The Rundown: The ‘Sesame Street’ Deserted Island Conundrum, Solved

Editor-at-Large
03.22.19

Jim Henson

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items will vary, as will the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — Let’s settle this once and for all

Earlier this week, when we were all still innocent and blind to the potential horrors of living in permanent isolation with beloved characters from a long-running children’s television series, someone on the Sesame Street social media team logged into Twitter and put this into the world.

Nothing has been the same since. Nothing will ever be the same. How can it be, with this type of question ping-ponging around our brains forever, like a screensaver where an item bounces around off the sides of the screen and never quite lands exactly in a corner, even when it looks like it might, infuriating anyone with OCD or a semi-regular diet of edibles? I… I do not want to be stranded on a desert island, at all, with anyone, even a Muppet. But thanks to this tweet, it’s all I’ve been thinking about this week. Welcome to the future. It’s terrifying.

Anyway, the post caught fire. The masses weighed in. Celebrities weighed in. Everyone had opinions that were held very firmly. The medium was not ideal, though. You can’t answer something this complex in 280 characters. There are layers to peel back here, high-level analysis at every turn. Someone needs to unpack this. Really get in there. Luckily (kind of), I have a weekly column and an editor who rarely says no to me, so I will be that person. Let’s settle this once and for all.

First things first, Elmo is out. It’s nothing personal. I love Elmo. Everyone loves Elmo. But there are only two ways this whole thing can go. In one, Elmo’s relentless positivity begins to wear on you around week three of being marooned on an island. You suck it up and deal with it, though, because like, it’s Elmo. It’s his thing. But time goes on — weeks, months, years, heaven forbid — and you start to crack. This is your fault, not his. You’re the weak one. And one day, when Elmo comes back from the food search with a smile and a single rotten coconut, you finally snap and heave his tiny fuzzy body into the ocean. He survives, thank god, but things get weird. You can’t come back from that. And, if you do ever get rescued, you can’t have Elmo, American Treasure, telling that story to Ellen on national television. It won’t do. You’ll be canceled so fast.

The other way it could go is the hopelessness of the situation getting to Elmo and Elmo getting catastrophically depressed. That’s… unsettling. I do not want to think about a depressed Elmo. He’s out.

Next up is Cookie Monster. He’s out, too. This one is easy. He’s a glutton and a lunatic. He’ll eat all the food and stare at you with his googly eyes. He’s also the largest of the characters offered up in the hypothetical, which causes another set of problems. What if, when the hunger really sets in, he looks at you one day and his addled brain changes the vision of your human body into a large cookie? What if a crazed Cookie Monster charges at you with menace in his eyes and drool on his lips? What then, hotshot? Can you take the Cookie Monster? I’m not sure you can.

So then, maybe Grover? Grover is pretty cool. Incompetent and clumsy as all heck, sure, but pretty cool and laid back. Grover wants to help, man. He’s not always great at the execution, but he’s trying. That’s a personality I can deal with if I’m stuck on an island. If I’m there forever with no hope of escape, Grover is my choice. If escape is an option, though, we run into what I’ll call the Super Grover problem.

We remember Super Grover, yes? Cape, ability to fly, other powers that one would assume could be useful in a deserted island situation? Sounds great. And it would be, if not for the thing where Super Grover is also incompetent and clumsy and rarely ever successful in a mission. Imagine how infuriating that would be. You’d be like “Okay, Super Grover, remember. You fly off the island, in any direction, it doesn’t matter, and you find the first person who looks like they can help. Got it?” and then Super Grover would wash up on shore three weeks later covered in seaweed, alone, again, with no great explanation how any of it happened. I’d scream. Not sustainable.

That leaves Oscar the Grouch. You’d think Oscar would be a terrible choice. His attitude and general demeanor are not conducive to your long-term island-based mental health. But — BUT — he does have that trash can. You get some wood, some makeshift string, fashion a flotation evict out of it, you can put the trash can on top and row to safety. You can put the lid over your head if it storms, too. It’ll be an annoying trip, for sure, with all of his comments. But you can do it. For freedom.

Oscar the Grouch is the only logical choice.

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