October 14, 2021

Netflix’s BSC 2.6, Dawn and the Wicked Stepsister: Everything Is Just Fine, Fine, Fine

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 7:51 pm by Jenn

The happy family

Summary: Dawn and Mary Anne are really excited to be living together for a week. Like in the book, things start out well, then start to fall apart in small ways, at least for the girls. Mary Anne takes a bunch of closet space for her stuff. She has a scary clown doll. She can’t handle the incense Dawn likes to burn to help her fall asleep. Also, she’s spooked by the secret passageway next to Dawn’s bedroom (not because of ghosts, but because of possums or other creatures that might be carrying rabies).

On top of that, Sharon and Mary Anne are getting along great, and teaming up a little to tease Dawn. Dawn and Richard, however, haven’t found a way to bond yet. Not even over adult coloring books! After Mary Anne freaks out one too many times about the passageway, even setting up one of her traps from Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls in case something creeps through, Dawn realizes that her best friend is annoying to live with.

Mary Anne calls Dawn out for being passive-aggressive and pretending everything is great when she’s unhappy. Dawn gets a little more aggressive, calling Mary Anne a scaredy-cat. To show she’s brave, Mary Anne goes in the passageway. Dawn worries that there’s actually something dangerous in there and follows her. There’s nothing there, but they get locked in. Now Dawn is the scaredy-cat, and also mad that Mary Anne has upended her whole life. She yells that Mary Anne has taken her kindness too far and taken over everything – Dawn’s house, room, and mother.

Mary Anne admits that she can be too much sometimes, but Dawn always acts like that’s fine, so Mary Anne had no idea that it wasn’t. Dawn says that it’s just been her and her mom in Stoneybrook, so having new people in the house is weird. Mary Anne gets that, since she’s used to just living with her dad. Dawn promises that Mary Anne can borrow Sharon whenever she wants. They agree that if their parents get married, they’ll have their own rooms.

Richard tries again to reach out to Dawn with a coloring book, this one with a mindfulness theme. He tells her it helps him when he’s struggling with anxiety and other emotions. Dawn is back to pretending everything’s fine, but Richard knows she just doesn’t have a good way to express herself. For him, naming scary thoughts helps because it takes away their power. Instead of being strong all the time, Dawn might need to admit that she needs someone to be there for her.

Things get better with the living arrangements, and fussy Richard even tries a little hot sauce in his bland meal. A very little. A microscopic amount. He takes a page from Dawn’s book and says everything’s great. Dawn decides that she and Mary Anne will always feel like sisters even if their parents never get married.

In the B plot, Byron hits his head while Mallory and Jessi are sitting for him, and his unexpected medical bill means the Pikes can’t throw Claire the big carnival-themed birthday party she wanted. Enter Kristy: The BSC girls will put on the carnival. And not just because it’s PR damage control over an injury sustained on their watch. They agree to use the money they would normally give in their monthly charitable donation for the party. Mallory thinks they’re nice for helping out, but she doesn’t want them to spend too much money.

Even though most of what the girls put together is low-cost or stuff they already have, Mallory is worried – she doesn’t want to feel like the club’s charity case. The other girls quickly realize that they didn’t frame this the right way. Kristy tells her that part of being in the BSC is showing up for each other. Claudia adds that it’s not charity – it’s friendship.

The details:

  • Vanessa has graduated from speaking in rhyme to reading Nietzsche for Dummies and saying things like, “You can’t control chaos. Chaos controls you.” I don’t know, I think it’s an improvement.
  • This is a kids’ show, so they can’t talk about sex, but during the Spiers’ weeklong sleepover, Richard claims to sleep in the guest room instead of in Sharon’s room. The girls know better.
  • “We are going to have fun,” Kristy announces/orders before Claire’s party. Yes, ma’am.
  • Dawn was supposed to be a clown at the party, but since she’s stuck in the passageway, Kristy fills in. Claire is hilariously unimpressed, but Vanessa says, “You look like a horror movie. Cool.”

The differences/changes:

  • Sharon is the one who tells Dawn about the secret passageway, which was built during Prohibition. Surprisingly, Dawn has nothing to say about the rebellion of that time period or about sticking it to the man.
  • Richard and Sharon don’t seem to have any problems adjusting to living together. I think it’s because she’s so laid-back and he has better coping mechanisms than in the books.

Netflix’s BSC 2.5, Mary Anne and the Great Romance: The Hopeful Romantic

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 5:13 pm by Jenn

Yep, seems about right

Summary: It’s the weekend before Valentine’s Day, and Dawn and Mary Anne are sure that Richard and Sharon are going to come home from a trip to the Berkshires with the announcement that they’re engaged. They don’t. In fact, Richard isn’t even sure how to classify their relationship.

So the “great romance” of the title is actually about Mary Anne and Logan – he’s just asked her to be his girlfriend. It’s a lot different from what she was expecting. Now, “like a pre-Megxit Meghan Markle,” she has girlfriend responsibilities like having lunch in the “couple’s lounge” (just a regular classroom). The other two couples are those ick-inducing joined-at-the-hip, say-things-in-unison types. Plus, her friends think she wants to spend all her free time with Logan, so they accidentally ditch her instead of walking home together. They also make their own plans together for Valentine’s Day and don’t bother to invite Mary Anne, since she’ll obviously be with Logan.

Mary Anne doesn’t want to have to choose between spending time with her boyfriend and her friends, so she decides to let Richard play the bad guy and forbid her from dating. That backfires: With help from some note cards and previous conversations with his therapist, Richard gives her a speech supporting her relationship and assures her that he trusts her.

On Valentine’s Day, Mary Anne and Logan end up at the same restaurant as Richard and Sharon. Mary Anne panics about spending the evening making awkward conversation with Logan, so she suggests a double date. Cue Sharon talking about love languages and Logan guessing that his is English. Also, one of the couples from the “couple’s lounge,” who are supposed to be the most perfect couples at school, breaks up in the restaurant. As first dates go…well, I’ve had worse.

Mary Anne confides to Richard that now that she and Logan are officially together, she feels like they have to be a perfect couple instead of themselves. She misses just being friends with him; they were much more comfortable with each other then. She feels lonely even though she’s in a relationship. Richard tells her it’s okay for her and Logan to just be friends. They just need to talk about it.

Mary Anne worries that Logan will be disappointed, but he’s thrilled that they’re not like the other couples at school. They can just be themselves, and just friends. Mary Anne decides she’s no longer a hopeless romantic, but is now a hopeful romantic, because she tells the people she likes how she feels. She doesn’t let go of it completely, though: When Richard and Sharon say they have an announcement, she gets excited again about a wedding. Sorry, Mary Anne: The Spiers need to fumigate, so Mary Anne and Richard will move in with Dawn and Sharon for a week. Mary Anne decides she’s fine with their family being the way it is, even if they’re not connected by marriage yet.

In other news, Karen is a little obsessed with ghosts. If you ask me, she’s creepier than any ghost. She says she keeps hearing a crying woman in the Thomas/Brewer house, but it’s really Elizabeth, who’s been hiding in a spare bathroom to secretly deal with the side effects of the hormones she’s been taking to try to get pregnant, and her feelings about having another baby. She and Kristy decide to let Karen keep thinking there’s a ghost.

The details:

  • Sharon compares Richard to a croissant he enjoyed: He’s “buttery and surprisingly expensive.”
  • Karen is doing a family tree project and is intrigued by how her ancestors died. One was struck by lightning, “but it was the dysentery that got her.”
  • Andrew is also a weird kid. He watches Wall-E a lot because “he likes the silence of it.” Maybe it’s just a nice break from Karen talking all the time.
  • One of the couples in the “couple’s lounge” consists of two boys. Stoneybrook Middle School says gay rights!
  • Richard tells Mary Anne that her friends love her “in an almost concerningly aggressive fashion.” Sounds like someone’s jealous.
  • Dawn says the person she ends up with “could be anywhere on the gender spectrum.” Her two main qualifications: someone who cares about the environment and has good oral hygiene.

The differences/changes:

  • Really, the whole episode is different from the book of the same name. The only similarity is that Dawn, Mary Anne, Richard, and Sharon will soon be living together.

July 6, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.8, Kristy’s Big Day: Weddings and Other Life-Changing Experiences

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 4:19 pm by Jenn

Claudia’s outfit, like Karen, is a lot

Kristy’s preparing for two big changes in her life – her mother’s wedding and the family’s move across town to Watson’s house – but she gets a third big development out of the blue. The book is more about Elizabeth and Watson’s big day than Kristy’s, but this episode lives up to its title.

Before the big day, though, Kristy has to come to terms with the fact that her family’s life is going to change completely. No more worrying about bills or living in a too-small house. Life with Watson will be all about luxury and ease. The problem is, Kristy isn’t sure that’s what’s best for them. It means leaving behind what they’re used to. She feels like her mother’s joining a new family and might be more excited about that than worrying about how her old family will adjust. Is Elizabeth compromising her ideals for money? She and Kristy have a big fight and don’t make up before the wedding.

Kristy comes around on everything at the wedding. She remembers how her mom was always lonely and worried about money. Now she’s found someone she loves, and she never has to worry about her electricity bill being too high. It’s a small price to pay for Kristy to make the necessary adjustments. Plus, she genuinely likes Watson now, so she knows things will turn out okay. But she struggles to find time after the wedding to tell her mother she’s happy for her.

And then, at the wedding reception, Kristy gets her first period. This girl is having the most insane year of her life. Elizabeth is busy, obviously, but the other BSC girls, who have all had their periods, help her through it. These girls are definitely bonded for life.

Kristy thinks Elizabeth’s leaving for her honeymoon without saying goodbye, but Elizabeth comes back to make sure everything’s okay. She admits to holding Kristy to a higher standard than her brothers, but it’s because she’s so strong. Kristy’s growing up and her life is changing, but she’s still the same Kristy. And probably always will be, I expect.

The details:

  • Elizabeth gets mad at Kristy for ditching the ugly yellow bridesmaid dress she was supposed to wear after Watson tells her she can pick out any dress she wants. (Kristy’s the only bridesmaid, so there’s no issue with matching dresses.) The original dress cost $800 and they can’t get a refund because it’s been altered. I get Elizabeth’s anger over wasting $800, but…who picked out an $800 dress? Not Kristy. Plus, the wedding is at Watson’s house, so they don’t have to pay for a venue, which would have cost a lot of money. Call it even.
  • Morbidda Destiny/Mrs. Porter/Aunt Esme is the wedding officiant but no one warned Karen, who screams when she arrives. Esme announces that Karen thinks she’s a witch, which is true, and goes into this whole thing about spiritual beliefs, like, great, but this is a wedding. However, she wraps it up by saying that adults should believe what children tell them, which is awesome.
  • I also just realized that Mrs. Porter has the same last name as Sharon’s parents in the books, which must be why someone working on the show decided to have them be related. Nice job, whoever that was.
  • Richard and Sharon are nervous about seeing each other for the first time since Richard sent the turtle of reconciliation. Sharon can’t choose an outfit for the wedding, trying to decide between two completely inappropriate dresses. Richard’s version of fussing over his clothes is asking Mary Anne to help him choose between two identical white shirts. As they’re waiting for the wedding to begin, Richard tries to calm his nerves with a small glass of champagne. He’s stuck holding the empty glass and tells Mary Anne, “I don’t know what to do with this.” I love Marc Evan Jackson, and this cracked me up.
  • Richard and Sharon leave the reception to get an Epi-pen from Sharon’s car after she accidentally eats something she’s allergic to. We don’t see them for the rest of the episode. So…they hooked up in the car, right?
  • Karen’s middle name is Amaryllis. Please explain, Watson and ex-Mrs. Brewer.

The differences/changes:

  • Instead of Charlie’s crummy used car (here a 2007 Corolla), Watson gets him a new BMW SUV. Kristy gets to ride to BSC meetings in style. This will also make it easier for Charlie to transport her and her six BFFs everywhere they want to go for the rest of the series.
  • The BSC girls don’t do their big childcare thing like in the book, which makes sense. It would be difficult to deal with that many kids on the set and behind the scenes. Better to do away with that part of the story and focus on Kristy and Elizabeth’s relationship.

Netflix’s BSC 1.7, Boy-Crazy Stacey: Other Fish in the Sea (City)

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:56 pm by Jenn

Sigh. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

It’s time to meet the Pikes! They’re even wilder than the books portray them – basically a step above feral. No wonder Mr. and Mrs. Pike want to bring two sitters with them to Sea City (just for a week, over spring break). They’re probably counting the days until these troublemakers go to college.

The plot mostly plays out the same way it does in the book. Stacey develops a crush on lifeguard Scott, who’s way too old for her, and starts neglecting her sitting duties. The normally mature, cool Stacey has no idea how to act around him. The words “holla at moi” are spoken. Stacey really should leave, put on a disguise, and come back to try again.

Mary Anne befriends Alex and Toby, who are very nice, age-appropriate guys for the girls to hang out with. In fact, when Scott accidentally humiliates Stacey and she realizes he’s way too old for her, it’s Toby who tries to salvage her feelings. He even gives Stacey her first kiss. Of course, now Stacey has a new crush to obsess over, but at least he’s her age.

Mary Anne used to think Stacey was mature and sophisticated, but after Stacey’s embarrassing crush, Mary Anne admits that that’s changed. Now she knows Stacey’s just as dorky as Mary Anne is. Their friendship is stronger because Stacey embarrassed herself. Yay?

The details:

  • Claudia calls Mary Anne and Stacey’s out-of-town sitting job a “business trip.” I love it.
  • Sharon gets back into the dating game with Tinder. Yikes.
  • Dawn wants to Parent Trap Richard and Sharon back together, but she doesn’t try very hard, and Richard’s too smart to fall for it. The parents work things out themselves when Richard, remembering that Sharon used to call him her turtle, sends her a real turtle with a note that says, “Sorry I went back into my shell.” SO CUTE.
  • Mallory barely gets any screentime. She’s very earnest and excited to hang out with Stacey and Mary Anne. You just know the actress playing her is praying for a second season so she can have a bigger role.
  • Byron has a huge crush on Stacey, which helps her understand the situation with Scott. She tells Byron she values his friendship, but there’s no potential for a relationship. Byron decides he can live with that, though he wants a little space.
  • Vanessa’s in her poetry phase, but she seems a little darker than in the books. She and Karen would get along well.
  • Mary Anne’s suddenly more comfortable around boys, so I guess her room makeover did the trick.
  • Watson describes Karen as “a lot.” No kidding.

The differences/changes:

  • Book Scott definitely used Stacey and led her on, but here I interpreted the situation differently. I think he thought her crush on him was cute, and he just paid attention to her to be nice. He didn’t think it would cause any harm. He’s just a clueless teenager.
  • Karen and Andrew do their steel-wool carwash here, and Kristy can’t stop them because she’s accidentally locked herself in a storage area where she was snooping into Watson’s stuff. She tries to get it fixed secretly, after contemplating just pushing it into the street and lying that a car hit it, which is very un-Kristy of her. She finally tells Watson the truth, and he’s not mad. Probably because he’s rich enough to just replace the car.
  • The Pike triplets aren’t identical, which is fine. It couldn’t be easy to cast identical red-haired triplets.

July 5, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.5, Dawn and the Impossible Three: More Like the Impossible Four

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 2:25 pm by Jenn

They’re friends now! It’s all okay!

Like Stacey, Dawn is eager to make friends in Stoneybrook, but she has another obstacle to overcome: Kristy doesn’t like her. She doesn’t think Dawn has enough experience to be in the BSC, and worse, Kristy doesn’t like that Mary Anne might ditch her for her new friend. I don’t think Kristy gets that Dawn is so concerned with making a good impression. But they both think it’s a win-win when Dawn agrees to sit for the Barretts, the clubs’ least manageable clients. Dawn thinks she’ll prove herself, while Kristy thinks she won’t, giving Kristy the excuse to cut Dawn loose.

The Barrett kids are just as wild as in the book, and Mrs. Barrett (here just called Natalie, because in this version of the BSC, they call their clients by their first names, which is so, so wrong) is just as flaky as in the book. Maybe even flakier. She’s more concerned with getting acting jobs than with making sure her kids are taken care of. Dawn cleans the house to try to be nice, but it just makes Natalie expect her to keep up the good work.

When Buddy disappears, just as he does in the book, Dawn doesn’t know what to do. He’d mentioned wanting to play with David Michael, so she considers calling Kristy, but she knows that could make her look irresponsible. She decides it’s more important to make sure Buddy’s safe, so she calls Kristy, who focuses on finding Buddy instead of criticizing Dawn. Buddy turns up just a couple hours later, having been picked up by his father for a swimming lesson. His dad didn’t even know there was a sitter at the house.

The situation helps Dawn and Kristy connect, but not because of Buddy’s disappearance itself. Kristy’s upset that Dawn still has her dad in her life, and that Buddy’s father is in his. Her own father hasn’t contacted his kids in a year and a half. Kristy never lets her feelings about that show, but after Buddy’s disappearance and safe return, she can’t keep it inside anymore. Dawn reminds her that she still has lots of other people in her life who love her, including Dawn herself.

Instead of helping Natalie get her act together, Dawn lets go of the situation. Sharon even tells Natalie not to contact Dawn again until she’s in a better place. And the BSC girls aren’t worried about losing a client. They think Dawn’s mental health is more important than making money. Good for them!

The details:

  • Richard and Sharon are totally in love, and it’s adorable…until Sharon helps Mary Anne (and the BSC girls) redecorate her room. They take down a painting of Humpty Dumpty that’s always been on Mary Anne’s wall, and Richard decides there are too many changes happening. He blames Sharon and the two stop talking. I’m fully invested in this relationship and not at all happy about this development.
  • Instead of just trying to prove herself to Kristy, who questions Dawn’s sitting experience, Dawn sucks up by asking for her guidance. It’s brilliant. It makes Dawn look like she wants to learn, and it makes Kristy feel like she’s imparting wisdom, something she loves to do.

The differences/changes:

  • It’s confirmed – Jeff doesn’t exist.
  • Clearly they changed the order here, since “Kristy’s Big Day” was supposed to be next. It gets pushed to the eighth episode.

July 4, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.4, Mary Anne Saves the Day: The BSC Says LGBT Rights

Posted in TV tagged , , at 3:33 pm by Jenn

Mary Anne is the best

So far, Mary Anne is my favorite character in this version of the BSC. She really embodies the struggles middle-schoolers go through. So many of us can relate to feeling uncomfortable speaking up for ourselves and risking our friends not liking what we have to say.

Mary Anne is forced to branch out on her own after a fight with the BSC girls. It’s not the same as in the book, but it starts the same way, with one of the girls taking a sitting job without offering it around to everyone. In the book, it’s Kristy, but here, it’s Mary Anne. Her father recommended her to a colleague, and when the colleague requests Mary Anne as the sitter, Mary Anne is too shy to say no. Her friends angrily tell her she needs to learn to stand up for herself.

Mary Anne tells her father about the fight, but he takes it the wrong way. He feels like the other girls were bullying his daughter. He complains to their parents and the three other girls all get in trouble. That makes them madder at Mary Anne, who finds herself without friends to eat lunch with. Enter Dawn. She doesn’t mind Mary Anne’s shyness; she acknowledges that it’s just part of who Mary Anne is. Mary Anne quickly feels comfortable with her.

The big Jenny emergency from the book is similar here, and emboldens Mary Anne to ask her father for changes like in the book, but in a very different way. Here, Jenny Prezzioso is Bailey Delvecchio, and Mary Anne discovers while sitting for her that she’s transgender. She basically has no reaction to the realization, but later she discusses it with Dawn. Dawn uses a great analogy to explain why it’s important to affirm trans people’s identities: If you’re right-handed, you wouldn’t want people to force you to do everything with your left hand. Mary Anne can relate because she feels like her outside appearance, cultivated by her father to make her look like a little girl, doesn’t match how she feels inside.

As in the book, Bailey gets sick and Mary Anne has to decide on her own what to do. She gets Bailey to the hospital, a bold move in itself for Mary Anne, but her big moment isn’t over. The doctor and nurse who come to tend to Bailey misgender her. Mary Anne senses that Bailey’s upset, so she pulls the doctor and nurse out of the room and tells them to treat Bailey with respect. They listen. Richard overhears and realizes that being in the BSC has made Mary Anne into a more independent, mature person.

The details:

  • We know very little about Mary Anne’s mother from the books, but Mimi and Richard both talk about her a little in this episode. She was a lawyer and was also advocating for others and speaking her mind. This gets Mary Anne thinking about the person she wants to be.
  • Richard is less strict in this episode, and more…well, Kevin from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, also played by Marc Evan Jackson. He explains that he’s only ever put Mary Anne’s hair in braids because it’s the only hairstyle her mother taught him to do. It’s unspoken, but you might interpret this as him saying he doesn’t know how to do her hair because he’s white and she’s biracial, so her hair isn’t the same as white kids’ (which is why he didn’t ask, say, Kristy’s mother for help; she wouldn’t know how to style Mary Anne’s hair, either).

The differences/changes:

  • Dawn is Latina, and her parents divorced because her father came out. She seems fine with it. She’s really friendly and likable here.
  • Mrs. Porter/Morbidda Destiny, Watson’s neighbor whom Karen thinks is a witch, is Dawn’s mom’s aunt. She actually is a witch, but more in the spiritual sense than Karen gets. Dawn and Sharon take Mary Anne to a spiritual gathering at her house.
  • Richard tells Mary Anne to invite Dawn and her mother over for Thanksgiving, which is when Sharon and Richard reunite for the first time in years, and their daughters learn that they used to date.
  • Jeff either doesn’t exist or stayed in California.

July 3, 2020

Netflix’s BSC 1.2, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls: The Calls Are Claudia’s Inner Demons, and They’re Definitely Inside the House

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 2:49 pm by Jenn

They’re so cute together

The second episode veers away from the book a lot. The phantom caller is really a B-plot – there’s discussion of a possible burglar who makes calls from inside your house, but he’s more of an urban legend than a real threat. Kristy’s the only one who gets calls from an unknown number…but it turns out to be Mary Anne using an old phone.

The main plot is that Claudia is interested in Trevor and wants to go to the Halloween Hop with him. She has a math test coming up, and her parents agree to a suggestion Janine makes that she only be allowed to go to the dance if she passes the test. She fails, but Stacey lets Claudia pass off her 95% as her own. Claudia’s guilt gets the better of her and she comes clean, which means she has to skip the dance, but her parents are at least somewhat understanding about how their expectations hurt her. Claudia feels like she’s good at a lot of things, and she shouldn’t be so pressured into being good at school. Sadly, Claudia’s impressive homemade Tippi-Hedren-in-The-Birds costume goes to waste.

The details:

  • The Kishis and Mary Anne’s dad (Marc Evan Jackson, perfectly cast as always) are exactly like they are in the books. Richard is especially strict. His demeanor affects Mary Anne much more here than in the books.
  • Trevor gets more development than in the books. He’s an artist like Claudia, but he struggles to live up to his famous father’s expectations about his art. He’s very sweet, especially for a 12-year-old boy.
  • Claudia says Janine likes to correct people’s grammar on Reddit. What a perfect detail.
  • Even in the era of cell phones, Kristy and Mary Anne still communicate with flashlights through their windows.

The differences/changes:

  • Kristy finally sits for Karen and Andrew here, but instead of changing her attitude toward Watson, she just warms up to Karen.
  • Instead of a hyper-talkative brat, Karen is a macabre kid who looks like she could be a Victorian ghost in a horror movie. When Kristy’s sitting for her, she holds a wake for a doll. No prayers – “Krakatoa was an atheist.”
  • There’s no Alan, and Kristy doesn’t threaten violence against any children.
  • Charlotte’s mom, a doctor in the books, is the middle school art teacher. (Oops, I screwed this up. Clearly the one who isn’t the art teacher is the doctor.) She’s also in an interracial same-sex relationship. I think if the show does another season and they bring in Jessi, her adjustment to life in Stoneybrook will be a lot easier than in the books.

January 21, 2014

BSC #131, The Fire at Mary Anne’s House: Say Goodbye to Stoneybrook

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 4:58 pm by Jenn

If I saw my house like this, I would lose my mind

If I saw my house like this, I would lose my mind

Summary: It’s summer yet again, and Mary Anne is happy for some time to relax. It’s all sitting, sitting, sitting with the BSC girls, plus the possibility of entering a magazine contest looking for the best babysitter. The girls decide to enter as a group, which is good, because otherwise this book might be filled with fighting over which one of them is the best.

Then suddenly things go south. Mary Anne, Richard, and Sharon are woken up in the middle of the night by smoke alarms (and Tigger, who apparently is just as good at saving people as Lassie is). Their house is pretty well destroyed by a fire, and all their stuff is gone. Mary Anne is in so much shock that she can’t even cry. Now she has no idea what will come next in her life – she has no home or belongings, and just feels lost.

The BSC girls and tons of people in Stoneybrook pitch in to help the family. The Thomas/Brewers let them stay at their house, and they’re provided with clothes and other essentials. Everyone spends a lot of time going through the wreckage at the house to find anything that can be salvaged (there isn’t much). Then Richard drops a bomb on Mary Anne: He’s been offered a job in Philadelphia and is considering accepting it. Also, Sharon wants to go back to school so she can have a career change, and since there are more schools to choose from in Philly, she’s up for the move.

Now Mary Anne feels even more lost. She’s lived in Stoneybrook her whole life, and leaving would mean losing the BSC and all her friends. Dawn tries to sympathize, since she also lost one of her homes, but Mary Anne has a hard time connecting with her because Dawn does still have a house to go back to in California.

One night Mary Anne sneaks out and goes over to her old house, where everything catches up with her and she finally cries. Dawn finds her there and comforts her. Mary Anne realizes that her life might change completely, but she still has the people she loves.

In the B plot, the kids of Stoneybrook help the BSC girls put together their entry for the best-babysitter contest. Nothing comes of it, but obviously the BSC would win this.

Thoughts: Even though it’s summertime, Mallory’s still banished, with the explanation that her boarding school lets out later than SMS. The ghostwriters really hated her, didn’t they?

Little Archie Rodowsky is worried that the fire at Mary Anne’s is still going. Aw, poor Archie.

David Michael, Karen, and Andrew make a big Lego building and tell Mary Anne it’s her new house. That’s flipping adorable.

So here we are, at the end of the series. It feels weird. I can see why it ended – there wasn’t much left for the characters to do, and they wanted to take it in a bit of a different direction, with the Friends Forever series. So say goodbye to the BSC (at least until I can recap the movie), because it’s about to get a lot Sweet Valleyer up in here.

March 6, 2013

BSC #114, The Secret Life of Mary Anne Spier: Me, My Elf, and I

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:18 pm by Jenn

Wouldn't that head freak out the kids?

Wouldn’t that head freak out the kids?

Summary: It’s Christmas! Again! Mary Anne spends a ton of money on presents, which she can only do because her father lets her use his credit card, on the promise that she’ll pay back whatever she spends. She goes way overboard. I mean, I wouldn’t spend this amount of money, and I have an actual job, one that doesn’t require changing diapers for $4 an hour. Anyway, Mary Anne knows she won’t be able to make the money she needs by babysitting. She also only has two weeks to make it since that’s when Richard will be paying his bill, and he plans to charge interest.

Mary Anne learns that Winter World at the mall is hiring, so she goes to apply for a job. Yes, I know she’s only 13. Yes, I know Stoneybrook has a lax view of child labor. But before anyone can call BS, Mary Anne chats with another girl (Angela) who’s applying for a job, and is advised to say she’s 16. Mary Anne decides she doesn’t want to lie, but Angela turns in her application anyway. Both of them get hired to be Santa’s elves and wear hideous costumes. Mary Anne decides not to tell anyone about her job, since a) she lied to get it and b) it’s embarrassing.

Of course, Mary Anne is awesome at her job, and the kids love her, blah blah blah, but she keeps getting paranoid that someone will recognize her. Even though she’s wearing a giant elf head. Yeah. She also becomes friends with Angela, who it turns out was kicked out by her parents (because of her “lifestyle” – she never gives details on that, but she probably, like, kissed a boy and her parents thought she was “a fast girl”). Angela’s trying to make money to go out to California and live with some friends. Also, her parents are monsters, because at one point she tries to call them collect and they won’t accept the charges.

Basically the book goes on and on with Mary Anne working at the mall and trying to keep her secret. One day Logan and Dawn (oh, yeah, Dawn’s in Stoneybrook for Christmas) show up with Logan’s brother and sister, and Mary Anne practically has a heart attack. Dawn and Logan remain oblivious, but somehow, Logan’s brother Hunter figures out Mary Anne’s an elf. I really have no idea how.

Ultimately the truth comes out because Mary Anne and Dawn have a fight. Dawn has been distant and a little snobby since her arrival in Stoneybrook; her school in California is 8th-12th grades, so she feels all special that she gets to go to school with high schoolers. She suddenly thinks middle schoolers are babies and that she’s all sophisticated and stuff. She’s not. It’s annoying. Mary Anne calls her on it, and Dawn blasts her for being gone all the time and keeping secrets. Mary Anne confesses that she took a job at the mall, and Dawn convinces her to come clean to everyone, including Richard. He wants to punish her, but Sharon points out that it’s Christmas, so he lets it go.

The B-plot is so dumb that at one point it only gets a five-page chapter. The local hospital can’t afford to give toys to the kids hospitalized over Christmas, so Kristy organizes a big Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa extravaganza. People bring toys to a fair, and the BSC girls donate those toys, plus use the proceeds from the fair to buy more.

Thoughts: In this book, Hanukkah comes after Christmas. I don’t think that’s possible.

Richard charging Mary Anne interest seems mean to me. She’s basically just borrowing his money and will pay him back later – why should she have to pay extra? He’s not losing anything.

Kristy wants to use canned-food donations to make refreshments for “Santa-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa Town.” First of all, why Santa and not Christmas? Second of all, that sounds like a Top Chef challenge. Enjoy your tuna and lima bean casserole, everyone!

I guess Winter World doesn’t run background checks on employees, or they would find out Mary Anne’s real age. It’s good to know a program using people around kids is so concerned with their safety.

September 20, 2011

BSC #86, Mary Anne and Camp BSC: Act Your Age

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 11:09 pm by Jenn

Is that Karen on the left? Shut up, Karen

Summary: It’s summertime, and the BSC girls decide to hold a day camp since there are a few weeks between school getting out and other day camps starting. They call it Camp BSC (so original) and decide on a circus theme. Speaking of circuses, that’s what the Schafer/Spier house has turned into: Richard’s out of town for two weeks, and Sharon and Dawn are going overboard in their bachelorette pad. They order in every night, don’t clean up, and basically exemplify the saying, “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.”

Mary Anne is nowhere near as happy as her stepmother and -sister are. She misses her father, to the point where she can’t be bothered to do anything fun. It’s 141 pages of Mary Anne moping, basically. Then she sprains her ankle and mopes some more, mostly because she asks Richard to come home early and he doesn’t.

Alicia, a four-year-old camper, is also moping, as she’s not used to being away from her mother so much. She won’t go to the playground with the other kids because she’s afraid her mother will come back and not be able to find her. Mary Anne’s fine with staying back with her, babying her and letting her do whatever she wants. Eventually, Alicia realizes that everyone’s having fun without her, so she decides to let go of her separation anxiety. Mary Anne realizes that the four-year-old is better adjusted than she is, and she needs to let herself have fun, too.

The not-really-B-plot (because both plots get about equal time) is that Karen and some other kids have gone to a real circus camp, and they keep complaining that Camp BSC isn’t as good. Karen pretty much leads an anti-lameness brigade, and somehow, the BSC girls manage to refrain from locking her in a closet all day. Ultimately, while putting on an end-of-camp circus, the anti-lameness kids realize that they don’t have any idea how to put on a real circus, so they should just shut up.

Thoughts: Mary Anne’s sadness strikes me as a little weird. We know she’s a daddy’s girl, but she’s been away from home before, and she’s usually pretty mature.

I understand leaving your kids with 11- and 13-year-olds for a few hours, but all day? I don’t know about that.

The girls also mention that campers can attend for a full day or a half day, but we don’t hear about anyone only attending for half a day. Why didn’t Alicia’s mom try that out for her until she got more comfortable? Eight hours is a LONG day for a four-year-old.

Sharon really does order take-out every night. I guess the Schafer-Spiers are made of money.

Dawn makes the girls get turkey hot dogs for a camp cookout. So remember, kids, if you hate your dinner, blame Dawn. Who would never eat turkey, so whatever, ghostwriter.

People aren’t sawed in half at circuses, Karen. That’s magic shows. Go sit in the corner.

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