NEW YORK (AP) – “Sesame Street” is about to get a lot sweeter.
Elmo, Grover, Abby Cadabby, and the rest of the Muppet gang are introducing a new character to the show this summer – a white-and-brown pup named Tango, The Associated Press has learned.
“We wanted to explore this special bond between children and pets by introducing this new character,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice president of creative and production at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street.
Tango will join season 52 of “Sesame Street” as both an animated character and a live-action muppet, which will debut on HBO Max this fall and will be streamed on PBS KIDS in 2022.
The puppy will be featured for the first time in a 30-minute animated special, “Furry Friends Forever: Elmo Gets a Puppy,” which debuts August 5 on HBO Max. She is technically Elmo’s second pet – he has been looking after goldfish Dorothy for several years.
“He took care of his goldfish pretty well,” said Wilson Stallings. “We thought that he managed to take care of Dorothy and that this could be the next step in his development and that he would get more responsibility and learn and grow.”
Plans to introduce a pet on Sesame Street dated back to pre-pandemic times when animal adoption skyrocketed. Sesame Workshop hopes that Tango will lead to age-appropriate assistance for pets, their care and feeding.
“The timing is perfect. It wasn’t like we decided six months ago, “Let’s create this new character because a lot of people are adopting pandemic pets.” But we know that many families adopted pets as a source of comfort and joy during the pandemic, ”said Wilson Stallings.
“As Elmo adopts Tango, for many of our children it will reflect what they are now experiencing at home and help them understand how best to love and care for their furry friends.”
Details about Tango have been carefully thought out, with internal discussions about what it should look like and what gender to choose. Wilson Stallings, who has a long-haired dachshund at home, puts aside her own preferences for the common good.
“We decided that it really would be best to make sure that the way to make them most accessible and to appeal to as many children and families as possible is to make them just like a mixed race,” she said. “It could be a little bit of everything. Anyone who has a pet could see a little of their pet in tango. “
In the animated and song-filled film, Grover and Elmo go out on a play date and meet the friendly but sad stray puppy sitting lonely in a cardboard box. She loves music and dancing and scratches her chin. Even Oscar the Grouch calls it a “cute, adorable little fluffball”.
Grover warns Elmo that whenever you approach a dog, move calmly and let him sniff the back of your hand. “This is how dogs get to know you. Or, should I say, nose up, ”says Grover.
Then the fuzzy monsters realize that the puppy is homeless. They decide that a local pet fair is the perfect place to find a new home for them. “We’ll find you the home you deserve, little pup,” says Grover. The couple also name the dog after ballroom dancing because they enjoy doing it.
On the way, Cookie Monster offers her dog treats and Abby Cadabby cleans her in a magical bubble bath (“It was fun to get dirty / Now hooray to get clean”). The songs are by Paul Buckley.
When Elmo finds the animal fair empty, he comes to a realization. “Elmo knows where tangos could be at home,” he says. Grover asks, ‘Where?’ Elmo replies: “With Elmo.” But first he needs the parents’ permission. Elmo promises to feed, play, bathe and go for a walk with tango. “We don’t need one per trade fair / To know that we are a great couple,” he sings. The message: Let love take you in.
Tango will remain a puppy – just like Elmo will always be 3 1/2 years old, but Wilson Stallings said her future as a recurring character is bright, with even the possibility of starring in her own lead one day.
“Right now we’re just really focusing on this relationship between her and Elmo as she gets more comfortable with all of the other characters on Sesame Street. But if there are stories and educational reasons to tell, we could possibly consider putting tango into their own series. “