If you’re a parent of a child that’s more than, say, six months old, or were once a child yourself (I know, this probably doesn’t apply to many of you), then you’re no doubt familiar with PBS’s venerable children’s program,Sesame Street.
In a word, Sesame Street is: Awesome.
Actually, if you’re watching it in 2010, it actually doesn’t feel as smart as it once did — there’s a Cookie Monster cartoon now, as well as a Bert and Ernie claymation short in each episode, in addition to the 20 minuteElmo’s World that ends each episode. The truth is, however, it still provides the same educational value, it’s just often done in a different format than what many of us grew up with. But the alphabet doesn’t care — it’s just as informative in CGI, claymation, 2D, or by Jim Henson’s puppets.
In fact, Sesame Street has gone through a lot of changes over its 51-year history, having started out as a program designed to help younger children, especially of low-income families, learn to prepare for school. (That’s why it was built around a inner-city street). Smart, really.
Interestingly enough, before the show aired, research suggested that segments that involved both humans and puppets would be confusing to young viewers. However, testing demonstrated that children lost interest when the puppets were not on the air, so before the first episode aired, they decided to mix puppets and humans on the street, which has essentially created the essence of “Sesame Street.”
For the first 40 years of “Sesame Street,” the format remained relatively unchanged, until ratings began to erode, which is why Elmo’s World was created to focus on the younger viewers. But it’s still kicking — alive and vibrant as it ever was, and over the course of the series — which at its height, was the top-rated children’s program in the world — the show has won more Emmy Awards than any other program in television history, with 118.