Most people are familiar with Christina Applegate for her long-running role as brain-dead teen harlot, Kelly Bundy on the hit television series, Married With Children. In 1991, however, she showed quite a different side, proving herself much more the responsible adult in the fondly remembered comedy, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.
When the Crandell family mom heads overseas for a two-month vacation, she leaves her five kids in the hands of a strict elderly babysitter – a plan that hits a slight snag when the old lady croaks in her sleep. Faced with the choice between having mom return prematurely or taking matters into her own hands, daughter Sue Ellen decides she isn’t quite ready to give up her newfound freedom. Her four siblings, each of whom were severely restricted under the rules of the old babysitter, quickly agree with the plan. And, although she is only 17, she realizes that Mom’s money allowance is nowhere to be found in the house so she better become responsible. Sue concocts a fake resume and lands a respectable job in the fashion industry to make ends meet, while the other four – teen heavy metal fan Kenny, younger teen brother Zack, tomboy Melissa, and little tyke, Walter – discover a world with little daily supervision.
Sue adapts quickly to her new career and quickly moves up the ladder, surpassing a few people who should have been next in line, as she becomes the Executive Assistant Administrator to Rose Lindsey, the Sr. VP. Clearly, she is out of her element, but Rose takes a liking to Sue, as does Rose’s boyfriend, who immediately starts hitting on the new hire. Complicating matters, money is extremely tight for the household and her new paycheck hasn’t arrived yet. Luckily, there is something at work called “petty cash” and Rose borrows considerably from the fund, convinced that she can pay it back when payday comes. Unfortunately, her siblings aren’t exactly fiscal conservatives, and they quickly blow the money on non-essentials. Not only that, but business is tight at the clothing design firm and Rose informs her that they might soon be out of a job. So basically, Sue just needs to figure out a way to keep her job, return the stolen money before she is found to be an embezzler, and keep her family fed before her luck runs out and her scam is discovered.
Adults might not have flocked to theaters to see Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, but it certainly appealed to tons of kids and teens, who quickly made it a favorite. Not only did Applegate give a completely charming performance, but the allure of a story about a bunch of kids surviving the world without adult supervision certainly had it’s appeal. Of course, one thing that the kids had in their corner was that they were supervised by the somewhat responsible Sue Ellen. If it were Kelly Bundy instead, things might not have turned out quite as well.
If you have fond memories of watching Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead as a kid, we hope you’ll share your recollections in our comments section.