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!