‘D’ Is for Divorce: Big Feelings on Sesame Street
In early 1992, a census report predicted that 40 percent of children would soon live in divorced homes. As one of the most famous children’s television programs in the world, Sesame Street was determined to take on a topic most kid’s shows wouldn’t touch. They cast Snuffy, a.k.a. Mr. Snuffleupagus, for the part of child divorcee.
With a team of its best writers, researchers, and producers, a segment was scripted and shot. It went through a half-dozen revisions, with input from the foremost researchers in the field. And on a typical sunny afternoon on Sesame Street, the furry, red, elephantine muppet known as Snuffy prepared to drop the bomb on his loyal preschool viewers.
“My dad is moving out of our cave,” he confides to Big Bird one afternoon, distraught after knocking over a house built of blocks. “I’m not sure where,” he continues, crying. “Some cave across town.”
Big Bird, naturally, is horrified. “But why?” he asks his friend.
Snuffy blinks his long, dark eyelashes, and pauses. We know what’s coming. Well, he explains, “because of something called a divorce.”