LOL, Mallory in the books* wasn't TOO bad, but any onscreen portrayal of Mallory has always been atrocious. I kinda liked her as the oldest Pike, but she wasn't all that interesting on her own.
*Bearing in mind that I didn't read that far into the series, I think I aged out around the 40-book mark, not sure what Mallory developed into later on.
I always knew I was a MaryAnne, but for some reason, didn't really aspire to be a Stacey. I guess it felt like too much of a leap. Honestly, I think I found Kristy a bit more aspirational for her assertiveness and lack of shyness.
Ha, it sure did. But I think that's what turned me off about the character a bit, even as a kid, I felt like I recognized the signs of a little kid playing at being mature. Boy Crazy Stacey is my hands down favorite of the books and I feel like that showed up Stacey's shortcomings.
Back to the show, I was another accidental 1-day binger. I honestly didn't expect to like it, despite the great reviews, because I know a lot of people have fondness for the movie, but I couldn't get through that thing.
I loved Kristy right off the bat, the actress nailed the attitude. And watching the first episode, I'd forgotten that the inspiration for the club was Kristy's mom. How in the world I could EVER have forgotten that, I don't even know, since they rehashed it in every single book. Claudia was great too, the actress has the understated cool girl thing down. Stacey was a bit shaky for me, the actress was a bit dorkier than my vision of Stacey. And Mary Anne is always tough for me because the character isn't my favorite (despite being the one I relate to) so any portrayal isn't going to make me happy. She got better as the series went on though. Dawn was just okay for me.
I loved that they used actual plots from the books, I wondered how they could do Phantom Phone Caller in the age of caller ID, but they handled it well.
I was a little disappointed in Boy Crazy Stacey, mainly because it's my favorite (due mostly to the depiction of 1980s Jersey shore, which was where I spent my summers too). So the generic house, generic beach, generic boardwalk was a big downgrade from the books. Also didn't understand why MA's guy was rewritten as gay (and the actor was annoying), the point of that storyline in the book was that shy MA could snag a guy over time while Stacey was throwing herself at the lifeguard all week. Changing that detail took away from the storyline for me.
I was really hoping (but not expecting, cause I'm sure the scenery would be too hard to construct) to see Dawn's haunted house episode. Credit to Ann M Martin's writing that I can clearly envision the house and the passageway in my mind (same with the beach house, Burger Garden, etc in B-CS).
They handled the Karen character really well, that was a character with huge potential for precocious annoying-ness, but they pulled it off. Watson threw me for a loop. For whatever reason, "Watson Brewer" conjured up images of Ben Franklin for me and as a kid, I probably didn't think about Kristy's mom's age and how it was probably late 30s/early 40s at most, so I just imagined that she'd married an old man. So this new young version of Watson was VERY jarring. MA's dad was pretty perfect, I know the actor as the uptight husband of Captain Holt on Brooklyn 99, so this similarly uptight character felt normal.
I liked the little moments among the adults that showed that they were a small community who likely knew each other from school functions/their kids being friends, etc. I can't remember much about how the parents were supposed to have related to each other in the books (beyond Mr Spier and Dawn's mom, obviously), but the acknowledgement that Kristy's mom and MA's dad would have known each other well but not necessarily liked each other was a realistic addition.