The terrific documentary “Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street” features awesome archival footage that takes viewers behind the scenes of the hit children’s television show. Based on the best selling book by Michael Davis, director Marilyn Agrelo‘s film explores the origins of the show and dives deep with intimate video clips from the past, classic scenes from the PBS series, and extensive interviews with the creative visionaries that changed the world of kid’s t.v. forever.
Even if you aren’t a fan of “Sesame Street,” there is so much to love about this film. There’s an extensive history about how the show came to be, including the earliest ideas of using advertising techniques to educated instead of sell to children. There’s Joan Ganz Cooney, who had the brilliant idea of using the medium as a tool to make a quality program that could teach young children through entertainment. One by one, talented innovators were added to the roster, including legendary puppeteer Jim Henson and director Jon Stone, two men who had a huge amount of influence and impact on the show’s success.
The documentary is fast paced and packs in a ton of information in a neat and orderly way. It’s assembled well and is so compelling that I wish the film had been longer. There are countless nuggets of information revealed here, like the fact that the show’s target audience was inner city black children, and that this multicultural representation that was years ahead of its time was actually once banned by broadcast stations in Mississippi. It’s a treasure trove of trivia that will delight anyone familiar with Big Bird, Maria, Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Kermit, Gordon, and the crew.
“Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street” is a time capsule celebration of the revolutionary cultural phenomenon.
By: Louisa Moore