In the 50 years that Sesame Street has been around, the show has done more than teach children how to count and spell. Using friendly muppets, this kid’s show tried to address an array of serious topics, from 9/11 to racism. Of course, given the polarizing, and sometimes controversial nature of these topics, their attempts were lauded by some and criticized by others. Here are some notable attempts that Sesame Street has made in regard to some pretty heavy social issues.

Addressing Divorce

As divorce rates climbed, Sesame Street tried to address this topic only to find that while kids with divorced parents were able to relate, the show instilled fear and paranoia in other kids. They started asking their parents if a divorce was imminent. The Senior VP of the Sesame Street Workshop admitted that this topic was perhaps not a good idea.

Making 9/11 Digestible for Kids

When 9/11 happened, Sesame Street addressed it by using the analogy of a grease fire in one of the muppet shops. Given the seriousness of the topic, the show did a good job of creating a less serious scenario as a way for kids to talk about the aftermath.

Can’t Please Everyone

With sensitive topics such as race and autism, Sesame Street received negative feedback from certain activist groups. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to please everyone. Still, the important takeaway is that Sesame Street has been trying to teach tolerance and acceptance throughout its 50 years. A positive force.


Editorial credit: Lester Balajadia /

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