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Sesame Street: The Longest-Running Children’s TV Show of All Time

Sesame Street is an educational TV program that is designed especially for preschoolers. It is considered to be a pioneer of the contemporary standard that combines education and entertainment in children’s TV shows.

The show uses a combination of live actors, puppets, and animation to teach preschoolers and young children simple arithmetic, letter and word recognition, cognitive processes, and classification. And as the show continued, it also teaches children other instructional goals that are focused on basic life skills like road safety, proper hygiene, and healthy eating habits.

Sesame Street is produced by the Sesame Workshop in the United States. The children TV show premiered on November 10, 1969, on the National Educational Television Network but later moved to the Public Broadcasting Service later that year. It has a total of 49 seasons with 4,526 episodes.

Sesame Street: The Longest-Running Children's TV Show of All Time

Several of the Sesame Street character’s names are either puns or cultural references that only a slightly older audience would understand like Flo Bear (Flaubert), H. Ross Parrot, a parody of the Reform Party Founder H. Ross Perot, and Sherlock Hemlock, a parody of Sherlock Holmes. The show also had a handful of popular guest appearances such as James Earl Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Kofi Annan. Sesame Street is a show that doesn’t just entertain and educate kids, they also involve the parents in the educational process.

History of the show

Sesame Street was created in 1966 when television producer Joan Ganz Cooney and Carnegie Foundation’s vice president Lloyd Morrisett was having a discussion about creating a children’s television show that would be entertaining enough just like any other television show but at the same time, it should be educational. After two years of research, the Children’s Television Workshop received a total of eight million dollars contribution from the Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation, The U.S Federal Government, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Thus, Sesame Street was produced and it was the first preschool educational TV show that based its contents and production on laboratory and formative research. By 2009, Sesame Street was broadcasted in 120 countries and has over 20 international versions.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Sesame Street made major structural changes like when the format became more narrative in 2002 and it included ongoing storylines. And in 1999, just after the show’s 30th anniversary, one of the most popular Muppet, Elmo, had his own segment in the show entitled “Elmo’s World”. Sesame Street received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy at the 36th Daytime Emmy Award in 2009 the same year when they celebrated the show’s 40th anniversary.

All the episode of Sesame Street is filmed in New York City. The show was originally taped in Teletape Studios in Manhattan but after Sesame Street’s 25th anniversary, the show expanded and needed more space that is why they transferred the filming at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens.

Format

Sesame Street uses a format that has a fast-moving action, humor, strong visual style, and music. When the show premiered, researchers believed that young children have short attention spans that is why the new producers of the show were concerned that Sesame’s hour-long time slot would not hold their audience’s attention. That is why at first, the show consisted of character-driven interaction and not as ongoing stories. They are made up of individual and curriculum-based segments that are interrupted by inserts of short films, puppet sketches, and animations.

When the show reached their 20th season, researchers of the show found out that children were able to follow a story that is why the street scenes, while still combined with other segments, became evolving storylines.

In 1998, the 15-minute long segment of Muppet Elmo called “Elmo’s World” was created. And during the show’s 45th anniversary, Elmo’s segment became a half-hour program which completed the full-hour of Sesame Street. It was both broadcasted every weekday afternoon and streamed on the internet.

Characters

Sesame Street is known for its multicultural elements that is why its casting included young people, disabled people, black actors, Hispanic actors, senior citizens and many more. The same goes for the Muppet characters who come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and various animals and humanoids such as monsters, Grouches, Honkers, Birds, and Dingers. Even if they have their own perspective and unique way of communicating with others, they still live in peace and harmony.  The producers of Sesame Street wanted to set an example for the young viewers not to prejudge others because of what they look like.

Most of the Muppet characters represents a specific stage of early childhood. And their scripts are specially written to reflect the developmental level of children of that age. Sesame Street also addresses fears, concerns, and interests of children at different age levels.

Influence

With over 1,000 research studies about Sesame’s Street’s impact and effect on American culture, almost all of it showed that the show had a significant educational impact to its audience and Sesame Street continued to have a positive effect on young children.

Sesame Street has earned the distinction of being one of the world’s first highly regarded educators of children. Only a few television series can match Sesame’s level of recognition and success on the international scale. Sesame Street also won more Emmy Awards than any other program. It also managed to capture affections of millions of viewers all throughout the globe.

 

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