There’s a long history in children’s television songs being composed by decidedly un-child friendly writers. Disney’s in-house writers for a half-decade were Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who got their Broadway start with dirty, nasty, funny musicals like God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and Little Shop of Horrors; and in recent years they’ve turned to Robert and Kristen Lopez, who are known for naughty, silly musicals like In Transit, Avenue Q, and The Book Of Mormon. And while they tend to lean more on the works of Jeff Moss, the iconic Sesame Street has gone outside of their normal wheelhouse to hire musicians as well, including Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie and Paul with “Rainbow Connection” (technically Muppet writers, but the Muppets started in the Streets). So the fact that the upcoming 2021 Sesame Street big-screen movie would hire someone known for more adult humor should come as no surprise to audiences. However, even those who expect big gets like this are shocked to learn who they hired this time around.
Eighth Grade writer/director Bo Burnham has officially signed on to provide the music and lyrics for Sesame Street, the newest adventure for Elmo, Big Bird, Grover, Oscar, Bert, Ernie, and the rest of the gang. This is a massive get, and yet something of a confusing/shocking one. Burnham is fresh off and award-winning run for Eighth Grade, having nabbed the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay. So his clout is definitely on the rise. And he’s clearly a musical virtuoso, having started his career as a child lyrical genius. However, that’s precisely why I’m so confused by this decision. Burnham’s songs were ingenious in their vulgarity, and Shakespearean in their innuendo. He was Eminem mixed with Shakespeare mixed with Veep (don’t believe me? Listen to “High School Party” below, one of the funniest songs I’ve ever heard and also a master of wordplay). The fact he’s writing the songs for a Sesame Street movie baffles me, but I’m wholly onboard – not only will this bring some spice to the film, but perhaps it will bring Burnham one step closer to his inevitable Oscar.
Sesame Street will tell the story of a young reporter, played by Anne Hathaway, who is laughed out of newsrooms for her insistence that there is a real street in the shadows of New York City called “Sesame Street,” inhabited by humans and puppets and Muppets alike. Disgraced and dejected, her chances look up when she finds Big Bird, Elmo, Oscar, and the gang traversing the real streets of New York City, having been evicted by the Evil Mayor of New York City (I’m sure they’ll give him a fake name, but I’m just going to call him Bill De Blasio). Now, the reporter and the gang of childhood pals must work together to find out if anyone can “tell them how to get, how to get to Sesame Street.” Burnham will also be balancing the songs with his follow-up film starring Danielle Macdonald and Jaboukie Young-White, which is currently untitled, but sounds an awful lot like his currently-unproduced screenplay Gay Kid And Fat Chick (I’ve read the screenplay, and it’s great). Sesame Street will begin filming in April of 2020, and should hit theatres early 2021.
Please Note: If you are a child who Googled Sesame Street to find out more about this movie, please do not watch the video posted below. It is NSFW, and I do not wish to traumatize you