I have been watching Sesame Street since the late seventies. Not every day, of course, but fairly regularly most of my life. Edward has been watching it since birth, because I was too excited not to share it. He started noticing Elmo when he was only a few months old.
I still can’t figure out what the deal is with Elmo. He showed up late in my childhood – in fact, if you watch the party scene at the end of Follow That Bird you get a glimpse of a yet-unnamed Elmo cheering from the window. Isn’t that knowledge you couldn’t live without for one more minute? When he first showed up, he was the most irritating goddamn thing I’d ever seen. His entire schtick was “Elmo wants to play!”and he used to just interrupt people to whine that he wanted to plaaaaaaay. Realistic child behavior, but not good entertainment. Of course, I was right on the edge of being too old for Sesame Street at that age, so that didn’t help.
I’ve dipped in and out since then, watching it quite faithfully in college and then again in Hollywood. I resisted new characters as they were introduced but later came around to them. For the most part; Murray can still fuck right off.
I eventually came around to Elmo, even learned to enjoy him. Especially the strange, often kind of twisted stuff that goes down in “Elmo’s World.” Especially if you aren’t listening. Like when Elmo is thinking about “balls.” Maybe I’ve got the mentality of a fourteen year old boy (couldn’t be my home environment, could it?) but that makes me snicker every time. Or the infamous clip that looks like Ernie is giving Bert an old-fashioned. Not that the rest of Sesame Street isn’t just as fucked up sometimes. I swear, they have to be doing it on purpose.
I think that twisted streak is why I’ve hung on. Like me, Sesame Street is cute and friendly, but there’s some fucked up stuff going on underneath the puppets.
I am glad they’re adding more female characters. They need to keep it up; not to go all feminist theory here (although I do have that unused minor in Gender Studies), the ratio of male characters to female characters is ludicrously unbalanced. And as for cool characters? Well…Zoe will never be the “girl Elmo” they were trying for, and Rosita is tepid. I don’t know why they stopped having Prairie Dawn introduce the letter of the day, or what happened to Grungetta and The Countess (Oscar’s and The Count’s irritating girlfriends, respectively. Actually, good call ditching them) . But there is one rockin’ female Muppet on Sesame Street, and she is me. For real. This is me, at age 4, when my grandmother used to call me Abbey Cadabbey:
This is Abby Cadabby: