• Netflix's new 'Baby-Sitters Club' series is being praised for its inclusive characters and casting. (Netflix)Source: Netflix
"New Baby-Sitters Club said trans rights and my heart melted."
By
SBS staff writers

22 Jul 2020 - 3:25 PM  UPDATED 22 Jul 2020 - 3:25 PM

Netflix's re-imagining of The Baby-Sitters Club is winning over a new generation of fans around the world, with the popular 90's young adult books being brought to life and recontextualised with diverse characters, casting, and stories. 

While the show still features the adventures of Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace), Mary-Anne Spier (Malia Baker), Claudia Kishi (Momona Tamada), Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph), and Dawn Schafer (Xochitl Gomez), these adventures now explore topics such as being raised by single parents and living with diabetes, as well as what it's like being Japanese American in 2020 America.

In one scene, there's a quick shot of a pile of shoes outside the front door of Claudia’s house (Claudia is Japanese American), which the show’s executive producer Naia Cucukov fought to have included.

“The first time I saw that shot, I just burst out into tears," Cucukov told NBC.

"I know to some people it's just a throwaway shot but it was so important, and it just made me feel so seen."

Members of the LGBTIQ+ community have also been loving the series, with one particular episode - Mary-Anne Saves the Day - being praised for its inclusion of a young trans character, played by 10-year-old trans actor Kai Shappley.

In the episode, Mary-Anne is looking after Bailey (Shappley), a trans child who needs to go to hospital after coming down with a fever.

"I really wanted to include this character from the beginning," series showrunner Rachel Shukert told NewNowNext.

"I often feel like The Baby-Sitters Club is so much about inclusivity, and always was, and I don’t want anyone to watch the show and not see themselves included in it," she continued.

"I think to see that trans people, and queer people, and all these people are just part of the fabric of the community, they’re just there. There’s no invisibility by omission."

Shukert added that the episode was "based very much on a story from the books" but was tweaked to include Bailey being trans.

"The story is very much beat for beat the same story; the only difference that we made is that we tweaked one character," she said. "And it then became meaningful on this whole other level - that part of getting appropriate medical care for this child is protecting her in that moment, and making sure that she’s not misgendered, and making sure that she has everything she needs to feel emotionally safe and supported in that moment."

You can hear more from 10-year-old Kai, who plays Bailey, below:

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