Howdy folks. I’d like to administer a little test on you. Don’t worry, you won’t need a number 2 pencil or anything. Simply look at these images and tell me what all these figures have in common:
If you said they’re all letters of the alphabet, you’re very warm. If you said they’re all parts of a combustion engine, you’re very cold. For the sake of time, I’ll just give you the real answer – these are all letters that have not been the “Letter of the Day” on Sesame Street in nearly 7 years.
That’s right, these poor letters have been ignored on the show since 2015! What could be the reason? Did the letter Q’s contract expire? Have the writers finally exhausted every possible way of teaching the letter J? Was X just getting too expensive to keep on retainer? I reached out to the Alphabet Union for comment and sadly, I could not get any response (the fact that such a thing doesn’t exist might have been the problem).
Quite frankly, my concern is the effect this will have on the current generation of Sesame viewers. You and I no doubt were watching Sesame in our formative years and learned about these letters through such tunes as the jaunty “J Friends” or the zophisticated “Zizzy Zoomers.” I fear Sesame’s target audience these days will be going through life unable to recognize nearly 20% of the English alphabet. Why, they probably can’t even comprehend much of this article! It must look like total nonsense, and not the nonsense we’re usually known for around here.
I suppose today’s youth will have to turn to alternative methods for learning these letters. Perhaps some sort of large brick building with many rooms and adult instructors to teach them letters. Heck, maybe even some numbers. And why not, throw in a hot meal and some outdoor play every day too. And if that doesn’t work, I know a guy who can get you these letters for just a nickel.
Now, permit me to remove my dunce cap. I think the real reason we don’t see these letters on the show is because the show doesn’t actually care about letters anymore. If you watch any given episode these days, you’ll see short films like “F Is for Frog” or “G Is for Garden Hoses,” but those will be about frogs and garden hoses, not the actual letters, which are ostensibly just used as segues. Even the traditional “Sesame Street has been brought to you today by…” thing hasn’t been used since the show was truncated to 30 minutes. But, that doesn’t surprise me much; it didn’t make as much sense when the show shifted formats and the inserts were less like “commercials.” Plus, in reality, there’s really only three letters who could accurately be said to be bringing the show to us (H, B, and O).
I can recall a time when the show’s writers fought to ensure they could do at least 26 episodes a season so that every letter could be featured. Now, they’re doing 35 episodes a season and they’ve still managed to skip those letters. Oddly enough, The Sesame Street Podcast on Audible continues the tradition of being sponsored by certain letters, including most of the ones I’ve alluded to that the actual show has ignored. They even do fun little songs full of words with each letter like they used to do. How can they manage that on a 15-minute podcast and not the half-hour TV show?
It’s disappointing that what used to be the show’s bread and butter is now basically an afterthought, but the times are a-changin’ and there are more important, pro-social lessons the show wants kids going into school with instead, and that’s all well and good (like their recent “Coming Together” initiative). But I’m just sayin’, it wouldn’t hurt to give ‘em a fun little song like “ZZ Blues” from time to time.
(Note: as of this writing, Sesame Street’s 52nd season is currently premiering weekly on HBO Max, so it’s entirely possible one of these letters could be featured in a yet-to-be-released episode. In which case, you may disregard the appropriate amount of rambling above).
Click here to be missing some letters on the To_gh Pigs for_m!
by Shane Keating