Arts, Culture & Media

'Sesame Street' 40 years old and still counting

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(Image: The Takeaway)

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In the span of the four decades that "Sesame Street" has been on air, original cast member Bob McGrath has done over 4,000 episodes. On "The Takeaway," he called the show an "ongoing 40-year experiment."

"It's wonderful that we're in about 140 countries now, 120 English-speaking and 20 foreign co-productions," said McGrath.

Delaina Dixon, who blogs about TV, says "Sesame Street" has made such an impact that plenty of celebrities have offered to be on the show.

"This season alone, you're going to see Eva Longoria-Parker, Sarah Jessica Parker; you're going to see of course First Lady Michelle Obama on today," said Dixon.

Since its inception, "Sesame Street" has been a pioneer in children's programming, featuring an ethnically diverse cast, highlighting the needs of the handicapped, weighing in on issues like discrimination and more.

"They've really kept up with the times and the needs of the kids from one generation to another, so that's to the credit of the research and the writers," said McGrath.

Dixon credits "Sesame Street" with being open to reinventing itself. "Today it's got a new opening; it's changed its format to a block format, trying to match the programming that we see in children’s programming today. But, in the same way that it's changing, it's always stayed the same. There's a familiarity to it -- you've got Big Bird, you got Oscar the Grouch, you've got Cookie Monster. And the theme of kindness has never gone out of style."

McGrath says while it has very little to do with him, people get overwhelmed with emotion when they meet him.

"That happens a lot, and it has nothing to do with me personally. But I'll meet women in their 30s and they'll take one look and break down in uncontrollable sobbing. And I say, 'What's going on?' And they'll say, 'It just brought back such a rush of memories from being 3 and 4 and sitting with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and watching Mr. Hooper and Big Bird.'"

Watch First Lady Michelle Obama on "Sesame Street":

"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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