Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? It seems to have moved. The legendary children’s educational program debuted Saturday (Jan. 16) on the premium cable network HBO, after spending its first 45 seasons on US public television.
The first two episodes of the new season are available for streaming if you are an HBO subscriber.
The new HBO set has been criticized for appearing to gentrify Sesame Street’s fictional TV neighborhood. Grover’s apartment now has stained glass windows and corrugated iron walls that wouldn’t look out of place in hipster-positive areas like Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Hooper’s Store now looks like it serves a mean flat white, and the street now appears to have its own communal garden.
As Carmen Osbahr, a puppeteer on Sesame Street for 26 years, told The New York Times: “When Sesame Street was created, it was kind of more like New York Bronx. Now, Oscar has a recycling can.”
It’s not just the set that has gone upscale: A show created to educate as many children as possible, as Gawker’s Tom Scocca noted, will now be broadcast first to a premium cable network with a US subscriber base of about 28 million households—about a fifth of the total. HBO costs about $20 a month, depending on the cable provider, or $15 month for online streaming service HBO Now.
Iconic characters such as Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Bert and Ernie appear less often in the revamped Sesame Street, but critics have said that the most jarring change is that HBO changed the show’s format from an hour to 30 minutes, to make it easier for kids to focus. Otherwise, “it’s close to business as usual,” wrote Vulture’s Margaret Lyons.
The show was followed on HBO by Rio 2 and Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb, meaning any kids who kept watching after it was over were not likely to encounter Game of Thrones, Girls, Veep, or any of HBO’s less kid-friendly content.