Could the original setting of Sesame Street work for today’s modern day audiences ?

mbmfrog

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Does anyone remember when Sesame Street originally looked like an urban neighborhood like it was a part of the city of New York itself ? Does anyone think that the original Sesame Street setting could have worked for today’s world and children ?
 

D'Snowth

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That's exactly why their present production designer, David Gallo, made the changes he made to the set back in Season 46, because he felt the street had strayed too far away from its original gritty, urban roots, and even used a lot of drawings and such that inner city children had made of their surroundings to get an idea of what it is that they see in their neighborhoods to better convey a sense of surroundings that they're familiar with.

Other than his retro redesign of Hooper's Store (which he did specifically because he felt the store had lost its identity in years of modernization), the design changes made to the set obviously don't reflect us as older fans, because it's never been about us, it's been about the children watching, but his approach to the changes he made to the set are pretty much within the same mindset as Jon Stone when he proposed the setting of this show be on an inner city street in the first place.

EDIT: Just for more in-depth context, here's an interview with David in which he explains why he made the changes that he had made to bring the street back to its urban roots:
 
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DatH

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I kinda feel bad, cuz landscape wise it's actually pretty nice
...too nice
I honestly don't think kids living in the worst Urban areas in the Mid to Mid East US can relate. Heck, for Uni for my major we did research on a NJ City
....Really doesn't look anywhere as nice as this, which again is a shame

Does anyone think that the original Sesame Street setting could have worked for today’s world and children?
Yeah, it's not like the grime ever cleared for most of the world. I live in a "nice" condo in my city, but the rest of the city is pretty cruddy. And this is only Stanton in CA, Urban environments are another mess, especially amidst pandemic and rising house costs

If anything, the current post S46 set weakens the relatability and mystique of Urban life. It doesn't help how the cast for humans and muppets shrank heavily, making the area seem more empty
 

D'Snowth

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It doesn't help how the cast for humans and muppets shrank heavily, making the area seem more empty
Again, you can thank the former Viacom employees who now run Sesame Workshop for making those decisions, based on a more corporate approach to handling the show. Remember, these are the people who were in charge of competing children's shows like DORA THE EXPLORER, and otherwise that contained relatively small casts of maybe three or four core characters, which, according to them, is what kids can handle a lot better than tons and tons of characters . . . and, in a sense, I can kind of see where they're coming from, as this was one of the problems ARTHUR had in its last several years: they had just so many characters, it got to the point where Arthur was rarely the focus of his own show anymore, and they just kept adding more new characters, promoting background characters into supporting roles, bringing in distant relatives of already-existing characters, et al.
 

Oscarfan

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If anything, the current post S46 set weakens the relatability and mystique of Urban life. It doesn't help how the cast for humans and muppets shrank heavily, making the area seem more empty
I think the set kinda doesn't work that well because there's less human presence; everything is built to their scale, not the Muppets. I guarantee that if the show were being created today, they'd have a smaller, Muppet-scaled set.

It's also hard to compare the realism of the set to an actual NYC street. Sure, I haven't seen every nook and cranny of the city, but I haven't seen any street that remotely resembles what Sesame Street looks like.
 

D'Snowth

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The closest thing I've seen to anything in NYC resembling any part of Sesame Street is when I did research on gentrification years ago, and a Google Image search turned up this:



From what I understand, this storefront is located in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn, but if you take a good, close look at the structure and framework of the building, you can see some resemblance to the tenement building on Sesame Street that houses Hooper's Store, Bob's apartment, and the Fix-It Shop/Mail-It Shop/Laundromat, whatever. As a matter of fact, doesn't that door in the middle look to be about the same color they had painted Bob's apartment door, the wooden framing, and the front panels of the Laundromat for Season 39?

Otherwise, the only other comparisons that could be made to element of the set is the fact that during the ATC years, the Subway Station was inspired by the actual 72nd St Station in Manhattan at the time:


But yeah. 123 was supposedly inspired by the brownstones of Harlem, but even photos, I've never seen a brownstone that even remotely resembles 123.
 

DatH

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Remember when Follow That Bird had that souped up set? Whatever happened to that
 

datman24

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No, it doesn't. Honestly, the show doesn't even work today in its current setting. It's become way too fantasized, completely going against its original intention. I know they've always had muppets roaming the streets, but its polished and gentrified look doesn't give the sense that this could be any urban street in New York. That's why I've always felt that they should just end the show as it is, and start new show with the same characters, but in a new setting.
 
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Oscarfan

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Yeah, but that was all pre-clean up of NYC. Before, Time Square wasn't even a safe place to be.
 

D'Snowth

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This in and of itself brings to mind another topic of conversation we've discussed on this forum in years past, and that's, yes, SS has veered a little too far into fantasy as opposed to the old days. Not that there was never fantasy on the street to begin with, what with Muppet characters specifically populating the street, and many of them being more fantasy-like creatures such as birds, grouches, and monsters . . . but, as others have pointed out, we've also seen a boom in the likes of spastic fairy tale characters, and magical creatures as well - the likes of which you'd never encounter in the real world . . . not that you're likely to bump into an 8-foot tall yellow bird, or a green shaggy creature living in a trashcan in the real world, but at least these characters, despite their fantasy aspect, were grounded in some reality, with Big Bird being the everykid that kids watching the show could relate with, or other Muppet characters essentially embodying the kinds of people you may know who live on your street, whether it's a grouchy old neighbor like Oscar, or eccentric roommates like Ernie and Bert.
 
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