By Jennifer R Jones | Posted on November 10, 2009 11:30 AM
In the beginning, Cookie Monster smoked a pipe (only occasionally, and only in character as Alistair Cookie), the streets were dirty, and buildings were covered in graffiti. For four decades, however, generations of kids have known how to get to “Sesame Street,” which celebrates its fortieth anniversary today. Mayor Bloomberg has declared Broadway and 64th Street--you guessed it--Sesame Street, and today is officially ”Sesame Street Day” in New York City. The show, which films in New York, has been gussied up through the years and, some may argue, is less appealing for its PC focus. (Yoga? Tofu? Really?) But as, perhaps, the best loved, most popular, and most influential children’s show ever, still known for its trademark goofiness, it deserves every accolade it’s afforded. The special guest today is Michelle Obama; she suggests that Oscar the Grouch take a bath, and he is understandably concerned by this notion because he might get clean. If it weren’t for “Sesame Street,” we wouldn't have Elmo or Big Bird or the Muppets. We wouldn’t have seen a children’s show cross boundaries of race and deal with issues like the death of a character, long before other shows tackled those issues. Numerous kids wouldn't have seen their own urban environment reflected on TV, and adults wouldn't have known that children’s shows could be for them, too. But most of all, we wouldn’t have had the sheet revelry and zaniness that is the show’s hallmark. Generations of kids would still have learned their ABC’s—but perhaps not with as much sheer delight as they did on Sesame Street.