Sesame Street Is Heading To HBO

Photo: Rex USA.
When I was about 6 years old, my family moved from our suburban home with all the comforts (read: cable) to a remote lake house with access to just three channels. PBS was not one of them. We had Star Trek reruns, sports, and Saved by the Bell — which my dad wouldn't let me watch because he thought Looney Tunes was more age appropriate. We did not get Sesame Street, and losing it was one of the biggest blows of my young life.

Our first night in the secluded new house, I had a nightmare. It wasn't about the snakes roaming in the tall grass outside, or the woodland creatures trapped in the walls making scratching noises. It was about Sesame Street. Holding hands with Big Bird — the same character who appears on a door-hanging I still own ("Erin's Room, Welcome to My Nest") — I slowly made my way up and down the fictional street, saying farewell to each and every character. I sobbed in the dream, and I sobbed in real life. I was absolutely devastated.

Fast-forward a few years, and I was calling my younger cousin a baby because he wanted to watch Sesame Street while I was intent on the much more mature Inspector Gadget. I should probably point out that he was an actual baby at the time. Thankfully, I've since snapped out of that phase and have come to appreciate Jim Henson's characters once again. When Maria announced her departure earlier this year, I felt bereft. I can't look at crayons without thinking of the video that shows how they're made. In recent years, I've even caught myself watching potty-training skits with my young niece. (And now that you know this, I have to kill you.)

Needless to say, I love Sesame Street and hope it never changes. Today, Variety reports that the program is, in fact, changing, though perhaps for the better. Following PBS' announcement that it will run the children's program in 30-minute episodes as opposed to the standard hour, HBO has inked a five-year deal to air new episodes beginning in late fall. More episodes (a total of 35) will be produced for the new season than ever before, and they will also air on PBS nine months after their HBO debut.

HBO will also create a second educational series for kids, plus a Sesame Street Muppets spinoff series. It's an exciting development for the landmark program, provided children whose parents can't afford premium cable still get access to this great content. Yes, the episodes will eventually air on PBS, but nobody wants to be the kid who misses out the first time around. On the other hand, isn't it reassuring to know that the show is safe for at least another five years?

After all this time, it's doubtful that the tone of Sesame Street will change simply because it's joining the same network that serves up Game of Thrones and Girls. Then again, we could kind of see Hannah Horvath trying to date lost-cause Oscar the Grouch. Don't go there, guys.
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