Reviewed by Adam Donato
Most people who grew up with a television set know what Sesame Street is. Marilyn Agrelo directed a documentary to showcase the origin of this iconic children’s franchise. The documentary is based on the book by Michael Davis and features many of the original filmmakers that made the show happen giving interviews about their experiences. The story details the revolutionary movement in children’s television, a show for kids with the intent to educate.
It’s really sweet seeing all these people come together to do something good. The most interesting part of the documentary was finding out how much more good that the show was responsible for. Sesame Street was more than just teaching the alphabet and numbers. The show was basically a topic of political discussion as it had its finger on the pulse of the civil rights movement. The entertainment industry may just be that, for entertainment, but its got a large impact on how people perceive the world. For the youth of America, Sesame Street was instrumental for early childhood development.
The cast mainly focuses on some of the more essential creators of the show, along with Jim Henson, some of the stars of the show, and members of the crew. One of the more poignant parts of the documentary is when they address the passing of one of the important members of the show. Obviously, this was hard for the cast, but the brilliant decision was to give it to the kids straight. In one episode, they had Big Bird, a character who was very childlike in nature, react to the passing in an extremely authentic way. This is one of the more heart-wrenching moments as the documentary emphasizes the family vibe that the team had onset.
All the archive footage is magical, obviously. The biggest advantage of the documentary is the puppets themselves. They’re so colorful and fun to watch. There’s no doubt why this show was so popular. The interview footage is cut between short clips from the show, which is always humorous. It’s also interesting to see below the bottom of the screen. To see the puppeteers playing the characters on the show is cool. There’s so much thought that was put into the show that nobody really thinks about until they see this documentary and their eyes are opened to how important this show really was.
Just like the show, Street Gang can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. Even the kids will enjoy seeing the puppets on the screen. This documentary will really hit home for the older audience who definitely grew up with these characters. A lot of nostalgia to unpack. Check it out if for a wholesome good time.
Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street is now in theaters and hits VOD on May 7.