As a child born in the 1970s and raised in the 1980s, the “golden era” of Sesame Street is a huge part of my upbringing. This was back when it was still uncommon to see a racially integrated cast being nice to people, before people could see Snuffalupagus, and before Mr. Hooper passed away and taught a generation of kids how to grieve.
But as with any show that’s been around for 50 years, times change and our perceptions of what is and is not acceptable to show to kids has also changed. The early years of Sesame Street could actually be described as somewhat edgy and even radical, and there were numerous sketches, films, and movies that were poured into my eyeballs back then that would NEVER fly today. Today, we’re going to look at some of those.
And why not? Does anyone really want to discuss another Tottenham Hotspur loss in great detail? Let’s instead look back at some old clips of a puppet show and wonder how it was that my generation didn’t end up even more f—ked up than we already are.
Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings for their match against Manchester United to the theme of Sesame Street sketches that probably couldn’t be aired on today’s show.
5 stars: The Counting Baker
Oh my goodness. Where to begin with this one? These films, featuring the numbers 1-10, were all over the place in Sesame Street episodes in the 70s and 80s. Not only do they feature kids tonelessly scream-singing about numbers, the animation at certain points was enough to possibly invoke a seizure. The coup-de-grace, of course, was the Baker, who capped off the celebration of a particular number by falling down a flight of stairs holding baked goods. Hilarious to kids? Absolutely. But if you think that my brother and I didn’t pretend to (and sometimes actually attempt to) fall down stairs imitating this sketch when we were kids, you’re kidding yourself. I sometimes wonder how many broken arms these films directly led to.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as good (bad? good?) as this category.
4 stars: The Mad Painter
The premise of these films, again a series designed to teach kids numbers, was a bearded hippie dude with a can of paint and a paintbrush who would go around painting numbers on random things. Cute yes, but also kinda disturbing — who’s this creepy rando dude in a raincoat and why’s he painting the number 4 on that lady’s umbrella? Hey mom, can I do that TOO?
Nobody in this category either.
3.5 stars: Don Music
Don Music was a tortured Muppet musician with a severe lack of confidence and the inability to remember the ends of nursery rhymes. He would emphasize his ongoing ennui through interviews with Muppet News reporter Kermit by lapsing into despair and banging his head against the keyboard. Sounds like a great role model, right? As a young musician who struggled through piano lessons early in life, was this something I did to the astonishment and dismay of my mother? You bet it was.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 3.5): His goal was well taken and a lot more difficult than it looked in real time. I won’t give him credit for getting United’s first goal called back as he got hit in the face and it was a foul. Faded along with the rest of the team in the 2nd half but was one of the only offensive sparks.
Tanguy Ndombele (Community — 3.0): Had a key pass in the buildup for Spurs’ goal. I was perhaps as impressed with his first half performance as anyone in the side. Got shifted around in the second half which reduced his effectiveness and was subbed.
3 stars: Lefty the Salesman
Lefty was a super shifty Sesame Street Muppet who wore a trench coat and hat, and would slink around trying to take advantage of Ernie. He’d try to sell Ernie numbers (“Psst, buddy, wanna buy a number 8?”), or a bottle of air, or an invisible ice cream cone, or an empty box for the low, low price of “just one nickel.” He didn’t last too long on the show. Hard to imagine today’s kids watching a character like Lefty and not sussing out that Lefty was one bad deal away from either calling his Muppet henchmen to take Ernie out at the knees, or just give up the pretense and show Ernie his muppet junk under that trench coat.
Harry Kane (Community — 3.0): Had the hockey assist for Sonny’s goal, and got a few decent shots away on goal despite basically getting no service for the whole of the second half. One of those games where he wasn’t great but it’s hard to fault him for it.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.0): Man, what more could he do? Made a couple of good stops but got hung out to dry defensively.
Pierre Hojbjerg (Community — 3.0): Spurs’ midfield was stretched beyond its limits by a combination of Paul Pogba and Spurs’ weird tactics. Hard to know if Pierre’s good-not-great performance was down to fatigue, United, or managerial tactical naïvite. Probably a bit of everything.
Lucas Moura (Community — 3.0): Got the assist for Sonny’s goal and looked like he was really working hard on the right side of midfield. Didn’t always come off, but he was trying.
Giovanni Lo Celso (Community — 2.5): I can’t point to this match as exhibit A that he’s BACK and everything’s going to be okay, and he was essentially marked out of the match, but on more than one occasion I’d watch him make a simple completed pass and think “God, it’s good to see Gio.”
Joe Rodon (Community — 3.0): IDK, he was fine. We should play him more.
2.5 stars: Number Pinball
OK, real talk, I friggin’ LOVE these films and they remain one of the things I first think of when I recall watching Sesame Street when I was boy. But you can’t watch these (with vocals by the Pointer Sisters!) and not think that they are inspired by and emblematic of the amazing visions you’ll see by taking acid or psychedelic mushrooms. I mean, it was the ‘70s. Don’t do drugs, kids. But totally watch our drug-inspired animation.
Serge Aurier (Community — 2.5): Serge played like a guy who’s been on and off the bench so many times and is just completely checked out.
Eric Dier (Community — 2.0): To give Dier any lower would be to discount a number of good blocks he had over the course of the match. But lordy, he wasn’t great was he?
2 stars: Green Grover takes civil disobedience lessons from Muppet hippies
We’re going way back on this one, to a bygone era where Grover was green, kinda scruffy, and didn’t take s—t from ANYONE. I know the title is “first and last” but this is a countercultural film made by Jim Henson all about the subversion of authority. Don’t listen to the Man! First and last are meaningless constructs made by a governmental system that just wants to keep you in line! Break the chains of your fascist corporate overlords by refusing to be trampled and by embracing self actualization so as not to be first OR last! Rise up, Muppet proletariat! You have nothing to lose but the hands up your asses!
Sergio Reguilon (Community — 2.5): This might have been one of the worst matches I’ve seen Sergio play this season. United’s attackers can make life difficult for any defender, but Sergio got blown by on a number of occasions and didn’t make up for it going forward.
Moussa Sissoko (Community — 2.0): It’s not his fault he came on when he did, but what he did on the pitch (which was emphatically not much) certainly is.
Erik Lamela (Community — 2.0): Came on ostensibly for a little of the ol’ ultra-violence, but didn’t make an impact in his 12 minute cameo.
Jose Mourinho (Community — 1.5): Mourinho’s complicity in this match has already been discussed to death, and I won’t rehash it here. It was bad. He’s bad. It’s past time for a change. Also, you don’t ruin the bit.
1 star: Kermit Yells at Cookie Monster
Kermit tries to teach Cookie Monster about emotions such as happy, mad, and sad. Unfortunately, he does this via object lessons where he screams at Cookie for eating something Kermit doesn’t like, calling him “YOU BIG DUMB STUPID ROTTEN MONSTER” and threatening to tell his friends so they don’t play with him anymore. One of the rare examples of Kermit being an absolute dick, and you can draw a direct path between this sketch and Cookie eventually being forced to eat healthier and refer to cookies as “a sometimes food.” Cookie didn’t hurt nobody. Childhood ruined. Thanks a lot, you asshole amphibian. #FreeCookie
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as Kermit yelling at Cookie Monster.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating