The World According to Sesame Street

  • Review Date: October 30, 2006
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 107 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Serious adult docu about Muppets in the 3rd world.
  • Review Date: October 30, 2006
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 107 minutes

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What parents need to know

Positive messages

Promotes awareness of global issues and the importance of education.

Violence

Some scenes of rioting in Bangladesh and Kosovo; images of South Africans suffering from HIV and AIDS; burial scenes. Sobering images of poverty and flooding.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

A producer blurts "holy s--t" when armed guards order her to stop filming at a Serbian checkpoint. Another producer says "s--t" a couple of times in frustration over production delays and describes someone as "intimidating as hell."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a serious documentary. It's not a collection of skits from the kids' TV series, nor is it geared toward younger Sesame Street fans. It examines how the show is produced in other countries and tackles complex issues such as poverty, war, and ethnic discrimination. Specifically, the film shows rioting in Bangladesh and Kosovo, images of South Africans suffering from HIV and AIDS, and burial scenes.

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What's the story?

This fascinating documentary follows Sesame Street producers as they adapt the children's' series for broadcast in Bangladesh, Kosovo, and South Africa. The team must carefully adapt the show for kids who struggle with problems like hunger, violence, and illness on a daily basis. Along the way, they encounter challenges that range from political red tape to rioting and civil unrest. Their brainstorming sessions with local educators convince them that the program can make a difference in children's lives. Producers and their local teams work to make the show as culturally relevant as possible to each audience. In poverty-stricken Bangladesh many kids leave school as young as 5 to go to work. So the show is designed not only to educate kids, but also to address the class and gender equity issues prevalent in Bangladesh. In Kosovo, where Albanians and Serbs live in segregated communities, the Kosovo team wants to promote values of acceptance, tolerance, and peace. Locals also remind the producers that the program should include warnings about hand grenades, which kids often find while playing. In AIDS-ridden South Africa, the team develops an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami. Although Kami initially raises ire among some American conservatives, she's immediately embraced by South African children.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It's intriguing to watch producers and their local teams work to make Sesame Street relevant to kids across many different cultures and facing different, serious issues, like AIDS and the after-effects of war. Although it's a bit sluggish in the last half hour, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET is still a captivating look at a much-loved American phenomenon and its global outreach.

The DVD extras include a history of the show, which first aired in the United States in 1969 and is now seen in more than 120 countries. The show's originator, Joan Ganz Cooney, is interviewed and likens her producers to missionaries spreading a message of learning and tolerance with these international co-productions.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the featured countries differ from the United States. What makes their cultures unique? How do you think Sesame Street producers decide what to change when they export the show to other nations? How can something as simple as a TV show help the kids in those countries?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 24, 2006
DVD release date:October 24, 2006
Cast:Edward G. Christie, Terrence Howard
Directors:Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Linda Hawkins Costigan
Studio:Sony Wonder
Genre:Documentary
Run time:107 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The World According to Sesame Street was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byberonica April 9, 2008
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Teen, 14 years old Written bySynchronicity April 9, 2008
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An eye-opening docmentary

This documentary isn't for little kids even though it's about Sesame Street. No, this documentary is about what Sesame Street is like around the world in countries with issues such as poverty, AIDS and HIV, hunger, and racial hatred. It's very interesting. This movie would be rated PG-13 if it had a rating because it has some images of warfare and burial as well as two uses of the s-word. But still, this documentary is such an eye-opener. I even cried at some points. If you can handle the small amount of bad content you should watch this video.

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