Friday, February 22, 2008

Noo Ne Noo Ne Noo

We're watching Sesame Street Old School--the episodes from when I was a kid, circa 1975 B.E. (before Elmo). I love it and I remember every single song and cartoon. I watched a lot of T.V. growing up and a lot of it was Sesame Street. I'll admit that I'm pretty nostalgic about my childhood, as most people are. But I like to think I'm a good judge of modern improvements: cars are safer, laundry soap is highly concentrated, fashionable clothing ban be purchased inexpensively, health insurance is more readily available. But I'll tell you what, kids' shows are not getting better. There's not one I can stand. Dragon Tales? If I watched that as a kid I would never have had children. And what's with the Rastafarian lions? Sick. I did like Blues Clues with Steve. But they lost me with Joe, who is of the Max and Emmy school of speech and behavior.

One thing I loved about Sesame Street was that it was set in our time. Everything else I watched on T.V. was from the 50s or took place on a prairie. The kids on Sesame Street wore clothes like I wore and when you saw them in their homes (in a number like Everybody Sleeps, for example) they actually seemed a little scroungy. It was so earthy.

The characters we met on the Street were actually archetypes that continue to influence us. Luis is the obvious precursor to Jimmie Smits--that explains it. I mean, who wouldn't vote for him or gladly join his sugar mafia? And when Luis tells kids to "go play," they do--instead of thinking he's a bad mom, like my kids do when I say it. And Kermit the Frog is a precursor to Tim Gunn. You might not see it at first, but hasn't Tim Gunn been reminding you of someone? His voice? His face? His impeccable appropriateness? The endearing give and take of Bert and Ernie readied us as children for the Seinfeld we would embrace as teenagers: Bert has the voice of Jerry, the neurosis of George, and the wardrobe of Kramer.

And these guys. . .

They were the indie band you would discover in college, thinking you were the only one who really "got" it.

Of course The Muppet Show was your cool older sister who had better taste in music, talked about famous people you'd never heard of, and told jokes that went over your head. Once you're aware of it the cultural plagiarism of Sesame Street is pretty hard to ignore.

Another thing I love about Sesame Street is how it personifies numbers, which I do too. 1 is the dad and is married to 2. 2 is the more outgoing mom. 3 is their son. 4 is a tomboy who sometimes hangs out with 3 but can usually be found with 5, who she is completely subservient to. 5 is a hot-tempered and powerful man. 6 and 7 are kind of like brothers, but 6 is way friendlier than 7 who is, as a matter of fact, kind of like Bert. 8 is a woman who is in love with that rake, 9--who doesn't really appreciate her as much as he should. She is always there for him though. And 10 is the noble grown son who has left home but comes back with really good presents for everyone. 1 and 2 are very proud of 10. He'll have a family of his own one day.

I would probably have more faves among the new kids' shows, but my kids are firmly ensconced in tween programming which is a whole other ball of crap. Needless to say, there weren't tweens when I was a tween. You watched Mr. Rogers during the day and MASH at night. It's just what we did. Ben, who is 5, thinks he's too good for "baby shows" and watches Mythbusters exclusively. Heaven knows, a little Sesame Street would certainly do him some good.


  1. Anonymous1:21 PM

    Yo Gabba Gabba. For a kids show it is so "far out" (I thought about it and this is the best and maybe the only adjective to correctly describe the show) that I am mesmerized, and so is my 2 1/2 year old.

  2. You should teach a course about the cultural significance of Sesame Street (and blatant plagerism in pop culture)! I

    My kids and I watched all your clips and then went looking for more. After watching these clips I loved as a child, I realize that Elmo is pretty dopey and Sesame Street has gotten away from its roots. It's watered down. Or am I just an out-of-touch 30-something?

  3. Anonymous4:37 PM

    Hank is doing the Super Why show lately. And he is reading like crazy now. I don't know if that has anything to do with the show or if it is because of his AWESOME kindergarten teacher. Whatever, at least he isn't watching the tween shows with his sister.

  4. You are SO right. And I could totally see Kermit saying. . . "make it work."

  5. I love the old Sesame Street.

    I have to say, I like Elmo, especially because my Elmo impression gets the kids to pick up their toys and behave. However, I don't like how Elmo kind of took over everything. I don't like the cheap animation that the Street uses these days.

    I firmly place my love of funk and R&B at the foot of 1970s Sesame Street.

    Sometimes, I kind of wonder if Mr. Hooper's death is my generation's Kennedy. OK, not really.

    But maybe.

    I hate Dragon Tales too, just can't stand it. I love Curious George.

  6. I still love Sesame Street and have a crush on Mr. Rogers. And, I watch MASH almost exclusively at night. Guess I'm stuck in the 70's.
    and that's ok. I appreciate that Bert was supposed to teach us that it's ok to be boring. Bert and I could be buds, and feed pigeons together. (p.s. are you going to see the Police concert this summer. I certainly hope so! It's imperative to see Sting when he is in this area...)

  7. Please go and get (if you don't already have it) Live from the Street: 35 years of Sesame Street music.

    The whole family enjoys it. And when I read the LARGE insert/cover thing-y (I know it has a name, but I can't think tonight) I shed a tear or two for Kermit. I love him.

  8. You make some very insightful points... I chuckled audibly at the Grover/Blue Man Tobias comparison.

  9. A loaf-a-bread, a container-a-milk, and a stick-a-butter.

    Mister Rogers's puppets gave (give) me nightmares. What the meow-meow is up with those things?

  10. The Muppets are a dying breed--and I don't just say that because of Jim's demise. I miss them terribly but was pleasantly surprised when I realized they had their own attraction at Disney's California Adventure. I've never heard my kids laugh so hard!

    BTW, kudos on the use of "ensconced!" I've been patiently awaiting the time when I would see that used in an intelligent blog.

  11. I absolutely watch Mr. Rogers in the morning and MASH at night when I was a kid. I recently started watching Mr. Rogers again. My husband thinks it's weird, but I think of it as free therapy. Everyday there's someone telling they love me for who I am- and they genuinely mean it. Can't beat that.

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