Sesame Street, now on HBO, continues a great tradition of brilliant television parodies

Moving on up.
Moving on up.
Image: Scott Roth/Invision/AP
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Despite moving to a new neighborhood in the form of a premium cable network, Sesame Street feels right at home alongside the prestige TV it has long skewered gently in the name of children’s education.

The show announced in August that episodes from its newest season would first air on HBO instead of its long-standing original home on public television. But viewers can still expect lighter-hearted fare, and not the mature content more akin to The Wire or Game of Thrones the internet jokingly pitched shortly after the news broke. That includes its great tradition of highbrow television parodies and spoofs.

This season, one of the first parodies to drop was based on Netflix’s hit series Orange is the New Black. Renamed Orange is the New Snack, it taught children about healthy eating.

Back in 2009, there was a Mad Men parody where neither a single curse word flew from their lips nor glass of whiskey drew to them. Instead, the bit explored feelings.

Homelamb was the Homeland we’d all prefer:

Another bit spoofing MTV was so retro that it actually included music:

It’s good news that the show’s young viewers (and their attendant parents) are still getting exposed to the show’s tradition of high-concept comedy, but one can’t help but notice that the set looks a little nicer now. Oscar is living in a recycling bin now and Grover’s apartment has stained-glass windows. That calls attention to the fact that the show has effectively been paywalled.

As Quartz’s Mike Murphy noted a couple of weeks ago:

It’s not just the set that has gone upscale: A show created to educate as many children as possible, as Gawker’s Tom Scocca noted, will now be broadcast first to a premium cable network with a US subscriber base of about 28 million households—about a fifth of the total. HBO costs about $20 a month, depending on the cable provider, or $15 month for online streaming service HBO Now.

The shows won’t be coming to PBS, where they’ll be shown for free, until nine months later. With luck, these parodies will still be fresh by then.