Jessi Ramsey, one of the newest BSC officers, is center stage in this episode. Or, rather, isn’t center stage, and that’s the problem she’s grappling with throughout. Ahead of this Jessi-focused episode, we knew a few things about her: She’s best friends with Mallory Pike (I will withhold commentary because I am changing), she has appalling taste in snack food (green juice? Come on!), she lives up to the “goal-oriented warrior” title she was given during the personality-quiz exercise (she is expertly juggling a lot!), and this child fucking loves ballet. She loves it! To see a sixth-grader so focused and passionate about something is — well, add her to the list of tiny humans on this show who are showing up adult humans. It would be obnoxious if those tiny humans weren’t so kind and inspiring!
A lot of what comes with being an adult viewer of The Baby-Sitters Club — aside from questioning your life choices and letting 13-year-olds throw you into an existential crisis (but, like, in a cool, fun way) — is watching these young girls learn things that you know from experience are important life lessons. We see them tackle obstacles for the first time and know they’ll likely encounter them throughout their lives because we have, too. Kristy learned about faking it till you make it, Claudia realized the benefit of listening to those who are different from you and how that makes you a better person and leader, and Stacey experienced firsthand the importance of being kind to yourself when you feel pressure to be perfect. In “Jessi and the Superbrat,” Jessi learns several lessons adult viewers might be familiar with, the first being that whole idea of going from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond.
Jessi is used to being the star dancer, recognized by everyone as having real talent and always being the center of attention when it comes to ballet. But recently, Jessi was accepted to a more grueling dance school that she’s been wanting to get into for years, and she quickly learns that, to put it bluntly, a bunch of people are better than her. Her mother tries to remind her that this is exactly what she wanted — to get better — but when Jessi gets cast as a mere background icicle in the winter recital, she begins to spiral a bit. Her entire identity is wrapped up in excelling at dancing, and to her, this is a huge failure. She even lets the girls in the club believe she was cast as the lead because she’s too ashamed to tell them the cold (pun intended — Dawn will love it), hard truth.
And then the influencer arrives. It’s not like Derek Masters has bad intentions — he seems like a very nice kid! (Also, does he really need a babysitter? He seems very mature.) But it’s clear that hanging around him confuses Jessi a bit.
Derek Masters is “the most-followed TikToker under 10,” a phrase that will keep me up at night; it’s so disturbing. Known as the Superbrat, he posts a lot of unboxing and reboxing videos and whatever else an under-10 TikToker might post — I don’t know, I’m old. His dad, Chaz, has some creepy dadager vibes made only worse by his willingly wanting people to call him Chaz. Jessi will be Derek’s sitter once a week so that Chaz can go to meetings and build Derek’s career; he wants to take him from TikTok fame to TV child-actor fame. If you’re wondering what Chaz’s deal is, know that he goes out in public wearing a “Superbrat” T-shirt while carrying a briefcase. It’s confusing, is what I’m saying. Anyway, this guy is all about creating content. Content is king. Everything is content. Chaz is probably single because he’s in a very committed relationship with content. When Jessi comes to babysit, she’s supposed to help Derek work on new content. To be honest, Derek seems fine with that. It’s all he knows, really — he’s been doing this since he was 2 (!!!). This is probably linked to why when Jessi tells him she’s questioning her love for dance after not getting a big part in the recital, Derek’s advice is to pivot to an online platform. She could build her brand and get sponsorships. Maybe internet fame is what she’s meant to be doing instead of dance.
To Jessi, who’s obviously hurting from not feeling good enough to do something she thought she loved, ditching dancing to get rich making YouTube videos sounds perfect. Ah, children. So dumb. Thankfully, Jessi’s mother is the best. When her daughter tells her this plan — and says that, to truly build a platform, she’s going to quit dance — Mrs. Ramsey shuts it down immediately. She reminds Jessi how badly she wanted to get into this dance school and how much their whole family sacrificed to make it happen. She knows exactly what’s going on: Jessi is upset that she isn’t the star dancer there and that she didn’t “get exactly what you wanted when you wanted it,” but that is not a reason to give up everything she’s been working toward. And she is especially not quitting to “make YouTube videos of yourself with packing materials” in the family laundry room. Mrs. Ramsey is a hero for our times.
Jessi might be processing everything her mother has said, but in the meantime, she’s pretty upset because Mary Anne witnessed that entire exchange, which means she now knows Jessi has been lying about getting the lead in the recital. Jessi is embarrassed that she didn’t get the part and, on top of that, is embarrassed that she lied about it. She begs her not to tell the other girls, but Mary Anne wants her to understand that they wouldn’t care at all. They’re her friends.
Jessi starts to rethink everything, and the next time she babysits Derek, she sees him a little differently. He didn’t get the role he had been auditioning for, and his father is too preoccupied with correcting that to pay attention to his son. By the time Derek starts talking about how he’s worried because his views are down and he heard his dad talking about mortgage payments, Jessi realizes this is not the way it’s supposed to be. Derek is a kid! He needs time off! He should be making videos because he likes to, not because he’s concerned about bills or building a career. So Jessi gives him the afternoon off. They dance, they make ice cream, and they do not film one bit of it. When Chaz gets home, he’s displeased with the service Jessi is supposed to be providing. This leads to a truly wild sit-down between him and Kristy, the closest thing Jessi has to a manager, in which Kristy learns that Chaz, as a single dad, is just stressed about providing for his son. That’s fine, but no one gets short with Kristy’s sitters, okay? Chaz does finally seem to think about the pressure he’s putting on his son, but not much really changes. By the end of the episode, Derek is heading to Los Angeles to jump-start his acting career. He seems excited about it, so perhaps we can let it slide. Alas, what has Chaz learned? Definitely not that a business meeting with a 13-year-old is weird and that he should think about his life choices.
We’re less concerned with what Chaz is learning and more worried about how Jessi is doing. At the recital, she sees how happy the girl dancing the lead part is, and it all comes together: She should be dancing because it makes her happy, regardless of whether she’s a background icicle or the star of the show. She should be dancing for herself and for no other reason. And if she does that, of course, her family and friends will support her no matter what. This is exactly why Jessi comes off the stage and finds not just her family there but all the BSC girls and a bunch of their charges, whom they brought to cheer her on. That’s a life lesson worth twirling for.
• Mary Anne is fielding texts from Logan and getting some help from the girls in deciphering boy code. The latest text is “playing then [ramen emoji].” Stacey thinks they need time to unravel it. Mary Anne thinks it just means he’s playing Minecraft and eating ramen later.
• Mary Anne sinking into the chair and trying to disappear while Jessi and Mrs. Ramsey are fighting was a great visual.
• Very much here for Kristy trolling Stacey about poison ivy. Stacey says it’s too soon, but it is not. It is right on time. Kristy is pretty savage for a wholesome eighth-grader.
• Cool: recognizing Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” as the timeless jam it is. Not cool: referring to it as “this old song.” I had to lie down after that.