When Sesame Street: Old School Volumes 1 and 2 DVD set was released two or so years ago, my heart skipped a beat. Finally! I so loved Sesame Street back in the day. I still do. I knew who were the people in my neighborhood. I knew the alligator king had seven sons. And yes, I could do the ooohh ooohh , pigeon. Like visiting your ancestral home with your little ones in tow, I couldn't wait to take the Mak-Tatos down memory lane with me on this street I adored and the 'friends' I grew up with - Ernie, Bert, Oscar, Grover. Each and every one of them. And then word on the street was that the DVD was not suitable for pre-school children. Huh?
(Place picture of Bert's mono-brow here. Pipe in sound of thunder and the Count's evil laugh here)
Here is an excerpt from Virginia Heffernan's article for the New York Times , Sweeping the Clouds Away.
Sunny days! The earliest episodes of “Sesame Street” are available on digital video! Break out some Keebler products, fire up the DVD player and prepare for the exquisite pleasure-pain of top-shelf nostalgia. Just don’t bring the children. According to an earnest warning on Volumes 1 and 2, “Sesame Street: Old School” is adults-only: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”
Say what? At a recent all-ages home screening, a hush fell over the room. ''What did they do to us?'' asked one Gen-X mother of two, finally. The show rolled, and the sweet trauma came flooding back. What they did to us was hard-core. Man, was that scene rough. The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating. Cookie Monster was on a fast track to diabetes. Oscar's depression was untreated. Prozacky Elmo didn't exist.
And in conclusion:
People on “Sesame Street” had limited possibilities and fixed identities, and (the best part) you weren’t expected to change much. The harshness of existence was a given, and no one was proposing that numbers and letters would lead you “out” of your inner city to Elysian suburbs. Instead, “Sesame Street” suggested that learning might merely make our days more bearable, more interesting, funnier. It encouraged us, above all, to be nice to our neighbors and to cultivate the safer pleasures that take the edge off — taking baths, eating cookies, reading. Don’t tell the kids.
You can read the New York Times article in full here .
One commenter on a thread made me laugh out loud. " Where I work there are a lot of Oscars and gluttonous monsters. I'm so glad sesame street prepared me." And so we ponder.. should we expose our little ones to Sesame Pre-Elmo times? I say YES! YES! YES! And to prove it, here's a video from way back when, from a certain street I called home. Now go, gather the pre-schoolers.