While taking a decidedly low-key vacation with my family in sunny Los Angeles, I found a few hours yesterday to channel surf through some mind-numbing American daytime TV. Being on the verge of fatherhood, I could not help but stop on the local PBS affiliate to check out Sesame Street, the long-running children’s television program known around the world for its numerically and alphabetically-obsessed anthropomorphic animals.
It was much the same as I remember it, and I was amazed to see some of the veteran actors, including Maria and Gordon, still at it after all these years. On the other hand, some of the newer characters – i.e. Elmo – lost me; and I couldn’t help but notice the differences in the new voices of the muppets (Kermit the Frog, Ernie) once voiced by the late creator Jim Henson – I’m old school like that.
Speaking of old school, I recently discovered that one of my favorite rappers, MF Grimm, was one of the earliest kids on Sesame Street (he got on the show after being recommended by his neighbor Morgan Freeman). How he went from riding on the back of Mr. Snuffalufagus to being paralyzed from the waist down after a drug-related shooting is beyond me, but the man’s story is still quite remarkable. And now that Harvard and the UN are recognizing the show for its profound international influence, it’s indeed heartening to see Sesame Street carry on in this age of crass merchandising and thirty-minute long toy commercials.