Will Moving To HBO Affect ‘Sesame Street’? The New Season Is Making Some Bold Changes

When HBO announced that they would be airing new episodes of Sesame Street for the next five years, the news was greeted with trepidation. What's different about Sesame Street on HBO? For one thing, neither PBS nor HBO has commercial breaks. So that's a plus; that won't change. However, PBS is free and HBO costs a whole lot of cash. It's also one of the most explicit subscription networks out there, but worry not. HBO has had children's programming for ages. Remember Fraggle Rock? Babar? Where are my Worst Witch fans?

The first change, according to the official HBO press release, is that the episodes will be 30 minutes long instead of one hour, in an effort to focus childrens' attention on the story. That probably won't make a huge difference — anyone who has kids or has been around kids while they watch Sesame Street lately know that the last 20 minutes of the show are devoted to Elmo's World, anyway. They will be focused. There will also be a new set, new songs that open and close the show (but not too different, more of a remix), new cast members, and a new segment called "Smart Cookies" — a police procedural/mystery that teaches self-regulation.

Also, like, a ton of the pre-school aged muppets have moved. Elmo's in the brownstone. Cookie Monster is above Hooper's Store. Big Bird build a new nest. Even Oscar's trash can is in a different place. That's the most devastating to me personally, as a veteran Sesame Street viewer. I'm not sure I could tell you where everyone's apartment is, but that trashcan is an institution. He also has a recycling can now, which I'm actually fine with, as this show taught me about recycling way before it was cool. The New York Times compared the renovated set to Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Even Sesame Street isn't safe from gentrification.

Here's the trailer for the upcoming HBO season. See if you can spot any changes.

One of the good things about this move, especially if you think the new Sesame Street is too ritzy and different, is that they will be airing and streaming classic Sesame Street episodes as well as the new content. Which is great, because who would want to deny their child the beauty of throwbacks like this (and trying to explain to them who all of the celebrity cameos are):

Sesame Street on YouTube

So Sesame Street may be losing the rough edges that made the show so charming back in the day. That's definitely a bummer. However, the important thing is that it reach and educate kids, which I think the rest of the changes will accomplish.