In a move that could only offend churlish misanthropes (and judging from a Yahoo! comment thread, there are lots of them out there), classic kids show, Sesame Street is going to feature a Muppet whose family is struggling with poverty. The writers of the program should be applauded for their continuing effort to make sure that children are aware of the darker more serious aspects of their world.
The Sesame Street brand has always been forward-thinking when dealing with educating children and showing age-appropriate modes of dealing with hard to handle issues: After Hurricane Katrina, the show devoted an episode to Big Bird losing his nest in a hurricane and having to deal with the aftermath of losing his home; Tap dance prodigy Savion Glover, a former member of the cast, starred in an episode in which he received a racist phone call after dancing and singing with a white girl; Mr. Hooper the lovable store owner died, leaving Big Bird confused, allowing for his adult human friends to teach about the realities of death; and in South Africa, where AIDS is wreaking havoc on its population, its edition of Sesame Street includes a HIV positive Muppet.
The Sesame Street Workshop employs child education experts to review the show to ensure that the topics are handled according to the show’s demographic. This commitment to making sure that kids are informed and not frightened shows just how invested the writers are in proper child development.
Some may argue that including such a sad storyline will burden the young viewers – the reality is, it will open some children’s eyes on what may be going on in the lives of some of their classmates. It’s never too early to instill social responsibility, and Sesame Street is yet again, breaking new ground in educational children’s television.