Baby-Sitters Club Creator Laments Netflix Cancelation As A Loss For Female Audiences

Too-soon Netflix cancelations have hurt before, but few untimely demises have been handled with as much refreshing honesty as "The Baby-Sitters Club." It shouldn't come as a surprise that the creator of a show as empowering and thoughtful as this one has some ideas about the structural problems that led to its cancelation, and that seems to have been the case when Rachel Shukert spoke with Vulture.

"The Baby-Sitters Club" is based on the book series of the same name, by Ann M. Martin. The sweet series followed the misadventures of a group of teen girl babysitters — and, in case you missed that era, the books were once wildly popular. Like, a copy in every classroom, library, and girl of a certain age's bedroom popular. 

Girls' stories matter, period

Shukert is perfectly frank about why that popularity didn't translate on screen. After speaking to Vulture about Netflix's imperfect algorithms–and the pressure of releasing a show around the same time as "Squid Game," the showrunner spoke about the ways female-coded stories and male-coded stories are received differently:

"I think female audiences are trained to not take their own stories as seriously. Stuff men were obsessed with when they were 9 is treated like Hamlet. How many Spider-Man movies are there? How many Star Wars? They tell it over and over again from different perspectives. That's all fine, obviously. But what if someone treated something for girls that seriously? Even with a fraction of the money."

This is the sort of insight that's so accurate, yet so rarely put into words, that it's all I can do not to slow clap. It also makes me want to imagine what the world would look like if the properties women are nostalgic for were nearly as publicly treasured as the ones that men value. If that were the case, we'd not only have several more well-deserved seasons of "The Baby-Sitters Club," but also a "Twilight" cinematic universe, a gritty "Little House on the Prairie" reboot, and so much more. Hey, at least we've got a CW-ified "Sweet Valley High" in the works.

Shukert also touches upon how stories like Pixar's "Turning Red" fill a valuable gap in media made for girls, saying that without properties like it and "The Baby-Sitters Club," "girls are expected to go straight from 'Doc McStuffins' to 'Euphoria.'" The showrunner points out that when they are shown on screen, stories about that pivotal period in a girl's life often feel more like hindsight rather than authentic, present storytelling.

"What we could do with 'The Baby-Sitters Club' was make the girls as smart and interesting and mature as girls are without making it all about how other people see them," Shukert says. "It's about how they see themselves." And fans of the show are grateful for it. 

Both seasons of "The Baby-Sitters Club" are available to stream on Netflix.