HBO Documentary STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET, debuting MONDAY, DECEMBER 13 (10:00-11:47 p.m. ET/PT), is a rare window into the early days of “Sesame Street,” revealing the creators, artists, writers and educators who together established one of the most influential and enduring children’s programs in television history. The documentary focuses on the first two experimental and groundbreaking decades of “Sesame Street,” highlighting this visionary “gang” that audaciously interpreted radical changes in society and engaged children in ways that entertained and educated in new and innovative ways.
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET will debut on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max.
In the late 1960s, television executive Joan Ganz Cooney and Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett took on a revolutionary experiment: to harness the burgeoning power of television and create an educational, impactful and entertaining show that could reach children nationwide. Cooney saw the power that advertising had to use music and images to engage audiences and sell products. She sought to harness that kind of creative energy to sell education and drive culture and knew she would need to enlist trailblazing talent to execute.
She recruited visionary Muppets creator Jim Henson and acclaimed children’s television writer and director Jon Stone to craft the iconic and uplifting world of “Sesame Street.” The creative team knew their bold vision would only move the needle if it appealed to both children and their parents. Inspired by the civil rights movement, Cooney took this one step further, envisioning a program that would not only entertain and educate children, but specifically reach urban communities with less advantaged children with low socioeconomic status, in an effort to fight the educational gap that racism and poverty created.
This revealing documentary explores how the team incorporated groundbreaking puppetry, clever animation, short films, music, humor and cultural references into each episode, ensuring it was engaging enough to keep children and parents coming back, and never shying away from difficult conversations with children.
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET, inspired by the New York Times’ bestselling book “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street” by Michael Davis, features exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and over 20 original cast and creator interviews. They tell us in their own words about how “the gang” came together, staying committed to their original mission through decades of political and social change, and through it all maintaining a wicked sense of humor and joy.
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET is directed by Marilyn Agrelo; produced by Trevor Crafts, Ellen Scherer Crafts, Lisa Diamond; executive producers, Brian O’Shea, Nat McCormick, Matthew Helderman, Luke Taylor, Mark Myers, Heather Kenyon; co-executive producer, Michael Davis; editor, Ben Gold. For HBO: executive producers, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller; coordinating producer, Anna Klein.