Sesame Street is 50.
The Washington Post celebrates its Kennedy honours here.
While us Boomers weren’t the target market (by 20, I knew my alphabet), our kids were – and every generation thereafter. But Sesame Street did teach me a lot about a particular version of New York – a working class street of brownstones, stoops, a mix of shops and homes, a mix of people. This was not the suburbia of my neighbourhood or the rest of sit-com TV.
And while this version of New York was, well, nice, it was also edgier than even today’s version of the show, and it prepared me for a New York in the late 1970s and 80s that was anything but nice. As the Post writer recollects:
On a recent afternoon’s binge, I watched one “Sesame” musical number from 1975 called “The Subway!” several times in a row. It’s funny and impressively clever — edgy, even, when compared with the show’s present-day tone. “You could lose your purse; or you might lose something worse, on the subway,” sang an old-lady Muppet, squeezed into a subway car with a trenchcoated Kermit the Frog, a testy Bert and too many others.
Sesame Street taught me the ABCs of an urbanity of which I had no experience. And so, when I had the chance to experience it, I saw the city not just as some dangerous, undesirable, perverse world but as a place to which I had been given an introduction by a green frog and his friends – even the underground world of The Subway.
*Here are the lyrics to The Subway:Read more »