Back in the day, when we spent many a summer afternoon curled up on our inflatable chairs reading worn copies of Ann M. Martin's Baby-Sitter's Club books, we had no idea something called Netflix would one day stream a TV adaption of the beloved series. Yet, today, here we are, with all 10 episodes of the 2020 on-screen take of The Baby-Sitters' Club cued up for a trip down memory lane. It's not just the new Netflix show's storylines that will transport you back to those days of dog-earing pages of the BSC books to later break down with your best friend over your family's landline. It's also the series' expertly designed sets and skillfully scouted locations.
Lucia Aniello, one of the show's executive producers and director, tells Refinery29 the sense of 90s nostalgia that threads through the series was very much intentional. Ahead, she shares how the production design team balanced that nostalgic look with a more modern aesthetic and how they built the fictional suburban town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut that BSC fans remember so fondly.
Refinery29: Did the show's production design team use that 90s aesthetic as inspiration for the sets, specifically the girls' bedrooms? How was that aesthetic incorporated into a modern teen bedroom aesthetic?
Lucia Aniello: We definitely wanted there to be a bit of a 90s glaze over the whole show but not in a way that felt forced or unnatural in 2020. But luckily since so much of pop culture right now is 90s pastiche, it wasn't super hard to find organic ways to integrate furniture and texture that felt like a throwback, yet was current.
Did you incorporate any modern interior design trends into the sets?
Each girl's bedroom had so much behind it beyond just looking cool: Mary Anne's room design is fully dictated by having an overbearing, strict father, so that motivated that room. Claudia is an artist who uses every medium to express herself, so her room needed to be a hybrid meeting spot/art studio/costume warehouse/candy storage space. Stacey keeps things chic and contemporary, so hers was maybe the most straightforward — if she could've afforded an Ettore Sottsass Ultrafragola mirror she would've had it. Dawn's room is just an extension of her activism: space for markers for signs, etc.
We noticed the use of that iconic clear telephone in the show's trailer. How did the team come up with the idea to feature that? Can viewers expect to see any other throwback set pieces?
That was always something that we felt was too iconic to not use. What is old is new again! There was also a rad chair that had a hiding place for Claudia's candy that probably was in Ann M. Martin's imagination even if it wasn't on the page.
For us Baby-Sitters Club fans, the fictional suburban town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut is legendary. How did the production team go about building the world of that fictional town?
We shot in Vancouver, and the biggest thing was finding a street that felt like Bradford Court (where most of the main cast lived). We wanted it to have "New England realness" but also feel like it had a good variety of houses since canonically Kristy lives in a smaller house and Mary Anne and Claudia in slightly nicer houses. We tried to keep all the streets and intersections accurate as well, using a Stoneybrook map. The little things!
Do you have a favorite set-piece that viewers may not have noticed?
Our genius production designer Tink made this really rad collage of Starburst wrappers in the shape of butterflies that are on Claudia's wall that I'm not sure you ever see in its totality. So many crew members put in so much extra time and love into this show and I think it shows.
What was the biggest set design challenge your team faced?
Probably Claudia's room. Because so many people who worked on the show were mega fans of the books, everyone had a slightly different vision in their heads for what it should look like. Plus, shooting (at least) five people in a room meant that coverage-wise you wanted it to not feel boring no matter where you were looking, yet you didn't want it to feel chaotic or for the girls to get lost in a crazy clown-ish looking space. We spent so much time in that room! But I'm happy with how it looks and shoots.