A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Diverse representations, self-acceptance, representation matters, gives children (and caregivers) the tools needed to address difficult issues in society, across 150 countries and in 70 languages.
Positive Role Models
Includes reflections on how historically taboo topics such as AIDS, sexual orientation, and racism have been addressed (or not) by the creators of Sesame Street and its characters.
In a time when diverse representations in mainstream media weren't common, Sesame Street portrayed people of color in a positive, inclusive, and neighborly light -- and still does. A Black family of Sesame Street Muppets is introduced.
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Violence & Scariness
Mention of George Floyd's murder, images of protests during the civil rights movement and more recently the Black Lives Matter movement.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mention of condoms when talking about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa.
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Includes bleeped-out words, celebrity commentator announces that "Sesame Street is f--king awesome!" The terms "gay" and "trans" are used when discussing the realistic complexity of people (and Muppets).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of drugs and needles when talking about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sesame Street: 50 Years of Sunny Days is a star-studded celebratory two-hour documentary on the classic children's series. This documentary doesn't seek to tell the story of how the show came to be, the way the recently released film Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street does. Instead, this made-for-TV special focuses on major milestone moments of the show and talks about how Sesame Street has tackled some big social issues -- inequality, race, gender, sexual orientation, and even the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa -- throughout its five decades on air. Not necessarily aimed at kids, there are bleeped-out swear words from the commentators, including an instance where a celebrity calls Sesame Street "f--king amazing" at the close of the show. Commentary is offered from John Oliver, Whoopi Goldberg, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Angelina Jolie, Rosie Perez, Gloria Estefan, and Usher, just to name a few celebrities. Viewers get a glimpse into the future of Sesame Street, its global impact on social issues, and how the show is addressing children's current need for racial literacy. We learn about the introduction of a Black family of Sesame Street Muppets, born out of Sesame Workshop's recent racial justice initiative, Coming Together.
Is It Any Good?
Sesame Street's goal has always been to present diversity amongst its cast in order to reach kids regardless of their background. Sesame Street: 50 Years of Sunny Days does a great job at highlighting many of the ways the show has addressed issues of race. Interviews with Sonia Manzano (Maria) and Carmen Osbarh (voice and puppeteer of Rosita) give insights into what their roles in the series has meant to them and others who can relate. The documentary looks back on the impact of Sesame Street's iconic programming, reflects upon the efforts that have earned it unparalleled respect around the world. Discussions around multicultural representation, social injustice, and racism aren't always easy for parents. Sesame Street sets out to be a resource that presents a positive narrative and can ignite conversations to help kids and parents more easily talk about difficult topics.
Surprisingly this documentary isn't suitable for the show's target audience but anyone watching, especially teens, might find it intriguing to learn how producers have made Sesame Street relevant to all kids around the world. This docu film celebrates the show's original vision and shares how Sesame Street stayed true (or not) to its initial goal throughout the past five decades. There are plenty of takeaways, and whether or not you grew up on Sesame Street, parents -- and their kids -- will be better for watching the icon kid's program.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.