As The Blaze first told you Tuesday, there's a new muppet coming to Sesame Street. But unlike the cheerful singing-and-dancing brood who usually hold court on the PBS show, she has a sadder tale to tell: She's meant to represent one of the many U.S. children who go to bed at night hungry.
The children's program will introduce "Lily" during a one-hour prime-time special Oct. 9 to raise awareness about hunger faced by American families who are "food insecure," meaning their access to food is limited or uncertain.
In a New York Times interview, a top Sesame Workshop executive highlighted the care and planning that went into developing the new character:
“We thought long and hard about how do we really represent this from a child’s point of view?” Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president for outreach and educational practices, said on Monday morning in a telephone interview. “We felt it was best to have this new Muppet take this on in a positive way and a healthy way.”
Ms. Betancourt said that she and her colleagues spent time considering all the elements of Lily’s character that would make her realistic but empathetic to young viewers: her style of dress, her voice performance and even mannerisms, like her tendency to look down at her feet rather than make eye contact when she is speaking to other characters.
“She wants to talk about this topic,” she said, “because she knows it will help many other families and children, but it isn’t an easy topic to talk about in the first place.”
Also participating in the special are country music singer Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley. They praised the show in a joint statement:
"Food insecurity is a growing and difficult issue for adults to discuss, much less children,” they said. “We hope that it will not only provide families with the tools they need to help them cope and live the healthiest life possible, but will educate the general population about the extent of food insecurity and hunger in the United States.”
Watch a clip from the upcoming special below, courtesy of PBS: