I wrote this angry letter shortly after discovering that Sesame Street was planning to fire three of its longest-serving castmembers. I never sent it, but I would like to claim credit for Sesame Street reconsidering their decision.

No! No. Just No. God fucking no. A sane and reasonable open letter to Sesame Street from a concerned dad

Dear Sesame Street,

Today I read that longtime cast members Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado, and Roscoe Orman had all been shit-canned from the show as part of its “retooling” for HBO, and I ask with all due respect, what the fuck? Seriously, what the holy living fuck? Is this seriously fucking happening? On Sesame Street?

Look, I’m not one of those hysterical adults who froth at the mouth with indignation at the thought of female Ghostbusters. That shit doesn’t matter. It’s just entertainment, and fairly mediocre entertainment at that. But this shit does matter. It super-fucking matters. This is no mere television show. This is goddamned mother-fucking Sesame Street. It’s the best show ever. I watch Sesame Street with my adorable baby 24/7. How the fuck am I suppose to explain to him that three of his television pals had been fired from the show because some yuppie shit bird childless executive thinks old people are gross?

I know the television world is full of compromise. It has not escaped my attention that due to the advanced age of the actor playing him, Big Bird now seems winded if he’s asked to walk more than a few steps. I have no doubt that there’s an ambulance nearby and doctors at the ready if Carroll Spinney succumbs to the grim reaper.

But at least you kept employing this kid-show legend long after retirement became an appealing option. That’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re the good guys. And the good guys don’t terminate longterm employees because they don’t test well with the pre-verbal.

You don’t fucking do this to people. You’re better than that. I get fired. Actors on Sesame Street aren’t supposed to get fired, particularly not en masse and at a time when the universe needs the comforting, soothing reassurance of Sesame Street more than ever. Because the world’s a really awful fucking place right now, and kids desperately need a television show like Sesame Street to convince them otherwise.

You’re Sesame Street, for fuck’s sake. You’re supposed to be a kind, loving and compassionate escape from the unrelenting awfulness of the world, but now the horrific, Lovecraftian nightmarishness of the modern world is wrapping its slithering tentacles around one of the only things of value in this universe.

Do you realize what a challenge it is to watch Elmo several hours a day without phrases like “teen sex scandal” or “resigned in embarrassment” ever entering my mind? It’s not easy, but I do it because I have an unhealthy, pathological obsession with Sesame Street and when you’re as obsessed as I am, you can’t find out about shit like this without freaking the fuck out. It’s going to be even harder to feel unambiguously positively about a show that’s all about firing old people these days.

As if all this weren’t pants-shittingly terrifying enough, the 84-year-old, now unemployed McGrath says HBO will change the focus of the show to “self regulation” and “executive function.” I have no fucking idea what that garbagey horse-shit means, and I’m a bona fide grown-up with a college diploma and everything.

So here’s what I’m asking for: rehire McGrath, Delgado and Orman immediately at much higher salaries. Then bring back Jim Henson back as well so he can do all of his characters again. Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking he’s dead as a doornail at this point and only God or Satan can bring people back from the dead. Well, I like to think that Sesame Street is a power and force roughly as powerful as God and the devil, so I think it’s well within your powers to bring Henson back from the dead for a non-new, non-retooled Sesame Street that will be exactly like I remember from before. Exactly.

If you want to bring back former cast member Raul Julia as well, that’d be great too. I love that guy. Look, all I’m asking is for nothing to ever change with Sesame Street ever again, because change is terrifying and wrong and everything must be exactly how it was before.

I think these suggestions and demands are reasonable. I look forward to you getting back to me at your earliest convenience.


Nathan Rabin