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Sesame Street doc ‘Street Gang’ offers a look at the origins and impact of the iconic show in first trailer

By Josh Weiss

Can you tell me how to get... how to get to Sesame Street? Well, let's start with the trailer for Street Gang, a brand-new documentary about the origins and worldwide impact of the long-running educational program made possible by the groundbreaking puppetry work of Jim Henson. Since their small screen debut in 1969, Big Bird, Elmo, Oscar, and the rest of the gang have helped children with basic life skills (such as spelling and counting), while subtly emphasizing the importance of unity and kindness, regardless of race, creed, or age.

"I was one of the original Sesame Street kids," Street Gang producer Ellen Scherer told IndieWire in January when the project held its virtual premiere at Sundance. "We only had a television that could get a certain number of channels and I had two older brothers who are eight and ten years older than me. I remember if I chose Sesame Street, we could all watch it. That and Electric Company. But if there were other choices I made around the kind of programming I liked, I got a lot of pushback for use of television. So, I think that's my memory — that being a show that my older brothers and I could watch together and not have any fights over what channel we were watching."

Watch the wholesome trailer below:

Based on Michael Davis's 2009 history on the series (Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street), the film was directed by Marilyn Agrelo (Mad Hot Ballroom, An Invisible Sign). It features interviews with cast members, creators and producers, as well as archival footage.

"Once I started to really get into it and read about it and get into the layers of it, it was kind of irresistible to me," the filmmaker explained to IndieWire. "It was an opportunity to tell a story about something that was really a story about so many other things. It was ostensibly, on the surface, what this TV show and how it was made. But it was really about this cultural revolution and this bold, bold experiment and these very creative people throwing stuff against the wall to see if it would work. The fact that these groundbreaking things were in the lens of a show for preschoolers? That was just too delicious for words. That's what just made it amazing."

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street heads to theaters Friday, April 23 before hitting on demand Friday, May 7.