness, and (of course) Kristy’s Mystery Admirer.
October 6th, 2020 | 1 hr 2 mins
main series, mallory
Kate and Lauryn are back to basics and regularly-scheduled programming with their discussion of Mallory and the troublesome, terrorizing twins – Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold. Despite the trouble and terror, it’s a light book to ease everyone back into the regular series discussion. Mallory has some significant plot ignorance that causes her to completely forget that her identical triplet brothers are different people with distinct personalities until it makes sense for her to remember in time to have the realization that maybe the twins are also different people with distinct personalities who don’t want to be dressed in identical infantilizing outfits with identical lives. We cut Mallory some slack since the story called for it and she brings it around in giving Marilyn and Carolyn the opportunity to realize and act on their own agency. And Mallory is even inspired by them to do the same for herself – with respect to ear-piercing and hair-cutting. Yep, it’s the one with the obsession with twinning and piercing, as multiple charges dress identically for fun and the BSC goes “malling” to get a total of nine holes pierced. We discuss how the new BSC series has or has not impacted our reading, the movie versions of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings being the definitive versions of each, and our own feelings and experiences on twinning and ear-piercing before taking a more on-topic tangent than you might expect into influencer culture and children’s rights to consent or object to their parents’ (or others’) posting of them on social media. And as always, we remind ourselves just how great Mallory is along with how much we appreciate Ann M. Martin for the care and thought she puts into writing each of these books and capturing each girl’s distinct voice and personality.
September 15th, 2020 | 59 mins 44 secs
emergency meeting, netflix series, super special
Kate and Lauryn round out their Netflix mini-series with a one-part discussion of the two-part finale of season one! It's our conversation about episodes eight and nine - Hello, Camp Moosehead!
September 8th, 2020 | 40 mins 20 secs
emergency meeting, kristy, netflix series
The Netflix mini-series continues with Kate and Lauryn’s discussion of Kristy’s Big Day, episode eight of the first season. Edie and Watson’s wedding has arrived and we end up with mixed feelings about this one. In particular, we discuss missing the large-scale babysitting job and last-minute DIY nature of the wedding in the book, the overly fancy and “done” nature of the wedding in the show, and the significant issues related to money and expectations – Watson’s lack of focus or care about spending it and the implications on the family as a whole, Edie’s focus of her concerns about Watson’s spending solely on Kristy, and Edie’s reaffirming that she expects more of Kristy (not to mention that this is because Kristy’s her favorite). Notwithstanding some of our concerns, we, of course, express our great love for Karen, Morbidda Destiny, and Marc Evan Jackson. We take an on-topic tangent to discuss appropriation related to the practices of Aunt Esme and her share circle and a broader approach to spirituality and related practices. And of course the episode wouldn’t be complete without a conversation about all the wedding fashion (and Kristy’s very on brand SECOND grey sweatsuit).
September 1st, 2020 | 50 mins 4 secs
emergency meeting, netflix series, stacey
The mini-series conversation on the Netflix series continues with Kate and Lauryn's discussion of episode eight of the first season - Boy-Crazy Stacey!
August 25th, 2020 | 58 mins 25 secs
claudia, emergency meeting, netflix series
Kate and Lauryn keep up the mini-series discussion about the Netflix series with a conversation about episode six of season one, Claudia and Mean Janine, and also delve a little deeper into The Claudia Kishi Club.
August 18th, 2020 | 40 mins 29 secs
dawn, emergency meeting, netflix series
Kate and Lauryn’s Netflix discussion continues this week with a conversation about Dawn and the Impossible Three, the fifth episode of the first season. It’s another episode that stays pretty true to the plot of the book on which it’s based with an in-depth look at who Dawn is, why she (and her mom) came to Stoneybrook, and just how much she’s willing to do to get into the Baby-Sitters Club. We focus on the various father-child (mostly daughter) relationships that are covered, compared, and contrasted throughout this episode – focusing in particular on the differences between Dawn’s and Kristy’s relationships with their respective dads. Those differing relationships bring things to a head in Dawn and Kristy’s relationship, with Dawn doing what she does best and helping Kristy get to the heart of why she’s upset and lashing out. In examining how Kristy and Dawn interact throughout this episode, we confirm just how much we love the relationship between these characters and again gush about how much we love Dawn. We touch on the ridiculousness of the girls calling all parents in their lives (clients and otherwise) by their first names, narrative fake-outs, crystals, and how disgusting it is in TV and movies when people put their shoes on beds, couches, and coffee tables without a care in the world.
August 11th, 2020 | 40 mins 29 secs
emergency meeting, mary anne, netflix series
Kate and Lauryn jump back into the episode-specific discussions for the summer mini-series to discuss episode four of the Netflix series, Mary Anne Saves the Day. The show does a good job again of hewing close to the plotline of the book of the same name, with some great updates. For example, while a 1980s babysitter might successfully evidence her maturity solely be staying calm and calling 911, a 2020s babysitter needs to do more to take agency and find her voice. Here, Mary Anne shows her maturity in standing up for and speaking on behalf of Bailey, the trans girl she’s babysitting. We go back and forth on the pros and cons of Bailey’s storyline here, ultimately coming down on the positive side – appreciating in particular that Bailey being trans isn’t presented as a “thing” for Mary Anne to learn about and get comfortable with, rather that Mary Anne is presented the opportunity to speak up for Bailey when she can’t after the medical professionals misgender her. We talk about the fight the girls have (which is focused solely on Mary Anne, rather than being a collective fight as in the book), Dawn’s introduction, ongoing awesomeness, and status as an over-sharer, the reimagining of Dawn and her mom and the greater implications of the change in their race and the dropping of Jeff as a character. We also touch on Claudia’s plaid Clueless homage, chairs with hidden candy-stashing compartments, the “Mary Anne is a Boss” playlist and its greater implications, and the fantastic sequin content of Bailey’s wardrobe and agree to disagree on just what the definition of a “meet cute” is.
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.