I always wanted to be a Stacey. She was a blonde city girl, cool and worldly and ever so slightly aloof — all things I wished I were. I was a goofy kid, terrible at school (especially math) and preferring to focus on creative endeavors, like art or perfecting an outfit. In other words, deep down, I knew I was a Claudia.
If you were a young girl during the ’80s and ’90s, Sex and the City most certainly wasn’t your first time parsing multiple female characters to decide which was your soul mate. For me, at least, it was The Baby-Sitters Club. It’s hard enough at 35 to know yourself, much less at 10, the age I was when I devoured the books. But the series helped simplify all of that: Were you a Kristy, the athletic leader of the group (and, arguably, queer)? Or maybe more of a Mary-Anne, the quiet type-A one harboring a long-term crush on a boy? I think these characters helped me figure out who I was, even as I was in that never-ending process of becoming who I was.
The series is now a show on Netflix, and while it’s updated in terms of time frame, technology, and aesthetic, it keeps the warm heart of the original series. Nothing too bad ever happens in Stoneybrook, the disagreements the girls get in are solved in 30 minutes, and above all else, their friendship and sense of community is the most soothing balm. Based on several of the original books, it’s both a lovely introduction of the series to a new generation of teen girls and a homey time capsule for those of us who grew up with it (especially with Alicia Silverstone cast as Kristy’s mom).
Watching the first few episodes of the new series is an endearing mush of nostalgia, particularly the costumes: They’re updated for 2020, but Claudia still has her wacky artist outfits, Kristy’s baseball cap makes an appearance, and Stacey’s still the only one who can wear a beret. But the series feels fresh, too. With an eye to diversity, the new characters feel perfectly cast and had me reconsidering which Baby-Sitters Club character, 20-something years later, I am. As a kid, both the TV series and film was cast as white, with the exception of Claudia and Jessi, who were described in the books as Japanese-American and Black. But this new version casts both Mary Anne and Dawn with actresses of color and also infuses Stoneybrook with its own LGBTQ+ community. Being able to see the Baby-Sitters Club of my youth finally reflect the world around me had me reconsidering everything.
Ultimately, I went back to Claudia. While part of me, even now, wishes I was a Stacey — I have to accept my fate that I have always been and always will be a Claudia. She’s goofy and loves to snack, and in this new iteration her crush is a painter who skateboards. Upon that detail, I texted a dear friend about how much she’d love the new series and reiterating that I’m a Claudia. Her response was simply, “I’m a Mary Anne obviously.”