‘The Baby-Sitters Club’: Fans Have 1 Major Issue With the Show; ‘Literally My Only Complaint…’
Netflix’s version of The Baby-Sitters Club premiered less than a month ago on July 3, 2020, but already it seems to have captured the hearts of many. The 2020 version of the series, based on the books by Ann M. Martin, explores what it’s like to grow up in today’s unique political climate. Thanks to a dynamic cast and crew, strong writing, and great direction, fans of The Baby-Sitters Club are already jonesing for Netflix to announce a second season.
The show follows five friends (Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Stacey McGill, Claudia Kishi, and Dawn Schafer) as they navigate friendship, adolescence, and their babysitting business. But, Netflix has also managed to use The Baby-Sitters Club as a tool to explore important issues that young people are confronted with like gender identity, family dynamics, class, grief, chronic disease, etc.
Netflix reimagines ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ for a new generation
Thus far, Netflix’s rendition of The Baby-Sitters Club has earned rave reviews. The show is currently rated a 7.6/10 on IMDb and boasts a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Furthemore, the show has received praise for its diverse casting, with three of the main characters being portrayed by young women of color. Fans are thrilled that more young people will have an opportunity to see people who potentially look like them being represented on screen.
Of course, no show is perfect and The Baby-Sitters Club is hardly free from criticism. One major critique from fans surfaced when two new characters, Jessi Ramsey and Mallory Pike, were introduced in the penultimate episode of the first season. As fans of the book series will note, Jessi and Mallory eventually join the club and play more essential roles in the series. Unfortunately, many people were let down by the casting of Jessi.
‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ cast lacks dark skin representation
In Netflix’s version of The Baby-Sitters Club, Jessi is played by the talented Anais Lee. Though Lee is only 13 years old, she already has a few acting experiences on her resume. The biggest of which is in the 2019 film, The Sun Is Also A Star, where she plays the younger version of Yara Shahidi’s Natasha Kingsley. While nobody is denying Lee’s talent, many fans felt that casting her as Jessi was a misstep.
In the book artwork, as well as previous renditions of The Baby-Sitters Club, Jessi has always had a much darker complexion. Fans of the show felt that Netflix could have given the role to a Black girl of a deeper complexion especially since dark-skinned Black women are grossly underrepresented in Hollywood. Fans have expressed their disappointment with the casting choice on social media and also shared how important it is for dark-skinned Black girls to see themselves represented on screen.
Fans are disappointed by the casting of Jessi Ramsey
“Enjoyed the show, appreciated the attempt at diversity. However, where were the darker-skinned Black girls? The original Jessi had a darker complexion. The first person who looked anything close to me was the nurse from the camp episode. Not all Black girls have long curly hair. Bring on the kinky curls and skin of caramel and chocolate. Hopefully, in season 2 there is better representation. But again, appreciative of the attempt,” one fan of The Baby-Sitters Club wrote.
“Just watched the whole first season, was a big fan of the books when I was young. I’m disappointed I didn’t see Jessi as a representation for a Black dark skin girl,” yet another person chimed in after viewing The Baby-Sitters Club. “Right, I loved everything up until that point once they introduced her as Jessi my face fell,” another person added.
Viewers push Netflix for more diversity in ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Season 2
Other fans of The Baby-Sitters Club were quick to agree with the aforementioned sentiment. “I agree. I was sad when I saw the Jessi character. I was like ‘Noooo she was darker’. I went back to check one of the books just to make sure I wasn’t trippin’ but no she was darker and that’s what I was expecting. They did so perfectly with every other character, it’s scary. But Jessi I don’t feel so much, so I hope for season 2 they recast her character,” one Instagram user penned. “LITERALLY MY ONLY COMPLAINT,” another person added.
We can understand why some people were let down by the casting of Jessi. Hopefully, Netflix will take these complaints into consideration should The Baby-Sitters Club be renewed for a second season. While we don’t necessarily feel that the opportunity should be taken away from Lee, we do feel that more opportunities need to be given for Black girls with darker skin tones. And while we can’t deny that Netflix is advocating for a diverse cast, there’s always more work to be done.