The long-running children’s show Sesame Street – which celebrates it’s 50th anniversary this year – is making another eye-catching effort to address the darker issues that may be affecting the lives of children and families who watch the show. They will be introducing a new character named Karli, whose mother has an opioid addiction, in order to discuss the issue with children watching the show who may live with a similar situation themselves.
According to a statement made by the The Guardian, over 5.7 million children in America live in a home affected by the Opioid epidemic, and the show-runners felt an obligation to have a serious conversation with children affected by this issue. This would be far from the first time that Sesame Street has covered a very adult issue for the sake of educating children. The show has famously had episodes that covered the loss of a family member, living with HIV, and racism just to name a few topics. In 2017 the show debuted the character of Julia, a young girl with autism, in order to educate children and parents about the topic, as well as to represent children with autism themselves. Admittedly, this advancement hit a snag when the show was briefly partnered with the infamously inflammatory organization Autism Speaks, though that partnership was cut off eventually and the character of Julia herself was received very well.
A senior content manager for the Sesame Workshop, Kama Einhorn commented on their decision to cover the Opioid Crisis in America by saying “There’s nothing else out there that addresses substance abuse for young, young kids from their perspective… Even a parent at their most vulnerable—at the worst of their struggle—can take one thing away when they watch it with their kids, then that serves the purpose.” Hopefully the issue is handled skillfully as Sesame Street has often done in the past, and children and parents who see the troubles of Karli and her mother play out can have an open conversation with each other, and be better for it by the end.