Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Five Things Sesame Street Failed To Teach Me

Sesame Street turns forty today.  I want to make it clear that I love that show and have many fond memories.  If you were fortunate enough to grow up in the Sesame Street era, you’ve probably spent a little time reflecting on your favorite moments or lessons you learned from the show.  I want to focus on the latter for a moment.  Was Sesame Street really a good teacher?  Here are a few areas where I think they may have come up short:

COUNTING:  For some reason, I never learned to count beyond twelve.

EAT RIGHT: Is it a coincidence that childhood obesity has become a national epidemic in the Sesame Street era?  Cookie Monster is obviously a bad influence, but do you remember that baker who always fell while trying to carry pies down a flight of stairs?  I’m no psychologist, but what this taught me is that if you don’t eat all the pie, someone’s getting hurt.

LOVE:  I didn’t even know love existed as a child thanks to Sesame Street.  A friend pointed out that Sesame Street was coming into it’s own while America was in the throws of passion with the “free love” of the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Ironically, the only reason we were plopped down in front of the show was to keep us busy while our parents kept busy with God knows who.  Yet for the most part, Sesame Street failed to depict love in any meaningful way.  In fact, any efforts at romance were ultimately squelched.  Take, for instance, the restaurant bit where a potential couple would be sitting at a table getting to know each other, only to have Grover ruin any chance for romance by constantly interrupting and getting their orders wrong.

Funny enough, Gordon and Susan were married, yet the role of Gordon was played by three different actors who barely resembled each other.  What was Susan UP to?  I would have asked Mom and Dad if their bedroom door hadn’t been locked.

Roscoe Orman as Gordon (1974-present)

Hal Miller as Gordon (1972-1974)

Matt Robinson as Gordon (1969-1972)

ROOMATES: Bert and Ernie seemed to live together in relative harmony.  The biggest issue I seem to remember was when Bert got a little hot headed over Ernie’s failure to water the plants in the window box.  But did these guys ever have to deal with REAL roommate issues?  Where’s the three day battle over the phone bill?  Did Bert ever come home drunk after pledging a fraternity all night and pee on Ernie’s stuff?  My roommate Beau did.. and I had no idea how to handle the situation.  Thanks again Sesame Street.

THE WORKPLACE:  Mr. Hooper was able to work in that general store until the day he died.  Sesame Street did very little to prepare us for corporate downsizing, budget cuts and furlough.  That being said, I suppose the folks over at PBS could make the argument that we don’t really know the back story of how Oscar ended up living in a trash can.  I guess the severance ran out.

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the first celebrity guest to appear on Sesame Street?

ANSWER: James Earl Jones.

1 comment:

  1. Per the marriage of Gordon and Susan: three men with the same name?? How convinient! For in the throws of passion there's no worse mistake than yelling to the heavens a different name than that of your companion's.