Can anyone show me how to get to Sesame Street? Sesame Street is an icon, a staple in television for children (and some adults) of all ages. How much do we know about this infamous street, and its fun and fluffy characters? Well, Sesame Street is old, really old. The television show was first aired in 1969 on PBS, or Public Broadcasting Service. It aired for 45 years on this public television station and has since been moved to HBO.
The premise of the show was simple, it was a one hour show that aimed at being educational and entertaining. They understood that if children were going to be watching television, it better be something where they are going to learn something from it. What better way to do this than with some great and colourful Muppet characters. Big Bird is a crowd favourite, with Cookie Monster and Elmo following right behind.
Sesame Street recently broke the mold when they added a young character who has Autism. Julia, is a little puppet friend who has Autism, and the children on the show (and at home) learn how to properly interact with a child with this need. This was not Sesame Streets first attempt at mixing in colourful characters. They were one of the first shows that featured a cast of mixed cultures and ethnicities. Accurately portraying the real world that children live in.
Even though this show seems wholesome, there will never be a show that does not have a secret or two, or 15. Here we have 15 Sesame Street secrets that the children of the show may not want you to know.
15 Subliminal Messages
Now, this dark secret may not be such a secret, as there have been many people who have pointed this out. The show may be encouraging a very dangerous, and serious eating disorder. One of the most beloved Sesame Street Characters is the Cookie Monster. The furry blue friend has a love affair with cookies! He will do anything for them! Is there a chance that Cookie Monster is actually displaying a serious eating disorder? Absolutely!
The most common eating disorder in the United States is not Anorexia, or even Bulimia. It is Binge-Eating. Binge-eating is classified as a lack of self-control when it comes to food. You may eat too fast, or continue to eat way past the point of satisfaction. Cookie Monster fits every category of someone with a binge-eating problem. Whether this was done intentionally, or it is just a large coincidence may be the secret we never know.
14 Encourages Potentially Dangerous Mental Health Conditions
One of the funnier characters from Sesame Street is The Count. This fun, and definitely not scary vampire loves to count. To the point where the public is very worried if he has OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The Count needs to count, to the point where he can not focus on anything else. He ends up hiring other Sesame Street friends to accomplish simple tasks for him, like hiring Ernie to answer the phones. Even when he hires Ernie, he prevents Ernie from doing his job because he needs to count all the times the phone rings.
This may seem like people are just really digging too deep to find something wrong with The Count, but it is almost too close to definition for it to be wrong. Children absorb what they see, and when they are around an obsessive vampire who needs to count everything, they just may start doing that as well.
13 Bert And Ernie
There is no secret about how people feel about Bert and Ernie, portrayed as friends on the show, there are many people who are convinced that their relationship was a little more romantic than ‘just friends’. A man by the name of Kurt Andersen started this rumour all the way back in the year 1980, when he speculated about this relationship in a book he had written.
He is definitely not the first, and will not be the last one to question the relationship these two ‘pals’ have. Some say that this would be inappropriate for a young audience, while others see it as a great teaching opportunity for our children. Sesame Workshop continues to deny these claims, and states that the pair are indeed just friends, they have even gone as far as to try and show Bert’s interest in women on the show.
12 Not Elmo Too
Now, it may seem like I am ruining all your favourite Sesame Street characters, and I really am sorry but I have to take a hit at Elmo next. This one is not so much against Elmo, but more his puppeteer. The man behind the Elmo, if you will. Kevin Clash was the puppeteer behind the well-loved Elmo, and he found himself in some pretty hot water with Sesame Workshop.
Kevin Clash was found to be sexually inappropriate with underage boys, and he resigned from the show quicker than he could be fired. There is no place for this behaviour anywhere, much less on a television for little children. His statement about his actions speaks volumes, “personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work ‘Sesame Street’ is doing and I cannot allow it to go on longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.” We won’t hold it against you Elmo!
11 Sorry Bert!
We have to bring poor little Bert into another controversy, and it is a big one. Bangladesh, a country on the other side of the world, released some anti-US posters showing a comical, and angry looking Bert next to Osama Bin Laden. This caused a lot of fear among avid fans of Sesame Street, and the show and network were completely and justifiably outraged.
Sesame Street considered taking legal action to protect their characters, and to prevent them from ever being used in such a negative and hateful way. They did release a statement, stating that they have always stood for mutual respect and understanding. They also stated that they were deeply upset that their characters would be used in such a distasteful manner. It is unclear what Bangladesh was trying to accomplish by having Bert in a poster with one of the most hated men in America.
10 The Truth Behind Snuffleupagus
Who doesn’t love Snuffleupagus? He was the big, brown and hairy elephant friend to all! But, he was not supposed to be that way! Snuffy was originally supposed to be only seen by Big Bird, he was his imaginary friend. After a lot of deliberation, the producers decided to reveal Snuffy to the whole cast, including all the children.
The reason is a pretty dark one. According to Martin P. Robison, the man behind the elephant, the reason was because of abuse that children were suffering. Sesame Street did not want to show a scenario where parents where not listening to children when they were being completely honest. They thought that by keeping Snuffy a secret would make children think that if they shared abuse with adults, the adults would not believe them. Well, if Snuffy is helping children come forth and be honest about harm coming to them, then he may just be my favourite character now!
9 People Tried To Demolish It!
As we stated previously, Sesame Street was way ahead of its time in the world when it immediately started to use a cast full of colourful Muppets, and people from many different cultures and ethnicities. This was a big plus for a lot of people, but it took a while for others to come around to this idea. In the 70’s, there was a state commission in Mississippi to ban the show. They did not like it.
The reason they did not like it was because of all the inclusion that was happening. The direct quote, was that they did not approve of the “highly integrated cast of children” and reasoned their view by saying that “Mississippi was just not ready for it yet.” Lucky for us, it didn’t matter if Mississippi was ready or not, Sesame Street was here to stay, and all of their efforts were in vain. The show did not get banned, and has remained as popular as ever before.
8 It Got Scary
Scary is not a word a lot of people think of when they think of Sesame Street, but what you may not know is that there was an episode of Sesame Street that did get banned because it was deemed to scary for children. It all involved Oscar the Grouch. That little grumpy, furry, green guy who lives in a garbage can. He fell in love.
There was an episode where Oscar the Grouch fell in love with the Wicked Witch of the West who made a guest appearance on the show. It may have been due to the scarier nature of this witch that ended up with the episode getting banned. They felt that it was just too scary for children, which of course now, I am extremely curious about this episode. All hope is not lost for Oscar, in a book that was later published, Oscar does fall in love with his neighbour, Germaine the Grouch.
7 Social Anxiety
Sesame Street is a very social show, it always shows children, adults and Muppets interacting with each other. Telling jokes, stories and teaching is an integral part of Sesame Street. However, there is a character that you may not know suffering with Social Anxiety. This is Sweet Telly. Sweet Telly has a clear case of Social Anxiety, which is portrayed any time he is on screen.
Whenever Telly must socialize with anyone, he gets visibly nervous and starts shaking. Sesame Street has always tried to show different behaviours and conditions in an attempt to normalize and destigmatize the issues. Some have wondered if it is too much for the children to take in. Poor Telly’s symptoms always flare-up when he is interacting with people, and we just wish they would get him some help. The poor guy. While it is great to normalize different conditions, we need to show the importance of getting help, and not just accepting it as the way it will always be.
6 Snuffy Gets A Makeover
Now, we already discussed the origin behind Snuffy, Big Bird’s best friend. What may not be as well known is that Snuffy went through a dramatic makeover on the show, as his initial appearance was terrifying. Before his new look, Snuffy had almond-shaped, bright yellow eyes and was just very awkward looking, and not very inviting.
The Sesame Street team gave him a wonderful makeover to make him more children friendly. They focused a lot on his eyes, and the transformation was astounding, as you can see in the picture above. He was Big Bird’s best friend, so he needed to be approachable. He also got a personality change, and became a much friendlier Muppet friend. Children do not need to have nightmares anymore of the big, scary, hairy elephant coming for them at night. Snuffy is now one of the most well-loved characters found on Sesame Street.
5 No One Can Be Like Big Bird
This is one of the least known secrets about Sesame Street, and I am about to blow it wide open. You remember Oscar the grouch we talked about earlier? Well, he was not always green, he was originally orange. OK, more of a yellow-orange, but definitely not green.
His original colour did not last long, until he was changed to the green we all know and love today. The reason for the colour change? Well, the producers did not want any other character to be the same colour as Big Bird, or get too close to the colour. It is clear who the favourite was among the cast, and that was clearly Big Bird, and no one shows up the bird. He only lasted the very first season as this yellow-orange colour before he was changed. The reason for the change is explained in a later episode, when he visits a swamp.
In another episode that did not air, featured the parents of a beloved character getting a divorce. We have already established that Sesame Street was never afraid to cover topics that others may stay away from when it comes to children viewership. In 1992, the show made an attempt to cover the topic of divorce, because the writers saw it as a growing trend among families in the United States.
What prompted this was that the US Census Bureau had just released its data that stated that 40% of American children had dealt with divorce. Due to this, the show decided to create an episode where Snuffy’s parents get a divorce. This episode, unfortunately, never aired because it did not test well with children. Their intentions were good, it just never came to be. It is a shame, as it was probably a show that could have helped a lot of children.
3 Too Many Children
Sesame Street is not only for children, but it is made up of children, a lot of children. Some research was done that showed that Sesame Street’s viewers preferred to watch and listen to other children rather than adults and puppets. This forced them to bring in more children to attempt to please their audience.
The producers insisted that they could not use child actors for their show. This resulted in children who were not professionals, were not given scripts to memorize and that led to a lot of things being spontaneous. While, this worked great for the end result, it made the adults job much more difficult. The adults needed to be more flexible working with the children. It is a neat thing to know for when you watch the show again, just remember, that the children are completely un-scripted.
2 Death On Set
Death is another topic that Sesame Street has not been afraid to tackle. When Sesame Street’s beloved actor Will Lee, who played Mr. Hopper died in real life, the show decided to just be honest about it. They did not want to lie, and make up a story line about how Mr. Hooper had retired or gone on a vacation. They decided to have the beloved character die on the show.
The writers decided to consult with a child psychiatrist to discover what is the best way to address this on television. The line that discussed this is very profound, and it could help anyone out there dealing with Grief. When Big Bird stated that it would not be the same without Mr. Hooper, another character had this to say; “You’re right, Big Bird. It’ll never be the same without him. But you know something? We can all be very happy that we had a chance to be with him and to know him and to love him a lot, when he was here.” I’m not crying, you are!
1 Theme Song Torture
No one would think anything about Sesame Street could ever be considered torture. Unless you have a toddler, who watches the show repeatedly. Especially the theme song, you know the one; “can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street.” While, people may not like it, I do not think that they would ever say it was torture.
When US’s Guantanamo Bay in Cuba opened, people reported that the detention center used the opening song to Sesame Street as a form or torture. Some of the soldiers working here would interrogate Al-Qaeda operatives by blasting songs on repeat. They played mostly hard rock songs, but they also played the theme song to Sesame Street. I wonder if they had copyright permission? I may never be able to hear that song normally again after knowing this dark, dark secret.
Sources; biography.com, iflmylife.com, cracked.com