The 10 Most Head-Shakingly Inappropriate Sesame Street Parody Sketches

By Jay Barish in Daily Lists, TV
Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8:08 am
Like many of you, I grew up watching Sesame Street, but the show of today is nothing like it was back then. For one thing, they do more parodies of TV shows-- a lot more, a number which is up from the zero I remember from my childhood. Granted, after 42 seasons, they may be running out of ideas, and their "Change-O-Bots" sketch was petty damn entertaining, but it still doesn't explain why so many of the parodies are of explicitly adult programs. Perhaps, in a world where there are plenty of choices for children's programming, Sesame wants to put out a product that parents will choose because they like it, too? Smart thinking, and the only reason I can find to explain "30 Rocks," but I really have to question the decision to present kiddified versions of late-night dramas to pre-schoolers. I'm sure plenty of you will call it harmless fun, but here are ten of the most disturbing parodies in my eyes, although I expect this list to change once they figure out how to make The Walking Dead into a sketch about counting.

10) "G" (Glee)

While Glee is largely presented (and accepted) as family entertainment, its focus on teens and equally hormonal adults keeps sex in the forefront of its subject matter. And while the glee club's lone gay member, Kurt, is frequently part of the most chaste storylines, he is also what can only be described as a walking stereotype. Interior decorating, singing showtunes... the complete package. And yet, somehow, Sesame Street has managed to make Kurt even more stereotypically flamboyant, simply by explaining that "G" is for gasp, glitter and GORGEOUUUUUS! Also, Sue Sylvester makes a joke about M. Schuester's proclivity for hair gel, which, I'm sorry, no.

9) "RSI: Rhyme Scene Investigation" (CSI)

Sesame's parody of The Closer is a little disturbing, with its syrupy-sweet of Kyra Sedgwick Muppet, but it at least teaches the difference between "open" and "closed" in a fun and clever way. Meanwhile, in this "RSI" sketch, the act of rhyming is made to seem utterly dire and procedural. Also, call me old-fashioned, but I think we need to protect our children from David Caruso.

8) "Smell Like a Monster" (Old Spice Commercials)

Grover is usually naked, but for some reason it's hard to deal with Grover in a towel, trying to seduce us with his eyes and offering us tickets to an event of some kind. Maybe it's the original actor's raw sexuality coming through in the parody, maybe it's the commercial's flexible sense of reality, or maybe it's just the fact that Muppets shouldn't advertise personal hygiene products designed to make you more attractive to the opposite sex. Don't make me want to smell Grover's musk.

7) "Mad Men" (Uh, Mad Men)

They don't even bother to change the name -- or the premise -- of the AMC drama for this sketch, in which 1960s advertising executive Don Draper emotionally analyzes several pitches from underlings for a big honey account. Nobody sleeps with their secretary or has a drinking problem, but we do get to see Muppets quiver with rage and suck up to their superiors. Sure, kids learn the difference between "mad," "sad" and "happy" from this sketch, but they also learn the word "sycophant," which I'm not sure is such a good thing. (As an alternative, I recommend the classic "Twelve Angry Men", which manages to educate and entertain without actually re-enacting the terse courtroom drama.)

6) "The Heaviest Catch" (The Deadliest Catch)

Deep-sea crab fishing has never seemed so much fun as in this sketch, which morphs the original show's unflinching look at the pressures and dangers of the job into a wacky chase for heavier and heavier sea creatures. And yet the sketch carries over many of the show's most disturbing themes: the captain obsesses over heaviness quotas, is injured by falling clams and squid, and the entire ship sinks at the end from too much weight. The only way it could be more like the original would be if it was implied that the captain had a fatal heart condition. Wait... his name is "Captain Heartburn"? Oy.

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