Sesame Street made history this past week when it announced that they would be introducing Ji-Young, their first Asian muppet, to their family in their upcoming special, “See Us Coming Together” set to debut on multiple platforms on Thanksgiving Day 2021, the special will appear on special platforms including Cartoonito on HBO Max, PBS KIDS, and Sesame Street’s YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram channels.
Designed for families to watch together, See Us Coming Together follows the Sesame Street friends through a “Neighbor Day” celebration with new friend Ji-Young—a seven-year-old Korean American character performed by Sesame Workshop puppeteer Kathleen Kim. Celebrity guests like actors Simu Liu and Anna Cathcart, comic book artist Jim Lee, chef Melissa King, television personality Padma Lakshmi, and athlete Naomi Osaka join in, too, sharing their passions, talents, and cultures with their Sesame Street friends. The “Neighbor Day” celebration culminates with a new original song, also entitled “See Us Coming Together,” led by Ji-Young and performed by the full cast. A reimagined version of Sesame Street classic, “The People in Your Neighborhood,” reinforces that children of all backgrounds can be anything they want to be.
“Sesame Workshop’s mission is to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. Today, we uphold that mission by empowering children and families of all races, ethnicities, and cultures to value their unique identities,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop’s Executive Vice President of Creative and Production. “See Us Coming Together continues Sesame Street’s proud legacy of representation with an engaging story that encourages empathy and acceptance and uplifts Asian and Pacific Islander communities. With the generous support of the The Asian American Foundation, Ford Foundation, and P&G/Pampers, we’re proud to bring this special to life.”
The announcement comes as anti-Asian-American sentiment is on the rise during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The special wascreated to support families of all backgrounds through ongoing conversations about race—the special also includes an opportunity for talking about anti-Asian racism. (In an offscreen incident, another child tells Ji-Young to “go home.” This is an example of one kind of discrimination Asian and Pacific Islander people face in western countries where they’re often perceived as “perpetual foreigners.” After the incident, Ji-Young seeks out trusted grown-ups and friends who unite to help her know that she’s exactly where she belongs.) To help guide those conversations, a viewing guide and accompanying activities for adults and children to complete together will become available at sesame.org/seeus the week of the special.
“It’s a powerful thing when kids see people like themselves represented on screen and in stories—it supports them as they figure out who they are and who they want to be,” said Alan Muraoka, longtime Sesame Street cast member and co-director of See Us Coming Together. “We can’t wait for families to get to know Ji-Young—in this special and in future seasons of Sesame Street—and celebrate some of the Asian and Pacific Islander people in our neighborhood!”
All photos are (c) Sesame Workshop, by photographer Zach Hyman.