Warning: Spoilers for The Babysitter and The Babysitter: Killer Queen
Babysitters have long been a staple of slasher movies. They’re often teens: old enough to make sure the house doesn’t burn down for a few hours, but not old enough to handle emergencies with the effectiveness of an adult. This is part of what makes them effective in the genre. Teens are the perfect balance of naive and resourceful.
Within the genre, there are evil and good babysitters. Evil babysitters are sadistic authority figures, delighting in the opportunity to take advantage of the adults being away, giving them unfettered access to their victims. Good babysitters, though they may get frustrated with the childhood antics of their temporary wards, ultimately are effective caretakers.
The Babysitter landed on something more complicated.
Cole doesn’t actually need a caretaker. He’s old enough to be on his own. However, his fear of the world inhibits him from moving from childhood into the transitional period of teenagerdom. As a result, he has Bee, his beloved babysitter, to watch him.
Bee isn’t the typical babysitter. She’s closer to a friend than a caretaker. In brief moments, she’s also an object of lust. With her, Cole is able to forget about his fears. He doesn’t become brave and impulsive. Rather, he becomes comfortable and feels at ease.
Cole defeating Bee is symbolic of growing up. By literally crashing a car into his babysitter, he’s able to move on from childhood. He sees Bee for who she really is. She’s not the embodiment of evil; she’s just selfish. She doesn’t hate Cole; she’s just trying to achieve her goals. As Cole puts it, she’s Don Draper. If this were the end of the story, it would mean that Cole would have grown and changed from the experience.
However, this isn’t the end of the story.
In The Babysitter: Killer Queen, we see that not much has changed with Cole. He’s still fearful and retains the “innocent” role from the first movie. Functionally, this means that his blood is needed for the ritual, but he doesn’t need to be killed. Whereas in the first one Cole’s “innocent” status was meant to signify childhood, here it’s used as a shorthand for virginity. When Cole has sex, he’s no longer viable for the ritual. This was set up by none other than Bee herself.
Bee’s Changing Role
Bee isn’t as complicated in Killer Queen as she is in The Babysitter. Originally, she made her deal with the devil to become strong and confident, something that Cole desperately wanted to be. The difference between Cole and Bee is that Cole is able to find that within himself rather than following the path to darkness.
However, in Killer Queen, Bee’s motivation changes significantly. She was ultimately a caretaker who was willing to make a make a deal with the devil to save Phoebe. Her selfless intentions cost her soul, and to save Phoebe and Cole, she must sacrifice herself. However, she does this without complaint. There is no hesitation in her actions and nothing she could gain besides dying knowing that she protected Cole and Phoebe.
The similarity in Bee’s actions between the two films is only that she remains the mastermind behind the devil-worshipping cult that appears in the films. In the first film, she’s building the cult, but in the second film, she’s destroying it.
This could have been reasonable character development for Bee, but it wasn’t intended to be character development. Killer Queen posits that she was secretly a good caretaker all along. We know that she excelled at her role as Cole’s babysitter, but it wasn’t because she was selfless and maternal. She was good at being Cole’s babysitter because Cole enjoyed her company. Her guidance was not as a parent, but as a friend. Albeit, a cooler, older friend.
When Bee is moved from friend to caretaker, it undercuts a large part of the first film. Cole never really needed a babysitter. He didn’t actually need to defeat an evil cult to outgrow his babysitter. He valued Bee’s friendship and she was able to teach him how to draw from his inherit strength, but his dependence on her wasn’t a result of a lack of capability. By making Bee the ultimate babysitter, willing to literally sacrifice herself for the safety of the kids she’s looking after, it underminds Cole’s journey throughout both films. The sequel ends with Cole needing Bee, his babysitter, after all.
Mothers, Lovers, And Bitches
In Killer Queen, female characters fell in to one of three categories: mothers, lovers, and bitches.
This isn’t an issue isolated to Killer Queen. It’s prevalent throughout media. By making your female characters little more than archetypes, it centers the film on maleness. Actions and character development are centered around a male character. In some cases, this makes sense. Cole is the protagonist of the film. However, this causes incomplete characters with little to do in the plot.
The “bitches” (Melanie, Sonya, and Allison) are the ones involved with the cult–those who seek to use Cole’s innocence for personal gain. By protecting Phoebe and having sex and losing his innocence, he is able to defeat them. The lovers (Melanie and Phoebe) present an obstacle for Cole. In the first film, with a brief exception, he only had to protect himself. Now that he’s older, Cole has to protect Phoebe as well. Additionally, he has to move on from his crush with Melanie. Finally, the caretakers (Phyliss and Bee) are there to worry about Cole’s safety and take care of him.
Killer Queen doesn’t explore what it means to fill any one of these roles. Bee’s role as “cool” caretaker–more friend than parent–is now filled by Cole’s father. The most complicated journey is Melanie’s. She moves from lover to bitch, betraying Cole for followers so she can be an influencer.
Melanie has gone through many iterations in The Babysitter series. In the first film, she’s Cole’s comforting and sympathetic friend. He has a crush on her that he never acts on, despite Bee’s encouragement. Every time Cole acts deliberately to move his relationship with Melanie forward, he gets closer to defeating Bee. This isn’t a perfect representation of a fully-actualized female character, but Melanie isn’t a caricature.
However, in Killer Queen, Melanie has cartoonish motivations to take Cole’s blood and keep him around for his “innocence.” Melanie has an unexplained desire to be an influencer, which she believes she will get by joining Bee’s cult. In comparison to Bee, Melanie’s Faustian deal with the devil is much more concrete. Bee wanted something internal and Melanie wanted something external. Melanie didn’t become Don Draper; she became a supervillain. She was effected in a way that’s truly opposite from Cole. Where Cole was repulsed by what Bee had done, Melanie was intrigued.
In the terms of the Matrix metaphor she presents to Cole, Cole’s escape from The Matrix is to destroy everything from his childhood, including his former best friend and crush, and move on with his life.
The Finality of Age
In each film, Cole has to decide how he wants to deal with the loss of childhood. The Babysitter suggests that Cole should deal with this by taking care of himself. We see hints of that in Killer Queens. Cole is unaffected by gaslighting and quick to act when he believes he’s doing the right thing. However, this doesn’t solve all of his problems.
Killer Queens takes this a step further. It suggests that the loss of childhood needs to be a clean break. Teenagerdom is not a transitional period. It’s an opportunity to move on. Those who move on quickly are more likely to succeed than those who hold on to childhood.
Cole is rewarded at the end of the film by suggesting that everything had happened in his head. He’s no longer interested in loudly proclaiming the truth. To him, there are more important things to worry about. Cole’s story ends with newness. He leaves behind everything in his childhood, from his best friend to his personal demons.
Even Bee follows this message. The only thing she can do for Cole is to destroy herself: the last remnant of his childhood.
Ultimately, the story is about moving on and moving on forcefully. The films posit that growing up means that not only are you able to destroy your demons, but you’re also able to not care about them. The demons will never return in any physical way for Cole, so he buries them.
The Babysitter and Mad Men
Cole’s story ends when he becomes Don Draper.
Like Don, Cole is able to lie at the right moments, remain strong and confident against all odds, and suppress what he needs to. Though in the first film, Cole sees this as a bad and shameful thing, in the follow up, Cole sees it as a necessity.
He forgives Bee because he takes the same course of action. Bee lied about her trauma with Phoebe just as Cole lied about his trauma to his guidance counselor. Though Mad Men was once presented as being too adult for Cole, now he’s old enough to relate to its protagonist.
And so, the story ends with Cole finally understanding Mad Men. With all aspects of childhood gone, Cole is able to be an adult.