“The World According to Sesame Street”

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  10.25.06 | 9:15 AM ET

Nobody brings the world together like muppets. The new season of the PBS series Independent Lens debuts this week with the documentary The World According to Sesame Street, a look at how the TV show for kids has become a global phenomenon. Los Angeles Times critic Robert Lloyd writes in a stellar review: “It runs in more than 120 countries, mostly in dubbed versions of the original, but in more and more places—beginning as far back as 1972, after an inquiry from Germany—it is being produced locally, retooled for the native audience, with new characters and settings reflecting native culture and concerns.” The documentary focuses on productions of “Sesame Street” in three countries places: Bangladesh, Kosovo and South Africa.

The Independent Lens Web site features profiles of each local production, including a rundown of local characters and video clips:

In Bangladesh, the show is called “Sisimpur” and airs on the country’s one station. “Tuktuki is the main girl character in ‘Sisimpur,’ and was created to show that girls can have the same opportunities as boys. She is five years old, creative, loves to sing and is always very busy.”

In Kosovo, “after years of violent ethnic strife between Serbs and Albanians, the show had the potential to build peace and tolerance with a new generation of children, showing them that their ethnic counterparts were just kids, too.”

In South Africa, the character Kami “is five years old and is HIV-positive. She is a little shy, but very friendly and great fun to be with. Kami keeps a memory box of beautiful things that belonged to her mother; she looks at them when she wants to remember all the good times she had with her.”

“Sesame Street” originator Joan Ganz Cooney explains the show like this: “Our producers are like old-fashioned missionaries…it’s not religion they’re spreading, but it is learning and tolerance and love and mutual respect, and in a way, you have to say it must be the most wonderful job in the world.”

2 Comments for “The World According to Sesame Street”

Predrag 10.25.06 | 10:42 AM ET

Kosovo is not a country.

Art Approaching 06.02.08 | 1:34 PM ET

sesame street, best thing ever.

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