One Sesame Street muppet will now have a backstory that includes homelessness. But, your kids probably won’t see that fact depicted on TV. The character of Lily, first introduced in 2011 will now become the first Sesame Street muppet to be depicted as explicitly homeless. Sort of.
This week, Sherrie Westin, president of global impact and philanthropy for Sesame Workshop made a statement about a new an initiative surrounding the character Lily. “Lily is the first Muppet we’ve created whose storyline includes that she is experiencing homelessness,” she said. “When Lily was first launched, she came out as part of the food insecurity initiative. So she’s not brand new, but this seemed like a really perfect extension of her story so that we could use her to help children identify with.”
However, according to CNN, the storyline won’t actually show up in a televised version of Sesame Street. Instead, the fact that Lily is homeless will only be elucidated in a series of videos that will appear online only. These features will part of specific videos available on YouTube and the Sesame Workshop website.
So, the question really is this: if Lily the muppet is now homeless on Sesame Street, but the TV series doesn’t air any of these segments, does it really count? On the one hand, it’s great Sesame Street is doing something like this, mostly because it will help kids sympathize with real people going through this, and not marginalize homelessness ala’ Oscar the Grouch. On the other hand, it’s weird none of this will be on the “real” TV show. Raising awareness means raising awareness, right?
You can find a full list of all the Lily video features on the Sesame Street website right here.