Honestly, at what point do we consider Sesame Street right alongside every other company who, under the pretense of early education, uses a television show to sell your kid toys and books and videos and gear?
The Times has an article about the big debut of a new, female muppet star, Abby Cadabby, who--cross your licensing fingers--may just be the next Elmo-scale success for Sesame Workshop.
So what was the concept, EVP/Creative Director, Elizabeth Nealon?
We wanted a lead female character. If you think about ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show,’ some girls relate to Rhoda, who’s our Zoe, and some girls really relate to Mary, who’s a girly girl. And we didn’t have that girl.That's a big freakin' "if," ladies. And besides, 'That Girl' was Marlo Thomas.
The real(er) reasons are a little more obvious and a helluva lot more contemporary: the supposedly progressive educators behind the show finally woke up to a 35+ year long gender inequity in their midst. HAHA KIDDING.
It was the absence of a compelling value proposition in the girl toy segment, something that could compete for share of wallet against Dora, Disney Princesses and the upcoming Tinker Bell: The Movie. Thus, Abby the sparkly fairy was focus grouped into being:
All versions featured various shades of pink- or lavender-toned skin, colors that would “work well next to Elmo,” who is red, Ms. [Rosemary] Truglio [EVP, Education & Research] said. “That was not up for discussion."By "next to," I'm assuming she means "on the shelf."
Look, I'm not paranoid or cranky; it just seems to me that the playing field needs to be leveled. When a Sesame Workshop executive says the following, I have a hard time ascribing any exceptionalist educational goodwill to their programming: There are so many cute things out there,” [said Maura Regan, VP, Global Consumer Products] “but in order to make them want one doll over another, I think the real deciding factor is how much they’ve connected with the Muppet from the show. And you’ve got to be able to capture that.”
PS did you know that blond muppet in the blue dress is named Prairie Dawn? Here's a picture of her next to Margaret Cho, who swears circles around ex-Sprout Melanie. Go figure.