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Street Gang Makes Us Fall In Love With Magic And Education of Sesame Street



Puppets and I have a very sordid history.  First with Disney’s The Lion King and most recently in the Broadway show “Avenue Q” but, it really all started with my love of puppet storytelling going all the way back to watching  re-runs of Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Paul Winchell, Willie Tyler and Lester and of course, the legendary core and heart of Sesame Street – Muppets creator Jim Henson.  Today, more than 150 million children have been educated and entertained by Grover, Big Bird, Mr. Hooper, Bob, Maria, Gordon and Bert & Ernie. So, how did Henson get to Sesame Street, how was it born and why do generations of families still resonate with it today?

Based on Michael Davis’ best-selling book, Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street,  Marilyn Agrelo’s documentary explores how creator Joan Ganz Cooney, original series director Jon Stone, and legendary Muppets creator Jim Henson joined forces to create a children’s television show that became a groundbreaking cultural phenomenon.

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1969 was a year wrought with social injustice, unrest, assassinations and the Vietnam war going full blast.  The world had become very politicized and very little attention was being paid to the education of our children.  Joan Cooney, who would become the most powerful woman in television, created the Children’s Television Workshop in response to being  annoyed over “latchkey kids” watching bad television while parents worked to keep food on the table and shelter for their families.  This visionary harnessed the power of the medium for good by offering learning rather than products to children.   Today, more than 50 years later, this global childhood staple, reaches over 150 countries around the world, continuing to entertain while it educates.

Opening with a peek behind the taping magic, complete with a set  overview of rehearsals, you get the sense that Agrelo is sharing a huge secret and you tingle with the anticipation of the reveal like a kid waiting to open presents Christmas morning.  Like what happened to Franklin Roosevelt and it’s creator Matt Robinson, what inspired the set design and beautiful iconic moments like watching the Reverend Jesse Jackson with a full set of children engaging in a call and response of “I Am Somebody,” to  groundbreaking multi-cultural casting reflecting the world we live in to a rousing  all crew round robin of and “Put Down The Ducky…If you Wanna Play the Saxophone” written by their resident musical genius of Joe Raposo who cranked all of those songs that have permanently seared our brains like “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” A song that was less about Kermit’s color and more about embracing the differences of society with all the forms we inhabit.

It’s not a stretch to say the immortal, nostalgic appeal of Sesame Street will always emotionally resonate.  This film is a stark reminder that globally we all need to get to a place like Sesame Street.  A place void of prejudice, negativity and disrespect.  Now that we are ble to hit the theatres, this doc can now be screened there or stream it  via HBO and HBO Max.


I love, love love movies, watching them and discussing them...thus the birth of The Curvy Film Critic!!! Host/Producer/FilmCritic,Carla Renata is a member of such esteemed organizations as Critics Choice Association (Co-President Documentary Branch and Board Member), African American Film Critics Association and Online Association of Female Film Critics. My op-eds or features have been seen in Variety ,, The Wrap The Cherry Picks, as well as being a frequent Guest Contributor to Fox 11-LA, Good Day LA, ET Live!, Turner Classic Movies, The Cherry Picks, The Stream Team (Beond TV) ITV, Fox Soul's The Black Report, The ListTV and more. Catch my reviews on The Curvy Critic with Carla Renata - LIVE!!! Sundays 5pm PST via You Tube or Facebook Live. If you like what you read please shout me out and subscribe to The Curvy Critic on YouTube. You can chat with me across all social media platforms @TheCurvyCritic and as always, thanks for supporting a sista'

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