Big Bird is schizophrenic. Elmo is a narcissist. Grover’s a megalomaniac. Cookie Monster is a binge eater. Oscar is a hoarder, Bert has Asperger’s, Ernie has ADD, The Count has OCD, and Aloysius Snuffleupagus is severely depressed (probably because his parents divorced).
Every Sesame Street monster embodies some form of personality disorder. But why would we choose such a cast for a beloved children’s show?
To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, “Fairy tales do not tell children monsters exist. Children already know that monsters exist. Fairy tales teach children that monsters can be killed.” Haven’t you ever wondered why it is that a children’s show stars monsters? Monsters aren’t generally considered to be cute and cuddly; if your child says that there is a monster under the bed, they think it wants to eat them, not sing the ABCs.
Sesame Street episodes are our modern day fairy tales. And the monsters are a warning.
They weren’t always monsters, you see. They used to be children.
The mental age of your average Sesame Street monster ranges from 3 to 6. Haven’t you ever wondered where their parents are? Sure, we often hear them speak of mommies (and very rarely daddies), but we almost never see them.
Every one of these characters has some terrible flaw that they let grab control of their life. It ultimately grew so large that it drove a wedge between them and the rest of their families, and transformed them into something other than human.
Fairy Tales teach us that we can defeat external monsters. Sesame Street teaches us that we need to watch out for the monsters inside of us as well.