Honestly? I’m always a little weirded out when Sesame Street does these kinds of parodies of very Adult shows. Someone could prove me wrong on this, but I believe it is very much a post-Henson development, doing parodies of shows like Twin Peaks or Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
It’s probably my natural inclination to be a little bit skeptical of Muppetwork since the passing of Jim Henson, and I’m probably guilty of some hypocrisy here, but I think for an “all ages” show like Sesame Street to be dabbling in references to shows that feature SUCH dark subject matter is a little creepy.
I mean, L&O: SVU is specifically a show that deals with sex crimes, so I find it a little bit hard to take when the world of Sesame Street does even a harmless parody.
(Having said that, a lot of my very favorite things contain stuff that parents ‘get’ that go right over kids’ heads— Pixar movies, The Simpsons, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Looney Tunes… I think there’s just something specific to the innocence of Sesame Street, I don’t like it referencing stuff like Twin Peaks or SVU.)
It wouldn’t even bother me as much if it was The Muppet Show doing it. I guess I just think of Sesame Street as a safe place.
"Come on, these harmless tips of the hat to parents are what make sesame street so great. There is no way this could “harm” kids or make sesame street less safe. If anything, it’s exposing them to cultural tropes without having to actually be exposed."
And here’s my answer: sure, I sort of acknowledged this in my answer and I never directly said this would cause any harm to kids. I think it’s fair to be creeped out by it, though.
Twin Peaks is a show that has a main plot that involves almost every manner of sordid cultural taboo and features some of the darkest and most disturbing subject matter imaginable. L&O: SVU is a show about sex crimes, full stop.
I also think it would be weird and creepy if Sesame Street did a parody of the 1970s porno movie Deep Throat, or of Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer. There are just a lot of things in the culture that Sesame Street could choose to parody, and I find it creepy that no one in the room said, “okay, fine, let’s do a Law & Order parody but let’s drop the “Special Letters Unit” gag because it is very specifically making this a reference the Law & Order show that is about sex crimes, and that’s weird.” Yes, I know that the “Special Letters Unit” helps clarify Sesame Street’s “take” on L&O, but it also makes it a direct reference to the show about sex crimes.
I also think it’s weird that they would parody Mad Men, too, but it’s slightly less creepy because a lot of its darker themes are sort of murkier and most people just think of it as a harmless show about a 60s ad agency, it’s not a show about a teenage girl who was raped and murdered and wrapped in plastic. I’m saying this as a fan of Twin Peaks who has watched the occasional SVU episode: those are questionable things for Sesame Street to have parodied, and it weirds me out, and what I mean by Sesame Street being a “safe place” is that it should be, let’s say, at least two degrees away from shows that deal overtly with incest. Sesame Street had dealt directly with a lot of heavy themes, but they famously never aired the episode that dealt with divorce because it was too upsetting to kids. I assume they have never even attempted to do a show about incest, but they have spoofed shows that deal directly with incest, and I’m saying maybe it’s less weird to spoof something else, regardless of how much of a fun thing it might be for parents to see those spoofs?
SPOILER ALERT FOR THE MOVIE CHINATOWN
GO WATCH CHINATOWN AND THEN COME BACK AND READ THIS PARAGRAPH:
I’d also be weirded out if they did a parody of Chinatown and used the “She’s my sister! She’s my daughter! She’s my sister AND my daughter!” scene to help explain something innocuous about sisters and daughters, even though I’m sure they could do a harmless one that would be fine for kids and only remind savvy parents that Faye Dunaway’s character gave birth to her own father’s child.
All I’m saying is that if I was in the room for that idea being pitched, I’d be the one saying “Hey guys, how about we spoof one of, say, a hundred OTHER things than that, because we are Sesame Street and we are not required to spoof everything. Let’s avoid the ones about rape & incest.”
But that’s just me! I’m just weirded out by it, and I’m sure there are things I’m fine with that are not consistent with this. And I do believe I’m more or less right that this stuff didn’t happen when Jim Henson was calling the shots, although maybe I’m just not aware of an example of a Sesame Street parody of Rosemary’s Baby or The Accused or something.
I’m sure they could do a terrific 50 Shades Of Grey parody that would go viral but I’ll bet that they won’t for a lot of the same reasons that I’ve cited for why I find it creepy that they did Twin Peaks and L&O: SVU. But maybe I’m wrong and they WILL do a funny spoof of 50 Shades, and they’ll use it to teach about numbers and colors, and it’ll be absolutely fine but also unnecessary and it’ll weird me out a little!
Also: J.D. I don’t think these spoofs are “what made Sesame Street so great.” Other things made it great, and these are a more recent phenomenon that occurred in the post-Henson Elmo years. Sesame Street is still great and important and carries on Henson’s legacy, but these spoofs of TV shows are from the post-Simpsons era of South Park and Family Guy, they are an example of the show sort of rolling with the times a bit and I don’t associate these spoofs— which are not without their charms, for adults, sure— as what made Sesame Street great.