Author Topic: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic  (Read 5952 times)

Eric S

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Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« on: October 18, 2012, 04:21:17 AM »
I was reading on wikipedia about an episode of Sesame Street that was meant to directly address the subject of divorce: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snuffy%27s_Parents_Get_a_Divorce

It's an interesting entry, and I find it fascinating that they weren't successful. For those who don't want to bother reading the full entry, the 1992 episode was supposed to have the parents of Mr. Snuffleupagus get a divorce. This included the human characters clarifying for various kids and Muppet characters what divorce is and what it isn't, and allaying their obvious fears. Why it seems to have failed as an episode is up for debate, but the outcome was that the kids in the test audience didn't really get it. To quote from the article:

"The final episode addressed the advisors' concerns via a conversation in which Gordon reassures Elmo, Big Bird, and Telly that "Just because parents have an argument, or get upset with each other, doesn't mean they're getting a divorce... Or that they don't love each other anymore." He also reassured Snuffy and his sister Alice that it's not their fault, "No, not even if you spill something."
 
The reassurances had little effect on the test viewers, however, especially taken in conjunction with the rest of the episode. While Mommy Snuffleupagus had appeared irregularly, Snuffy's father has only appeared in the book See You Later, Mashed Potater!. When he does appear in the episode, arriving for a weekend visit, Alice attempts to bring him inside, but he reminds her that "I don't live here anymore." Children were unclear on where Snuffy's parents lived, especially the father, and believed that Daddy "ran away and Snuffy and Alice would never see their father again."
 
The realistic depiction of the Snuffleupagus children struggling emotionally with the issue also proved troubling. In one scene, as Alice overhears her parents arguing in the next cave, she pounds and kicks her teddy bear out of frustration. Singer weighed in on the reactions, which despite the care taken, revealed both emotional responses and misunderstandings of the very points which the script attempted to clarify:
 

The kids came away with negative messages ... The kids said she stabbed the teddy bear with a knife. The kids misunderstood arguments. They said arguments did mean divorce. Some thought Snuffy's parents were moving away even though we said just the opposite. A number said the parents would no longer be in love with them.


On a tangent, someone involved with Sesame Strett said that it was meant to "comfort the afflicted" and instead it "afflicted the calm". I really like that description.

Anyway, it's intersting that MRN was able to handle this subject so skillfully. I don't see any way that a kid could be upset watching the Divorce week of MRN. If they had no idea what divorce was, I don't see those MRN episodes bothering them. They are certainly less fluffy fair then usual, but there doesn't seem to be anything scary about them. The King and Queen arguing, and Prince Tuesday's worrying that this arguement will lead to a divorce are clearly defined as Make Believe, and used to just set up the discussion. However, on Sesame Street, there is none of that Real World vs. Make Believe distinction. The much beloved character of Snuffy is really going through this traumatic event and while everyone assures him that they'll be there to help him, it doesn't sound like it's an academic situation being presented for the kids to think about, so much as just a frightening childhood car accident that viewers could be glad they weren't personally involved in.

What do you all think?

earnhardtfan4life

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 08:28:08 AM »
Being an avid Sesame Street fan in the 80s and 90s, I seem to remember a series of episodes where Luis and Maria have there share of spats and arguments and it makes it look like they are headed for serious trouble; however that isn't the case.  Much like how the King and Queen would argue to make it look like they are headed for serious trouble.   

To be honest, Sesame Street is the type of program that a kid would have watched to put their mind off what was going on in the home anyway.

Mike

JAO93

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2012, 12:33:51 AM »
I generally viewed Sesame Street as entertainment, MRN was the show to learn from.

Aaendi

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2012, 09:30:20 AM »
I generally viewed Sesame Street was a show for a younger audience than MRN.  When I was little I didn't notice it, but when I was 8 years old I watched both shows for nostalgia, and I realized how great Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was.  I was able to follow the NOMB story lines much better.

MIKEBENNIDICT

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2012, 03:32:01 PM »
Both shows are for the same age group.

Aaendi

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2012, 08:52:25 PM »
I never liked Sesame Street that much.  I used to find myself bored sitting through all those boring short animated segments, waiting to seeing characters like Cookie Monster and Elmo.

mitsguy2001

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2012, 11:11:26 AM »
I generally viewed Sesame Street was a show for a younger audience than MRN.  When I was little I didn't notice it, but when I was 8 years old I watched both shows for nostalgia, and I realized how great Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was.  I was able to follow the NOMB story lines much better.

I was never really a fan of Sesame Street, but I was (obviously) a huge fan of MRN when I was a kid.  At the time, I always assumed MRN was for older kids than MRN (as Aaendi said) and that I had outgrown Sesame Street.  However, Betty Aberlin has posted several times here (and said in an interview) that MRN was for younger kids than Sesame Street.

Betty: if you are still posting here, did anyone (such as Fred, the "FCI suits" as you call them, PBS, etc) ever officially say that MRN was intended for a younger audience than Sesame Street?  Or is that just your own personal opinion?

One other possibility is that maybe the target age group of both shows could have changed over time.  Maybe I saw MRN episodes that were targeted to an older age group than the Seasme Street episodes I've seen.  I don't know how many Seasme Street episodes Betty has seen (I assume she's seen most, if not all MRN episodes), so maybe she saw ones that were targeted to older kids?

Aaendi

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2012, 12:16:58 PM »
Maybe it's because children learn the alphabet at an earlier age than they did in 1969.

When I watched MRN when I was 8 or 9 year olds, the NOMB segments got more entertaining because I understood the "cliff hanger" story format, and how the MRN episodes were organized into weeks, instead of standalone episodes.

mjb1124

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2012, 02:38:10 PM »
Sesame Street definitely has a younger and narrower target age group now than it did in the 70's and 80's.   That's a big part of the reason why a lot of the attempts to make the show entertaining to adults has gone by the wayside, in favor of really cutesy stuff like Elmo's World.

As for MRN, I think it was primarily aimed at preschool and maybe early elementary school children.   But I do think that MRN definitely has more educational benefits for older children and even adults, while Sesame Street pretty much just becomes entertainment once you learn your ABC's, 123's, and the other basic things they teach.   (Of course, in its prime, I think it was very good entertainment.)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 02:42:15 PM by mjb1124 »

mitsguy2001

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2012, 04:53:52 PM »
Sesame Street definitely has a younger and narrower target age group now than it did in the 70's and 80's.   That's a big part of the reason why a lot of the attempts to make the show entertaining to adults has gone by the wayside, in favor of really cutesy stuff like Elmo's World.

As for MRN, I think it was primarily aimed at preschool and maybe early elementary school children.   But I do think that MRN definitely has more educational benefits for older children and even adults, while Sesame Street pretty much just becomes entertainment once you learn your ABC's, 123's, and the other basic things they teach.   (Of course, in its prime, I think it was very good entertainment.)

I agree with what you are saying?  But I am still curious to hear if what Betty has said about the age groups was official information (that we may choose to respectfully disagree with) or if it was her own opinion (which, again, we may choose to respectfully disagree with).

Aaendi

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2012, 06:24:57 PM »
How did Sesame Street manage the "Mr Hooper Dies" episode anyway?  Did they cut out usage of random segments and short films for that particular episode?  It would've been a little inappropriate and disrespectful to abruptly cut from a scene of Big Bird crying, to a "Let's sing about words that start with the letter C" segment.

MIKEBENNIDICT

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2012, 06:39:31 PM »
I remember seeing the episode and it was no different than a normal SS episode of that time.

Matter of fact they're should be a clip of the segment on YT where the adults explain the situation to BB.

bka

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2012, 08:16:58 AM »
I was told the focus was 2-4 year olds.....

mitsguy2001

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2012, 11:07:37 AM »
How did Sesame Street manage the "Mr Hooper Dies" episode anyway?  Did they cut out usage of random segments and short films for that particular episode?  It would've been a little inappropriate and disrespectful to abruptly cut from a scene of Big Bird crying, to a "Let's sing about words that start with the letter C" segment.

One thing I've wondered about is, whether or not that episode ever reran.  I've read conflicting info.  I've read that it reran 6 months later, on May 24, 1984, and that it was hard for kids, since they weren't expecting it.  But I've read elsewhere that it never reran, in order to avoid the possibility of kids accidently discovering it.  Maybe it depended on the individual PBS affiliate.

mitsguy2001

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Re: Sesame Street Fumbles a MRN Topic
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2012, 11:08:47 AM »
I was told the focus was 2-4 year olds.....

Was that by Fred?  If so, then it's interesting that everyone here seems to think that MRN was for slightly older kids than SS.  Again, I wonder if the target age group of one or both shows changed over time.