Children's television has always been a tricky landscape - especially when it comes to pre-school children, where you have the challenge of balancing being being both entertaining and engaging while also remaining educational to the formative audience. I'm not talking about shows like 'PAW Patrol' or 'Peppa Pig' or even 'Dora the Explorer', but 'Blues Clues', 'Little Einsteins', and for the slightly older kids, 'The Magic School Bus'. These have educational elements like maths, reading, writing and science baked into their narratives - but there is one show that rules them all. So can you tell me how to get, how to get to...
'Sesame Street' is not just the definitive educational show but children's show. Almost any child that's grown up since its inception in 1969 has been influenced by its almost 5,000+ episodes. Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Groover, and Bert and Ernie were among the original puppets to revolutionise children's television, but there was a massive team behind the scenes who created this Street. 'Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street' lets us in on how the world got to 'Sesame Street' and the people who did.
The problem with a documentary about 'Sesame Street' is because it's such a fundamental part of millions of childhoods and spans so many decades, one film can't illustrate everyone's nostalgia for it. The show I grew with in the early 2000s is wildly different from the one airing today. While the documentary is highly informative and well-constructed, because it does only focus on those first few years and more so the creative team than the ones in front of the camera, there was a little disconnect for myself at times.
That being said, this is a wonderful snapshot of the beginning of how the game-changing show began, showcasing a group of people who truly had a passion to teach children in entertaining ways. One of the things the documentary brought up that I've never even thought of in relation to the show is how racially integrated 'Sesame Street' is and that was intended from creation. The show was designed to reach children across America, especially in lower-class areas, and part of its success is because every family - no matter what colour - could tune in and see themselves.
The problem with a documentary about 'Sesame Street' is because it's such a fundamental part of millions of childhoods and spans so many decades, one film can't illustrate everyone's nostalgia for it.
'Sesame Street' will always be culturally relevant, and its impact will be everlasting - but because of that, a single documentary cannot cover its grandeur. A limited series could have dived deeper into how the show has evolved over time, but that's not to dismiss 'Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street'. It's a good look at the very beginning of a groundbreaking TV show - and at the root of it all, the idea of educating children through entertainment.