I’m embarrassed that I missed the broadcast on Sunday, but I think this is a fascinating development in family television. Sesame Street introduced Lily, a seven-year-old muppet that doesn’t always know where she’ll get her next meal. Lily is “food insecure” as are too, too many kids today. I’ve worked in schools where the hot lunch in the cafeteria is likely the only solid meal a student will eat in a day…they come to school hungry, they go to bed hungry. The Sesame Street character, with her family, relies on the neighborhood food pantry and community gardens when they can’t make ends meet. For kids to see a storyline like hers and the sensitive and appropriate way the cast deals with it, can go miles toward understanding. It is not your fault if you are hungry, and you are not alone. Huge messages. Lily was introduced on a special evening broadcast called “Growing Hope Against Hunger” and is not currently slated to be a regular on “the Street.” I have a dear friend who is in the cast of Sesame Street, and it would be such a great storyline to see how his (human/non-muppet) character approached her situation. I hope Lily might come back around–I think she can add a lot to the neighborhood. Like Kami, an HIV-positive muppet character that was only on the South African Sesame Street broadcasts, the folks at the Sesame Workshop, having done this for over four decades, truly know how to broach difficult subjects from a young person’s point of view, and stimulate respectful, healthy conversations at home and in the classroom.
As for me, I’ll never forget when the cast had to explain to Big Bird how Mister Hooper had died and wasn’t coming back to Sesame Street. I was home from college…and riveted. The good work of these folks continues…Bravo!