New Politically Correct Muppet on 'Sesame Street' Breaks My Heart

lily elmoFor a show about monsters and a giant talking bird, Sesame Street has always kept it real. (Consider Oscar the Grouch, who lives in a garbage can and is, well, as unpleasant as you'd expect a dumpster-dweller to be.) Sesame Street was multicultural before "multicultural" was even a word. It was urban before urban childhoods were hip.

(Remember when we were little and they showed those montages of kids playing on what were either inner-city, concrete playgrounds or abandoned construction sites?)

So I'm not surprised that Sesame Street is addressing the issue of child hunger in an upcoming special, "Growing Hope Against Hunger." There's even a new Muppet set to make her debut on the show.


Lily is a 7-year-old character meant to represent one of the 17 million American children the Department of Agriculture estimates is "food insecure."

(My only gripe with the entire project, by the way, is this new DoA term, food insecure. Tell it like it is; these kids are hungry. And they're not "economically insecure," they're poor. Sugarcoating the situation isn't going to help.)

Anyway, Sesame Street producers "thought long and hard" about the best way to approach this sensitive issue, and they decided to put a hopeful spin on Lily's story. (She'll visit a community garden and meet helpful, kind neighborhood types like Elmo and Grover.)

Of course they made the right call in choosing to go the optimistic route; we want our kids to grow up believing that they can make things better for others (and/or that their own situations will improve). We want the show to make kids motivated and aware, not sad and hopeless.

As a mom, however, this special is going to make me break down in tears even if Lily does have a happy ending. Because I won't be able to stop thinking about those 17 million American kids who aren't Muppets.

What do you think kids will take away from "Growing Hope Against Hunger"?


Image via Sesame Workshop

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