Sesame Street introduces Lily, the first muppet to experience homelessness

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/13/sesame-street-introduces-lily.html

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Oscar the Grouch has been living out of a trash can since the series started.

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That was my first thought, but that perpetuates a stereotype that homeless people live out of trash cans (or at least that it’s something a homeless person would do). But the big differences are:

Oscar made the choice - and loves his habitat
He’s an adult in the show

Stereotyping homeless people living out of trash cans robs them of their dignity, and I’m not sure that his character was conceived as a homeless person to begin with - that was a connection made in the viewer’s mind.

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And it’s really nice in there! Well, for a trash can.
image

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Was coming to say this. “Dude, have you seen the whole dwelling and set up?!” Oscar’s “trash can” is bigger and roomier than my 3 bed 1 bath ranch dammit.

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Although her journey with homelessness will not appear in televised episodes of “Sesame Street” at this point

Is this not the way the vast majority of kids consume Sesame Street?

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That is a very good point. Hazards of mixing a long standing world of fantasy with real life dilemmas. Now I wonder if they will ever approach the topic of Oscar and his chosen home as much as smart-ass adults like myself will invariably harp on it.

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They’re doing more and more digital shorts these days. Kids definitely still watch the show, but I know my relatives with kids probably watch more stuff on YouTube than on broadcast TV.

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We know children experiencing homelessness are often caught up in a devastating cycle of trauma—the lack of affordable housing, poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home

Are they going to subject her to domestic violence too? Either personally or to a caregiver.

What other issues could they tackle? Not necessarily to Lily, but others.

They did death a while ago with Mr. Hooper, but Elmo probably hasn’t come home to a his goldfish floating belly up. I’m sure they’ve done bullying in some form. Maybe unemployment, but probably not sexual abuse, substance abuse and addiction, PTSD, or predators. Though I could be wrong. I can see that they may have wanted to work many of those themes into an episode already.

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In a society so obsessed with consumerism and that elevates selfishness to a virtue, it’s always nice to see a ray of light like this. Fred Rogers (who never considered himself a rival to CTW) famously advised us to “look for the helpers” in the midst of dark and terrible events. Sesame Street remains a helper.

Of course, this attempt to give homeless kids some measure of comfort and representation will be exploited by the Scrooges of the right. When Lily was first introduced in the context of food insecurity, this was the response from Fox News:

https://www.rawstory.com/2011/10/foxs-the-live-sesame-street-poverty-muppet-is-liberal-bull/

Andrea Tantaros asked, “I just don’t understand why this muppet is hungry? Obama has expanded food stamps, he’s expanded WIC, Women Infants in Children. Why is Lily hungry?”

Bob Beckel, the only non-conservative on the show, reminded his co-hosts the statistic that one in five children are in poverty in America. But that did little to change his right-wing colleagues.

“But why does Lily have to be a muppet?” Eric Bolling asked. “Why does Sesame Street have to make Lily a poverty stricken little muppet for our kids to watch? Why is Lily a lass, a group, do we single out the black muppet, the Hispanic muppet?”

“There is so much money out there to feed these kids, this is just the biggest bunch of liberal bull,” Tantaros said.

This isn’t the first time the network has attacked Sesame Street. In June, a Sean Hannity panel group thought the show was promoting “liberal views.

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hopefully all their puppets are being consensually puppeteered…

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Hands up if you think this is OK?

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vs

Bob Beckel, the only non-conservative on the show, reminded his co-hosts the statistic that one in five children are in poverty in America. But that did little to change his right-wing colleagues.

Which one of these organizations has heart and cares about people and which one is a cold and heartless propaganda machine?

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Use the following as a context:
Beautiful that it exists, tragic that it is necessary.

Making the homeless muppet as a real character with relatable real problems definitely has its place, just like when sesame street called bullshit on happy families (families don’t always get along), made a series of segments on kids with parents in jail, and introduced an autistic muppet.

This is in keeping with the real good work sesame street does, and i hope they do this one well.

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While they tackle specific issues from time to time, Sesame Street’s main social mission beyond the core educational aspect is promoting diversity and representation and inclusiveness – that all children are valuable.

The primary goal in this case seems not to be drawing the audience’s attention to the issue of homelessness (although it does this, too), but rather to show a significant portion of the audience that they’re as welcome and loved as anyone else in the neighbourhood despite feeling very “different” (this is also why they brought in an autistic Muppet character a while back).

That’s not to say that Sesame Street avoids discussing specific issues. They just address the more disturbing and upsetting ones in different contexts. For example:

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Of more concern, Big Bird is a six-year-old whole lives alone outdoors in an alley. That was why the social worker Ms. Finch tried to place him in an appropriate home in the 1985 movie “Follow That Bird!” He ran away from that family and resumed living in the alley.

Of course, it’s pretty normal for birds of that age to live on their own so whatever.

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Just like the TARDIS, it’s bigger on the inside

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it is almost 2019, he really should consider moving to a recycling bin. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Mashup opportunity! “Welcome to my crummy TARDIS.”

I know someone who worked for CTW years ago. One of the rules was that kids visiting the set weren’t allowed to peek into Oscar’s trashcan.

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You want him to get even MORE grouchy?

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