November 17, 2009

Loved it then, love it now


As Google lovingly reminded me all week last week, this year marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most beloved parts of my childhood: Sesame Street.

(Incidentally, my parents also celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this year. Yay, Mom and Dad!)

Sesame Street was an absolute mainstay in my life as far back as I can remember. my parents were incredibly strict about what we could and couldn't watch. This was one of only a few things outside of nature shows that we were allowed to park ourselves in front of. Not to mention that "cable" and "satellite" TV were foreign concepts to our family, so PBS was the only suitable television for my young mind, especially during the week.

And yeah, Mr. Rogers was OK (if a little goobery), and The Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact! were pretty cool. But for sheer entertainment value (and, as it turned out, educational value), Sesame Street was in a class by itself.

Need proof? I can still sing you any number of songs from that show at age 32 (including one about taking your llama to the dentist, oddly), and remember fondly a huge number of the stories and lessons the show wrapped up in a bright, fuzzy, friendly package.

Sesame Street was the perfect supplement to what my parents tried to teach me: How to share, how to be a good friend, how to treat your pets--not to mention letters and numbers and colors and how to speak a few words in Spanish. To this day, 99.9 percent of the Spanish words I know are because I watched Sesame Street.

Earlier this year I read "Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street." It's a great book, if a little in love with itself and perhaps a bit too detailed (when the author says "complete" history, he ain't kidding). But it was fascinating to me to learn all the stories behind how the show was dreamed up and then created, how deliberate the creators were in what they included in the curriculum, and all the behind-the-scenes stories of how the characters I loved came to be.

(Something I never knew: The Muppet Show came into being because Jim Henson was getting tired of only doing material aimed at three-year-olds and wanted to do some more "adult" material. :))

I find it incredible that a children's show that started in 1969 could still be around and still be so relevant. Even knowing that it didn't come by accident or pure luck (the book made it clear that the Sesame Street producers focus-grouped EVERYTHING), it doesn't take anything away from the amazing standard of excellence they've been able to maintain.

I just loved that, while everything had an educational component to it, everything was also FUN. They made educational things fun and fun things educational. I have yet to see a children's show that does that as effectively or as consistently. (Granted I don't have kids, and I'm sure there are a million awesome kids' shows out there. But a 40-year proven track record is pretty impressive.)

Some of my favorite memories about this wonderful show:
  • The two-headed monster was always my (and my mother's) favorite -- they could always make us giggle uncontrollably.
  • Bert and Ernie: How can you not love them? In addition to adoring all their little sketches on the show, we also had a record (a REAL record, back in the day) of them singing various songs. Our family still sings, "La, la, la -- linoleum!" Ah, good times.
  • I always loved the idea that Oscar the Grouch had a pet worm. Not to mention the elephant that somehow lived in his trash can.
  • The sketch where the diner had to send back his soup a million times; Grover was the waiter. I don't even remember the punch line, but I remember that I loved it.
  • "1-2-3, 4-5-6, 7-8-9, 10-11-12, and the ladybugs sang at the ladybug picnic!" Yes, I still sing that every time I count in threes. (It happens more often than you'd think.)
  • Remember the big-mouthed aliens? (That's them on the right.) I'm sure they were teaching me something, but all I can remember is "Yep-yep-yep-yep-yep! Uh-huh! Uh-huh!" Come to think of it, I think they used to come to earth and learn how things worked...maybe? I kind of remember them saying "Tel-e-PHONE, tel-e-PHONE."
  • Aw, remember when Kermit played a roving reporter? "Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here..." Aw.
OK, your turn. Did anyone else love this show as much as I did? Do your kids still watch it? Do YOU still watch it? (I probably would if I was home during the day!)

2 backtalk:

65 Roses for Marcia said...

Hey Shannon, go to bakerella.com and look at her cute Sesame Street cake pops.

wrestling kitties said...

This may be the best post. I loved loved LOVED Sesame Street!!! The Count was one of my favorites! I still count like him today (just last week infact) when I am counting things. ah ah ahhh

I also loved snuffaluffagus, cookie monster, grover and Oscar the grouch. I actually have bought the Monster at the end of the book with grover for when we have kids some day. Ok, who am I kidding I got it for me. And the waiter with the soup, I remember with the alpha bit soup the guy didn't have all the letters of the soup and grover had to keep going back to get letters. And then at the very end the soup was cold! classic.

"Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here..." LOVE IT!!!!

I don't really watch any more NOT because I am nearing 30 (as if) but because I know Cookie monster now eats veggies and some things have changed to be more PC, but I adore the old SS. Infact we have VHS tapes with episodes that my sister and I loved to watch.

Aw, this post made me smile. thank you

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