Famous Friendships: The BSC!

If you’ve gotten to know me through my last 12 posts, you’ve probably come to learn that I’m a huge nerd (in the most lovable way, of course). If you’ve known me forever and read these posts because you are both fascinated by my every written word and you want to support everything I do, well then you’ve likely known about my nerdiness for some time. Either way, it won’t surprise you that when I read that Scholastic is bringing back The Babysitter’s Club next month, I was elated. The famed Ann M. Martin will be writing a prequel—The Summer Before will trace the lives of the inaugural BSC members, well, the summer before—and the publisher will be bringing back the first two volumes of the series, which, in its 14-year run had 213 titles total (if you count the Super Specials, Kristy’s Little Sister books, et al).  I’m a bit worried that bringing back only the first two won’t be enough to get kids hooked—early set-up novels are never the best in a series, which is why I still get crazy when someone tells me they started reading Harry Potter but couldn’t get through it. That invariably means they’ve only read the first two—but it’s a start. Books #3-5 are scheduled for re-issue later next year.

There was a time when I collected all of these books. I can still picture them lined up, in numerical order, in the upper left section of my childhood bookshelf. Then, like all stupid kids, I told my mom it would be fine to get rid of them. I was too old for kid books, anyway. Until I wasn’t, and I went searching in Barnes & Noble, only to find that they were out of print.

The Babysitter’s Club is one of the earliest examples of pop culture completely skewing my expectations of friendship. I read the stories of Kristy, Mary Ann, Stacey, Claudia and related to each of them—Kristy’s a tomboy! Mary Ann’s shy! Claudia loves candy!—and thought there was absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t host my own BSC. Why shouldn’t my BFFs come over every other day for half an hour? And of course we should start a small business. And sure there would be fights but everything would get worked out in about 200 pages.

The BSC was a fearsome foursome long before anyone had ever heard of Carrie Bradshaw and her merry band of horny pals (until California girl Dawn came along and they became a fivesome. And then came the alternate officers…) Over the course of the series, and the Disney Channel show (whose theme song is currently playing on repeat in my head), and the movie, I developed an expectation of what friendship should be. In my youth, that expectation was reinforced by Blossom and Six, Beaches, Sweet Valley High, Kate and Allie, even Cory and Shawn (yes they were boys, but they were BFFs of the highest order). I didn’t just want but I expected to have that one friend with whom I was attached at the hip. I’m only half-embarrassed to admit  I vividly recall the trip my elementary school BFF and I took to the mall to buy “Blossom hats” and fight over who got to be Six (Jenna Von Oy was so much cooler than Mayim).

Cultural models of relationships start early. Even when we’re young, it’s impossible to avoid outside influences on how our families should behave (like the Huxtables, of course, or the Von Trapps), what our parent’s marriages should look like (like the Huxtables, of course, or the Von Trapps), or what our friendships should entail.

Did any pop culture BFFs give you unrealistic expectations of friendship? Are there TV or movie friendships that you once tried to emulate? Clearly someone out there still yearns to go to Central Perk. Do tell!

28 Comments

Filed under Everything I Know I Learned on TV, Famous Friendships

28 responses to “Famous Friendships: The BSC!

  1. My daughter read all the BSC books and LOVED them. When I read her your post, her first word was “Yay!” Kids are going to love them, especially for young girls where it’s so relatable to their lives, esp compared to the vampire stuff out there now. This series seems to celebrate all the different passions and interests (art, sports) of the characters, always a good thing!

  2. I love this.
    I remember the BSC well. Sweet Valley High was also a big part of my growing up. There are so many books from that era that really shaped how I think and feel – hard to say specifically re: friendship but I know that is part of it.
    Beaches. It still makes me bawl to hear songs from that. Now THAT was a friendship, no?

  3. beckybelle

    Hi – love your blog, mainly because I am in the same situation! I live in the Chicago suburbs, moved here 8 years ago, and have found it SO hard to meet girl-friends. It seems most of the women I meet already have their tight circle, and while they are friendly, have no room for anyone joining. Anyway – yay! on the BSC being reprinted. But you are right – most of the books read during childhood have an emphasis on LIFE! LONG! FRIENDS! Loved the Trixie Belden series and Nancy Drew. But again, they all had their close friends. I grew up a military brat, and it was hard – books WERE my best friends, because every three years was meeting a new group of people (went to five different elementary schools). While I have close friends, there isn’t anyone but my sister (lives in CO) who can say, “Remember when…” from any length of time growing up. So yes, reading BSC, watching “Friends,” even the Harry Potter series, it’s a kind of longing to belong and figuring out where your place is!

  4. Jennifer H.

    I adore the BSC! I owned the first 70, along with all the Supers! I too allowed my mom to give them away and regretted it a few years later when I had the urge to lose myself back in them. Every aspect of my life in school was based off these girls. I looked for a Mallory and Jessie, Stacie and Kristie and Mary Ann for friends. It made me realize that I wanted to live in a small community with lots of trees and friends a short walk away. I grew up in So Cal, all concrete and a new BFF every day. These books showed me what a real friendship can be! I was so disappointed when they discontinued the series but now that their bringing it back I will definitely be purchasing them for the young daughters of my friends. I will be able to tell them that because of these books I am friends with their mothers. I moved to a small town 2 years ago. Maybe it seems juvenile but it was all on the premise that I could, and my children could, live somewhere where people were friendly and cared and where lasting relationships were the norm, not the exception! Even if it’s just for school years, it’s not a new friend every 5 min!

  5. Okay, you and I had the same childhood. BSC, Blossom and Beaches. The trifecta.

    I’ve never really thought about this before, but now that I am, I think that pop cultural depictions of female friendships have been largely positive, in stark contrast to the myriad of not-so-positive depictions of male/female relationships (wherein the girl becomes an eye batting idiot when the object of her affection enters the room). I want my daughter to read these books and see these movies and TV shows because they show the power of a strong female friendship. Granted, it might be unrealistic to hope for such a BFF (I never had one, not like CeCe Bloom, at least), but still. I don’t think it’s so bad to believe that that type of friendship is possible.

  6. Katie G

    I think every tv show I’ve ever loved has given me some unrealistic, or at the time I hoped they were realistic, expectations of friendship. Take Roswell for example. I know it’s nerdy (I own all three seasons on DVD). The Roswell series ends where all SEVEN best friends run away together because a few are in trouble, but they can’t stand to be apart. I also put a high value on loyalty, and it’s tough to find someone who thinks the same way.

  7. gail

    this made me think of all the friendships on tv and all those tests that you take to see if you are mary or rhoda, rose or blanche, carrie or miranda etc……..not to mention lucy or ethel!

  8. Alex

    I want to be the friends on “How I Met Your Mother”!! And be able to hang out at a bar every night… and rush off on escapades with my friends at all times of day… because none of us, even the lawyer, have serious enough jobs to prevent us from doing so.

    I think media gives us unrealistic expectations of all aspects of our life, including friendships, definitely including romantic relationships. Maria & Captain Von Trapp f-ed up all of us.

  9. I LOVED the BSC. So much. And I loved Anne of Green Gables and her friendship with Diana, and Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden, and oh, so many other great series starring girls.

    I had some good friends when I was a kid, but my best friends in high school were all boys (go figure). And yes, I do still yearn to go hang out at Central Perk, or a similar place, with friends as cool as the Friends gang.

  10. Every time I ride The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland I remember the Super Special where the BSC goes on a Disney Cruise and someone thought the hitchhiking ghost was real…How long ago did I read these? Twenty years? I can’t remember my second kid’s first word, but I can remember that scene? The brain kills me.

  11. I loved the babysitter’s little sister series!

    Yes, there are TV shows I definitely look to for friendship models… Friends being the obvious choice & my favorite show, but also Sex & the City and older shows from my childhood. But, I don’t really think they’re negative or unrealistic.

  12. I found your blog via Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project” and made it all the way down to this post before deciding to comment. I’m a little further down the road in a similar project to yours – I moved to a new city for marriage about three years ago, and it’s really only in the last year or so that I’ve made friends that I comfortable with one-on-one – you know, instead of the group of friends, where they all know each other and you’re the new one – I can actually call just one up and not worry that she’s thinking, “But what about [the friend I met her through]?”
    I missed out of BSC (I’m guessing I’m older than you), but I did love “Kate & Allie” and Trixie Beldin. Perhaps it’s my age, or that I didn’t marry until my mid-thirties, but I identify most closely with the ladies from “Sex & the City.” Even with my childhood friends (with whom I struggle mightily to stay in touch), we have SATC-esque trials and tribulations – babies and who can and can’t have them, jobs and how they affect our relationships, men and how we still let them drive us nuts…
    All this rambling – mainly to say – I look forward to reading your blog and good luck with your search!

  13. Amy

    I just came to your blog (referred by the great Gretchen of the Happiness Project). I LOVED the Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High and Anne of Green Gables. In fact, I’ve been rereading my childhood favorites (and some new Young Adult – love Carolyn Mackler) right now.

    Hooray for the return of Christy, Claudia Mary Anne!

  14. Niki

    Yes! I absolutely adored the BSC and wanted to start my own BSC. But if everyone relates so well to this, how did I not have my own BSC? Then Sweet Valley High, then Friends, then Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And now, after moving across the country a couple years ago, I met and moved in with my now fiance. We’ve been trying to find and keep friends but it’s really hard to do as adults. We’ve even said to each other, forlornly, “why can’t we be like Friends?”

  15. Katie

    I went on facebook for the first time in awhile and saw your blog. Now I am reading all your back entries. It’s great, congrats! And, I was totally Six and had the best hat. (Did we ever wear those hats?!) And also, didn’t we have our own babysitter’s club, without any babysitting, of course? Ok, this is my first blog comment ever and I don’t think it is supposed to be a personal email so I will stop now. Good luck with everything!

  16. I wonder what the BSC girls would be like now … Still just as close?Mere acquaintances? Facebook friends only?? I love the idea of rereading the old books (oh, Mary Ann and Logan!), but I’d also love it if someone wrote about their current lives and friendships!

  17. Pingback: Ann M. Martin’s Infinite Wisdom « MWF Seeking BFF

  18. Michelle

    Hello

    The BSC books were a huge part of my childhood and fantastic for any girl growing up. Its brilliant to see that they are being relaunched.

    I have the collection for sale if anyone is interested, please email me or leave a message thanks

    michelle

  19. Laura

    I LOVED the BSC! I wanted to Stacey (minus the diabetes) and totally tried to form my own BSC. (I was a little too Kristy and my “employees” didn’t have a solid commitment.) I might have some old books at my mom’s house. I foresee a hunt next time I visit.

    My pop culture BFF fantasy was Anne Shirley and Diana Barry of Anne of Green Gables. I wanted a bosom friend so much. (And a boy that pulled my hair and called me Carrots—even though I’m not a redhead.)

  20. Sam

    I am reading this blog for the first time and in love! I relate to the BSC references and Blossom ones all too well. I’ve found that when things get tough, despite how many things have changed over the years, I always go back to my old girlfriends. Perhaps it is because many of us live in Minneapolis where we were born and raised. Or maybe it is because we were lucky enough to find incredible friends in one another and keep coming back to one another for more even after long periods of time living separate lives. I think the BSC girls would definitely be more than Facebook friends.

  21. Emily

    Ok, so I never got into BSC, but I was a total Saved by the Bell fan (I even read all the SBTB books)! What girl didn’t want to be Kelly and have two guys fight over you?

    Other celebrity BFF influences for me include Cory and Shawn, The Dawson’s Creek gang, the ladies of Steel Magnolias, D.J. Tanner and Kimmy Gibbler, the gang in St. Elmo’s Fire, the Pink Ladies (and the T-Birds for that matter), 90210, Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, and Selma Blair in The Sweetest Thing. There’s more I’m sure, but that’s all I got right now.

    Just beginning to read your blog, but you had me at “MWF Seeking BFF!”

  22. Pingback: No Such Thing As New Old Friends | MWF Seeking BFF

  23. I just found your blog and liked it so much I dedcided to start reading from the beginning! (The hallmark of a great blog I’d say)
    I LOVED the BSC. I too decided I needed to start my own BSC but none of my friends thought it would work. So I did it on my own and even had a “kid’s kit!”.
    Oh, and a few dates in, my then-boyfriend/now-husband sheepishly told me he really liked the BSC and he got up to about book 60. Bahahahaha!! So cute. : )

  24. Pingback: The Debutante Ball » Blog Archive » Deb Rachel is a Kristy (But She Wanted To Be a Stacey)

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