(CNN) — “Sesame Street” may not be a real place, but tell that to some of the people Michael Davis met when researching and talking about his new book, “Street Gang.
“I met a lot of people who I worked with in New York or got to know in New York — transplants — who said to me, ‘When I first arrived here in New York, I had this strange desire to find Sesame Street,’ ” he said.
Well, to paraphrase the famous theme song, who wouldn’t want to get to “Sesame Street”?
For two generations, the fictional block of brownstones inhabited by curious children, friendly adults and some odd-looking Muppets has helped shape childhood education by offering exercises, games and life lessons all wrapped up in a television-friendly format. It’s a model that’s proved durable and influential, says Syracuse University pop culture professor Robert Thompson.
“If I were to make a list of the top 10 most significant American TV shows … I’d put ‘Sesame Street’ on the list. The fact that it’s still on the air attests to its [significance],” he said.
“The idea they came up with was kind of radical: If you can sell kids sugared cereal and toys using Madison Avenue techniques, why couldn’t you use the same techniques for teaching counting, the alphabet and basic social skills? And it works.”