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.