This morning I watched my first full episode of Sesame Street. I met Murray the monster (he has a beard!) and heard the Count sing a song about the number 8. Super Grover 2.0 (I never knew there was a Version 1.0) taught an elephant and a sheep about the importance of balance while riding in a boat. Then Cookie Monster morphed into a cartoon character and performed a little ditty for the letter E. Eh Eh Eh!
I’m thirty-five years old and, finally, I feel like I know what’s up.
See, I was raised in Italy until I was eight. There was not much in the way of furry monsters on TV or even English-speaking kids’ shows (Italian Smurfs were very popular in the early 80s). My television viewing habits revolved around the Armed Forces Network showing reruns of Solid Gold in English (hello, Eddie Rabbit) and Mazinga (which I believe was called Tranzor Z here in America).
My devotion to Mazinga probably explains my instant attraction to Voltron once I moved to the U.S. Would it also explain my first romantic crush being on Keith, the commander of the Black Lion?
Until this morning, I was only familiar with Bert & Ernie, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and the Count. I have followed the controversies involving Sesame Street residents introducing AIDS & HIV, adoption, and the inevitability of death to children, so I am obviously aware of the show’s cultural significance.
When I had my daughter, the Elmo craze was just starting to hit. Elle became so infatuated with Elmo that she had to watch Elmo’s World all day, every day! So, yes…Dorothy and Mr. Noodle were better friends to my daughter than Telly and Mr. Hooper. Elle’s nickname soon became Ellamo.
But not once during her younger years did we watch an episode of Sesame Street. While she has turned out to be a fairly normal child, even without the influential pull of the Street, she and I did agree this morning that the fuzzy cast of Sesame Street is pretty awesome. We would totally watch it again.
BONUS: R.E.M., my all-time favorite band, performed Furry Happy Monsters with some of the cast years after declaring the band would never play that song live in concert. So, folks, if you would like to catch a performance of Shiny Happy People, Sesame Street style, here you go: