Of all the happy, smiley childhood illusions that have fallen away over time, I find myself disproportionately distressed by this look into the almost scientific underbelly of Sesame Street in The New York Times. (Free registration required.) I guess I never really thought about how things work at the Children’s Television Workshop, but I never imagined that there were focus groups lurking behind every trash can.
It’s undeniably weird to think of a program as benevolent and inclusive as Sesame Street as struggling with one of the same issues that seems to confound superhero comics publishers – developing a popular marquee character who also happens to be female:
“But it’s not just a high-minded interest in gender equality that drove the search for a strong female character. The success of ‘Dora the Explorer,’ a show built around a strong female lead, has not gone unnoticed by its competitors at ‘Sesame Street.’ ‘ “Sesame Street” is living in an increasingly competitive market,’ Ms. Nealon said. ‘We used to be the only game in town, and now we’re having more conversations about where are all the points of appeal of our cast. We’re trying to be as absolutely broad-based as we can be.’”
Illuminating and strangely depressing reading.