It’s our BSC VP Claudia Kishi’s turn in the hot seat, and while things with the new babysitting business are going smoothly, our artsy fashionista is having some problems at home. The rest of Stoneybrook is in a tizzy about a “phantom caller” home invader calling people from inside their own homes, but Claudia is preoccupied with the “phantom callers” in her mind, telling her she’s not good enough. Someone hug this precious child!
While Claudia may excel in art class, she’s not a great student otherwise, and having an older sister who is an actual genius doesn’t make things any easier on her. Her parents mean well, but they’re more worried about Claudia getting good grades so that she can get into a good college than anything else. Thankfully for her (and for us), she has Mimi, her grandmother. Mimi is the only one in the Kishi house who Claudia feels really understands her. Plus, she calls her “my Claudia” and is always down for boy chat. She’s the best. Unfortunately, not even Mimi can stop the force that is Janine, who takes it upon herself to suggest some parenting techniques over dinner: She thinks her parents should give Claudia some incentive to do better on her next math test. For instance, if she fails, she shouldn’t be allowed to go to the big Halloween dance. Not cool, Janine. Not cool at all.
It’s especially not cool because, hello, the Trevor Sandbourne sort of, kind of asked Claudia to go with him. Okay, so first he said something pretentious about art (we’ll allow him name-dropping Elizabeth Peyton and the Chelsea Hotel because he knows not what he does; his dad is a big-time artist), but he also complimented Claudia’s self-portrait. Then he asked if she was going to the dance because he’s going and they could, you know, see each other there. So, Kristy isn’t technically wrong when she gets frustrated over Claudia fawning over a guy who doesn’t even have the decency to ask her out for real, but you can’t blame Claudia too much — this is new!
When Trevor comes to see Claudia again — he likes her, guys; he really likes her! — and tells Claudia that he could have his dad pick her up and they could go to the dance together, well, Claudia knows she needs to ace that math test. Unfortunately, her all-night studying, her tutoring from math whiz Stacey, and her “super smart” “Ruth Bader Ginsburg chic” outfit do her no good. Claudia fails. Spectacularly.
The only person more upset by this than Claudia is Stacey, who really, really needs her best friend at the dance. She doesn’t know anyone else going. Her solution is to give Claudia her test — she got a 95 — and switch out her name. That’s like, not great, Stace. Claudia knows it’s wrong, and isn’t planning on going through with it … until she ends up having an impromptu heart-to-heart with Trevor about how nothing he ever does is good enough for his father. Claudia reminds him that art is something you do for yourself. Yes, Claudia! And then Trevor kisses her on the cheek and she decides she has to go to that dance, so texts her mom a picture of the test with the 95 on it. No, Claudia!
Even as she’s fixing her costume (she’s Tippi Hedren’s character from The Birds) to head to the dance, you can tell Claudia feels guilty. Then when Mimi starts talking about how much she loves her just the way she is, she feels even worse. On her way out the door, Claudia’s parents ask to see her test in person because they are just so darn proud of her and want to see her name next to that 95. It’s too much for Claud, and she decides it’s time to come clean. She gives them the real test and explains how she’s tired of feeling bad for her failings and not celebrating what she’s good at or passionate about. She’s not being true to herself. Ugh, here we go again with me learning valuable, heartfelt lessons from 12-year-olds! Claudia’s obviously grounded and not going to the dance, but she and her parents have a nice hug, and we leave them in a much better place than when we found them.
Claudia isn’t the only one dealing with high expectations from a parent: We finally get to see Mary Anne’s overprotective dad, Richard, in action. Mary Anne comes home 20 minutes late one night without calling her dad to let him know, and the man isn’t having it. He’s waiting for her in the dark to scold her! Twenty minutes! Like, I know there’s a phantom caller on the loose, but Richard is a lot. To punish his daughter for breaking the rules and making him sweat it out, he takes away her phone and gives her … a dreaded old flip phone. Hey, remember when flip phones were the cool phones to have? Anyway, it’s very embarrassing for sweet Mary Anne.
What’s worse, he grounds her, which means she can’t take the babysitting job for Watson Brewer anymore, and with Stacey and Claudia planning on going to the Halloween dance that night, it’s left to Kristy to take the job. Kristy flips. She calls Richard a psycho, which is pretty awful. You know things are bad when even Mary Anne gets angry, and she blurts out that Kristy doesn’t know anything about “having a normal dad.” Also awful! No one wants to see these two best friends fighting — it’s only episode two!
Kristy’s still mad at Mary Anne when she is forced to watch Karen and Andrew. Eventually, after some tense minutes of thinking she might be next on the phantom caller’s list because Mary Anne’s new/old phone comes up as unknown, the girls talk it out and apologize for what was said. Mary Anne also reminds Kristy that she needs to adjust her attitude about Watson because he’s going to be a part of her life and she needs to get onboard. Mary Anne is the best of us.
It’s a good thing all of these problems are resolved by the end of the episode, because the girls have a new, much bigger one headed right toward them: While at the school dance alone, Stacey strikes up a conversation with her art teacher Mrs. Johanssen and her wife, and suddenly realizes that they, regular clients of the BSC, didn’t hire one of them to watch their daughter that night. And then she learns why — they hired someone from the Baby-Sitters Agency. Our girls have competition. It’s on, people!
• Karen Brewer, everybody! According to Mary Anne, little Karen’s “going through a spooky phase,” and it is weird and also awesome. She makes Kristy have a wake for her doll? She’s super into explaining what the phantom caller does once he’s in your house? She is creepy as hell.
• Watson is so excited to show Kristy that he has a whisper gallery in his home (typical Watson). She remains unenthused.
• Wow, wow, wow, Kristy Thomas really hates school dances and disappointing boys. She hates dances so much that she “wouldn’t go if you paid [her].” She hates dances so much that she would “rather get head lice — again.”
• “If this boy’s not crazy about you, my Claudia, he must be completely out of his mind.” Just over here tearing up, thanks Mimi.