123 Sesame

How to gut Sesame Street

Meet the set designer who tore Sesame Street down to make it better.
123 Sesame

How to gut Sesame Street

Meet the set designer who tore Sesame Street down to make it better.

Sesame Street is home. It first aired in 1969 and was nothing short of revolutionary: a modern, educational children's show set in a neighborhood that both reflected and respected urban communities. That set design — the bodega, the brownstone stoops, the newsstand and grocery store — all played an integral role in the program's storytelling.

Award-winning designer David Gallo is, in many ways, the urban planner behind the current look and feel of the iconic neighborhood. As the show entered its 46th season, Gallo was brought on and given a broad directive to update the set.

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His choices were criticized and conflated with a larger narrative of Sesame Street's "gentrification," which in part stemmed from another shift: the show's move to HBO. So how do you maintain what the early Sesame Street got right, while pushing it toward the future?