Sesame St S5: Highlights #3




From the adorable to the bizarre-verging-on-unsettling, the next sketch is another twist on the Anything-Muppet-without-a-face-has-its-features-attached scenario, however this time it is a male Anything Muppet attaching various features to a lady Anything Muppet who he fancies, and then, when she expresses her clear disinterest in him, he begins to remove each part one by one, while singing a Jeff Moss-penned song, “I Want to Hold Your Ear”. And I’m of two minds about this one.


On the one hand, it features a delightfully warped sense of humor, particularly in regards to the song itself, which is a funny over-literalization of the idea behind songs such as The Beatles’ classic “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. Here, he wants to literally hold her various parts in his hand. But that also brings us to the other hand, which it’s more than a little creepy on numerous levels, both due to the idea of him taking her apart as well as that, today, it can’t help but feel sexist–both the idea of him “creating” her beauty and then stripping it away when she doesn’t fall in line.


The face has a crush.

The face has a crush.

On the other other hand, there is something to be said for the fact that she couldn’t care less about the fact that he’s removed all of the features he’d attached to her. She didn’t care that he put them on, and she doesn’t care that he’s taken them off. Throughout, she stands her ground and refuses to budge. So one could argue that, although he tried to mold her into his idea of beauty, she refused to accept it and so this could be interpreted under a feminist lens.


Which you could also extend to the end, in which the face he had discarded actually animates on the cloth underneath him and itself expresses desire for him, which he in turn spurns in horror, this new creation now starting to chase after him, a terrific subversion but, again, a deeply weird sketch that feels more like something from one of the late-night Muppet variety acts versus Sesame Street! You can check it out here.


Finally for today, we have 2 live-action sketches, the first of which is simply cute but the second of which is also strikingly revealing of the shifting times when it was produced. In the first, David–or rather “David the Daring,” as Maria announces him–performs a feat of strength. He does a somersault forwards and then, through rewinding magic, does one backwards! The main reason I chose to watch this clip though is the adorably flamboyant outfit they had him in for the scene. There are figure skaters who might find this a bit much. Check it out here.


The doctors confer.

The doctors confer.

But the next one is extremely interesting in that it subverts expectation about gender roles twice. Firstly, it begins with a group of surgeons played by Susan, Luis, and David, ready to perform a complex operation, and over the moon about the fact that they’ll be working with the “world’s most famous doctor”. And that doctor just so happens to be a woman, played by Maria! As the scene progresses, she carries herself with all of the gravitas one expects of male head surgeons in medical dramas, even as her requests for tools might leave one scratching one’s head–a wrench?! pliers?! a drill?! a screwdriver?! And then, we learn the twist: they’re actually mechanics fixing a motorcycle!


The concept of showing a woman not only being a mechanic but working on such a stereotypically testosterone-driven vehicle feels practically revolutionary here. Particularly compared to some of their questionable depiction of women earlier on, this really feels like the feminist revolution finally made it to the street, and even more so than Stockard Channing’s appearance as a doctor in one of the “Mad Painter” films due to how such masculine-coded imagery is so effectively turned on its head. You can watch the scene here.


And finally today we have Lena Horne singing the Alphabet Song with a group of Anything Muppets. Not much more to add beyond that but it’s a sweet, classic scene that, as with “How Do You Do” with Grover shows off her open-hearted, joyful relationship with Jim Henson’s creations:



And on Thursday, we will have our final batch of Season 5 clips, all revolving around Bert and Ernie!


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