‘The Claudia Kishi Club’ Netflix Doc Highlights Importance of ‘Baby-Sitters Club’ Representation
The Baby-Sitters Club, for those who grew up mainlining the iconic children’s’ book series or those who didn’t, is a more-than-worthy addition to your Netflix queue. Over 10 episodes, we follow the adventures of four young girls who have joined forces to start a baby-sitting club — while growing up and coming of age along the way. It’s smart, funny, sincere, and a delight. And one of its main characters, Claudia Kishi (played by Momona Tamada in the series), has been an important figure of representation for young girls since the inception of the novels in 1986. Now, Claudia herself gets her due praise in a new Netflix documentary short: The Claudia Kishi Club.
Directed by Sue Ding, and originally scheduled to play at the 2020 SXSW festival, the short gets into how important it was to read Claudia Kishi’s adventures at a young age. A Japanese-American character, she represented that culture in positive, aspirational ways most media at the time was not interested in. Ding interviews artists, creators, and thinkers like BSC executive producer Naia Cucukov, BSC graphic novel artist Gale Galligan, YA superhero authors Sarah Kuhn and CB Lee, comic book artist Yumi Sakugawa, and Phil Yu, aka Angry Asian Man. The trailer looks wholesome and inspiring, revealing just how important it is that our pop culture presents stories for all of its consumers, and how bright our future looks if we all keep working toward that goal.
For many Asian American women—and other women of color—Claudia Kishi was the first time they saw themselves in popular media. A main character in the best-selling Baby-Sitters Club books, Claudia defied stereotypical portrayals of Asian characters: she was creative, popular, and bad at school. As a blossoming artist, she was a role model for aspiring young creators—many of whom are now making groundbreaking work of their own. Asian American artists and writers share their memories of Claudia and read from their favorite books, alongside stop-motion collages that bring the character to life. Nostalgic yet timely, this film highlights the personal and universal importance of representation.