The weirdness of the BSC universe

If you’ve been following me on this blog or elsewhere, then you probably know that I recently finished reading the entire Baby-Sitters Club series. I’ve been trying to maintain some semblance of chronological order, mainly trying to stay within the same big storylines of the series. Think Dawn moving to California, Stacey starting to date someone else, etc.

But some things about the BSC universe are just… odd. I’m not talking about the characters and how a bunch of 13-year-olds are allowed to stay out later than I ever was, not to mention have the responsibility of supervising young children without adults present. I’m talking about the weird, niggling inconsistencies in the BSC universe that make no sense at all. Here are a few of them.

Watson Brewer’s wealth. Stoneybrook is located in Fairfield County, Connecticut, one of the most affluent and educated counties in the nation. Almost all the fathers whose occupations are mentioned work in law or finance (Mr. Kishi), occupations of moderate wealth. Oddly, almost no one in the series thinks of their family as rich, even though they do think of Watson Brewer as wealthy. I guess when you live in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, being the CEO of an insurance company is what cuts it for being rich. But this doesn’t explain the full mystery. It’s mentioned several times, mostly in the Little Sister books, that Watson grew up in the mansion he lives in now. This probably means the land has been in the family for awhile or his father was also well off. (I also assume Watson’s father is dead because he’d probably at least be mentioned, but that’s another story.)

Just how big is Stoneybrook, anyway? For a sleepy Connecticut town, Stoneybrook seems to have an awful lot of resources. Take the schools for starters: public elementary, middle, and high school, at least two private schools, a community college, and a university. (Although the last two could be used interchangeably.) There’s also Kelsey Middle School, the public school Kristy’s neighborhood is assigned to, where the Thomases have to pay a fee to keep Kristy in SMS. Yet later in the series, Kristy takes the bus home from SMS. Isn’t this reserved only for people living in the school district? While it’s possible Kristy’s neighborhood was rezoned to SMS between seventh grade and the first of many eighth grades, it’s also unlikely. Side note: this zoning issue is glossed over when Abby moves in two houses down from Kristy’s house.

Shannon is smart, but what about the others? Shannon’s character traits in the series include being smart and blonde. Yet Stacey is always mentioned as being good at math (a trait I appreciate since she’s not portrayed as a typical nerd), Kristy talks about getting her usual straight A’s occasionally, and Mallory’s straight-A record is a plot point in Don’t Give Up, Mallory. I doubt they’re the only ones who get good grades; Mary Anne in particular seems like a good candidate for strong academic performance. One explanation, like that of the Brewer mystery, is that most of the BSC (Claudia aside, obviously) does well in school, but Shannon goes beyond just being smart and participates in a lot of school activities on top of being smart, which therefore makes her more known for being smart (kind of the way I was known for being smart in school).

Housing inconsistencies. Oh, housing. Mary Anne’s old house on Bradford Court likely has three bedrooms, as it’s mentioned that Mary Anne and Dawn would have to share a room when Jeff visits. But when the Hobarts and their four boys move into Mary Anne’s old house, there’s no mention of any of the boys sharing rooms that I recall. Did they add on to Mary Anne’s old house? Is the house bigger on the inside? We may never know. Stacey’s old house experiences something similar when Jessi’s family moves in (and later, Aunt Cecelia). Did the McGills have that many spare rooms? There’s no mention of any the Ramsey children sharing a room. Conclusion: Stoneybrook houses are TARDISes.

Housing inconsistencies, part two: Who lives where in Kristy’s neighborhood? Which families live in which houses on McLelland Road turns out to be an inconsistent adventure in the series. Morbidda Destiny (or Mrs. Porter) lives next door to the Thomas-Brewers. When the Stevensons move in, they live two houses down from the Thomas-Brewers. Do they also happen to live next door to Mrs. Porter? I don’t remember if this is ever mentioned; if you know, please let me know. There’s also the inconsistency in who lives across the street from the Thomas-Brewers. Hannie is often mentioned as living across the street and one house down from Karen in the Little Sister books. Both the Delaneys (later the Kormans) and the Kilbournes are described as living across the street from Karen. Not to mention there’s another neighbor of the Kormans mentioned in Mary Anne to the Rescue named Mr. Sinclair. So who lives where? I’m still not sure, to be honest.

Why is New York City such a big deal? Stoneybrook is about an hour from New York City by car, so it’s an easy day trip and an easy commuter trip via train. Karen visits NYC in several of the Little Sister books, and naturally she is excited for each trip. (Come on, she’s seven.) When Ed McGill is transferred to his company’s Connecticut office, the McGills pack up and move to Stoneybrook. This is understandable, given Stacey’s current social situation and not paying Manhattan prices. But why don’t they just stay when Ed is transferred back to New York City? This would have saved the family a move and a house search post-divorce. Heck, Ms. Stevenson made the commute to NYC from Long Island and continued to do so after moving to Stoneybrook. This makes me wonder if any of the other parents made the commute, although I don’t think it’s ever mentioned. (Especially Mr. Kishi, one of the few non-lawyer fathers in the book. How many lawyers does Stoneybrook need, anyway?)

Claudia, Janine, and intelligence. Janine’s IQ is one of her major characteristics in the series, yet she’s using her IQ of 196 for taking community college classes. Setting aside the fact that a 196 IQ is very unlikely to start with, the way Janine is treated throughout the series is a subject of discussion. It’s possible that Claudia exaggerates Janine’s intelligence, as she does with many things, but what about the other characters? If Janine has such a high IQ, then why isn’t she off pursuing some other extracurricular activity? I’d bet that she got teased at least a little bit as a kid, In Claudia’s Book the Kishis send Claudia to an alternative school for awhile. Why did they never do anything similar for Janine, or let her skip a grade or two (like Charlotte Johannsen), or send her to something like CTY or TIP? Janine would probably love programs like these. Now I want a Janine’s Book just to find out if this ever happened.

I’m probably putting way too much thought into many of these things, but I can’t help it; thinking about weird things like this is simply what I do. Even though my hopes aren’t up to getting answers to these questions, I’d welcome any possible explanations.

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