There are lots of fictional locations I'd love to visit: Narnia, Hogwarts, Westeros, Lichtenstein (that can so not be a real place you guys). But if a fairy godmother came along with a magic wand and told me I could live in any of them, I would say, without a moment of hesitation, Sesame Street. This magical neighborhood has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The world should be more like Sesame Street. It's not just the puppets and the music (but, I mean, the puppets and the music!), it's that so much of what makes this show special could actually be applied to the real world if we tried.
Apparently I'm not the only person who thinks we need the world to be more like Sesame Street, either. On May 1, the City of New York officially named West 63rd street and Broadway "Sesame Street," according to CNN. My beloved childhood dream home has an actual, you know, home. An address. Like, I can visit Sesame Street, if I want, and so can you.
And if you think about it, the desire to turn the show Sesame Street into a real place isn't all that surprising. While the show is meant for preschoolers, it has a universal appeal that transcends age. Big kids like it. Adults like it. Everyone likes it. And the concepts the performers seek to convey — kindness, cooperation, empathy, emotional regulation — are straightforward and fundamental; concepts we should all, as human beings, continue to strive to obtain and display. And, yes, as you get older life gets a bit more complicated, but sometimes the answers to those complicated questions are a lot simpler than you'd think.
So, while I think it's amazing that there's a literal Sesame Street in New York City now, I don't think we should stop there. I think the entire world needs a dash of Sesame, and for all of the following reasons:
It Adapts With The Times While Holding Fast To Its Core Values
Sesame Street has certainly changed over the years. Some of the humans and even the non-humans have come and gone. There's a garden where there was none before. I don't think Celina's dance studio is still there. Oscar lives next to a recycling can now. But while some of the set design and even cast has changed, Sesame Street has remained a place where kids can gain some understanding. And I think that's how we all should be: true to ourselves, but willing to recognize that growth and change are good things, too.
Everyone Gets A Chance To See Themselves On Screen
Sesame Street is diverse AF, you guys, and I am here for it. Characters of all races, genders, creeds, ethnicities, family backgrounds and situations, and abilities/disabilities have been featured as extras and main characters. It's beautiful! Sometimes their unique perspective is brought to the foreground, like when Rosita teaches her friends songs in Spanish. Other times that's just, you know, life on Sesame Street. Like, Linda isn't using American Sign Language to teach us all how to sign or how to interact with a deaf person this episode. Linda is signing because that's how she communicates and it's not a big deal.
It's Body Positive
Everyone Is Kind To One Another
Everyone, you guys. They all look for one another and treat everybody with kindness, respect, and compassion. Adults are busy with their daily lives, but they're always on hand to answer and encourage questions from the younger residents. Wouldn't it be so fantastic to live in a world where literally anyone you meet is available to help you learn new things?How to tie your shoes, what sound the letter R makes, what number comes after 5. These are important facts!
Seriously, even the Grouches are, like, not mean. They're just grouchy! And who isn't grouchy sometimes?! I want the real world to be like that.
They Keep It Real On The Street
Sesame Street is a sunny, happy place, but that doesn't mean that the show hasn't tackled some really big, serious, sometimes scary issues. Divorce, food insecurity, homelessness, incarceration, HIV, natural disasters, and death have all been explored on Sesame Street, in a way that is honest but makes kids feel like there are ways to cope and people who they can talk to.
It's been 35 years and I'm still not over the death of Mr. Hooper. The dude literally died before I was born but I miss him.
People Talk About Feelings
All the time! Perhaps the most important legacy of this show is the fact that, for 50 years the characters and stories of Sesame Street have helped kids not only learn ABCs and 123s, but also build their emotional vocabulary to help them through life's challenges. It gives them a way to talk about what's going on inside of them, and considering there are a lot of adults who still need practice in this arena, you really can't start too young.
Differences Are Celebrated
A cynic might think that featuring a cast of characters from so many different backgrounds and abilities would wreak of tokenism. But from day one, Sesame Street has done such a terrific job of showing the world as it is (read: a world where there are all kinds of different people) that the differences between the show's characters are at once the most natural, casual thing in the world and a source of happiness to all the people in their neighborhood.
There Is Art & Culture Everywhere
There's always something going on when you go to Sesame Street. Maybe Leela is going to teach a yoga class or perhaps Bob will show Grover and Abby the different kinds of instruments in an orchestra. If you're lucky you'll get there on a Grouch holiday! Point is, everyone is incredibly creative and willing to share their creativity with the people in their neighborhood.
So Many Famous Visitors
If I ever became famous the show I would most want to go on would be Sesame Street... and I'm clearly not alone. All the biggest and coolest celebs wind up doing a stint on Sesame Street and I would like to live somewhere where I could just stroll along and casually run into Lin-Manuel Miranda or Beyoncé.
We *Should* Know The People In Our Neighborhood
For real, you guys. I lived in New York City for years and I met maybe five of my neighbors and it wasn't for lack of trying... and not one of them taught me a damn thing about the alphabet.
I Want To Burst Into Song Sometimes
Seriously, this is not much to ask and it's all it would take to make me rapturously happy.
It Hasn't Seemed To Gentrify Too Much
Like, people can live and work on the same street, which is damn impressive for New York. And they're not, like, six-figure salaries as far as I can tell (I've never seen a music teacher or bodega employee make six-figures, anyway). The closest I've ever gotten to any of my jobs in Manhattan has been a 45 minute commute so... ya know. It must be nice for Chris to roll out of bed at 123 Sesame Street and head over to open Hooper's Store for the morning rush without having to factor in an hour long subway commute.
Who Doesn't Love Colorful Puppets?!
I dare you to look at this gathering of furry friends and not smile. You can't do it.