Yesterday the news cycle was peppered with the anecdotal silliness of a petition started to let Bert and Ernie get married. Today’s response is brought to you by the letters A through C.
A: I of course wholeheartedly agree with the idea of having LGBT characters / same-sex couples represented on Sesame Street. I’ve been watching children’s television pretty much daily for the last year, and I’ve only seen one fleeting reference to two dad or two mom families anywhere. (The video below runs occasionally on Nick Jr. The family in question shows up at the 1:11 mark.)
The thing is, non-platonic relationships are extremely rare among Sesame Street’s furry folk. True, Kermit has had a decades-long tumultuous affair with Miss Piggy, but that’s only been in the context of The Muppet Show. The characters on Sesame Street, other than (kind of) having a gender, don’t even really have specific ethnicity. Except for The Count, who I guess is Transylvanian.
Sesame Workshop CEO Gary Knell said in 2007, “[Bert & Ernie] are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets…they do not exist below the waist.” (Guess he hadn’t seen the above photo, pulled from Bert and Ernie’s Facebook page…)
The Muppets are meant to teach basic concepts like friendship, sharing and conflict resolution, so I say they keep it that way. Romance can really complicate things, even particularly for adults.
B: It’s high time, however, that Sesame Street had a same-sex human couple. Or even just a gay man or lesbian. They’ve had every race and physical handicap represented on the show, and even an inter-racial couple. There are currently two married couples on the show: Susan & Gordon (who have an adopted son, Miles) and Maria & Luis. The closest they’ve had to an LGBT character is out actor Michael Jeter’s Mr. Noodle. But he’s mostly annoying, not gay.
C: Besides, they already have a gay Muppet… Mr. Snuffleupagus. That’s a drag name if there ever was one. His overly sensitive demeanor? That Harvey Fierstein voice? Those over-the-top eyelashes? When they brought him out of the make-believe closet, they should’ve brought him all the way out.
(PS: If Sesame Street is going to stand by their statement that Bert & Ernie are indeed not gay, they might want to rethink the RAINBOW BELT BUCKLE they sell in their online store.)