Sesame Streets takes on brand new tough topic - parents in jail - in a slew of new episodes
Picture: Cheryl Henson - The Annual Sesame Workshop Benefit Gala is held at the Cipriani - Thursday 30th May 2013
Sesame Street is undoubtedly a great educational show – teaching kids to read, count, deal with a parent in jail, etc. The show hasn’t shied away from touchy topics like divorce and military deployment in the past, so the choice to add a character who has a parent in jail seems fairly natural at this point.
Max, the adorable blue muppet, faces some big challenges for a little kid, but that’s the whole point. “I just miss him so much,” the fuzzy blue-haired muppet says of his locked-up dad, adding, “Sometimes I just feel like I want to pound on a pillow and scream as loud as I can.”
The character is being introduced during a teaching-group for 3-to-8-year olds called 'Little Kids, Big Problems.' He will not become a regular on the actual program, but none the less, the folks at Sesame Workshop think Max is an important step towards complete inclusiveness on Sesame Street. Sesame Street's has always aimed at representing the experiences of all children in an accessible, understanding way and the character will relate to some children.
"Coming from a muppet, it’s almost another child telling their story to the children,” Jeanette Betancourt, vice president of outreach and educational practices at the Sesame Workshop, told the Today show.
The videos show Max telling his friends that his dad won’t be around to help him build a toy car. When Abby Caddaby and co. ask why, Max drops the bomb that his father is in prison. But it’s ok, because the muppets are kind and understanding, and there’s an adult around to explain that sometimes, when grownups break the rules, they have to go to prison.
“We’re grateful to them for taking this on,” Krupat told New York Daily News.
“The goal of these materials is not to normalize parental incarceration because there’s nothing normal about it,” Krupat said. “It’s great to focus on those children immediately impacted ... but I want to see these materials affect policy.”
Sesame Street has always aimed children work through problems along with its colorful characters.
The characters often represent the children themselves.