Published Oct 10, 2019Whether intentional or not, Sesame Street has never shied away from the real world. The long-running children's show has done a masterful job of explaining life to youngsters. They will continue to do so by addressing the opioid crisis via a new muppet.
Karli is a green and yellow muppet and a friend of Elmo. She's a relative newcomer to Sesame Street, and she's got a different backstory from the other characters. Specifically, her mother is battling opioid addiction.
"There's nothing else out there that addresses substance abuse for young, young kids from their perspective," Sesame Workshop senior content manager Kama Einhorn told the Guardian. "Even a parent at their most vulnerable — at the worst of their struggle — can take one thing away when they watch it with their kids, then that serves the purpose."
Karli is currently in foster care and appears in online clips on Sesame Street's YouTube channel. You can watch a clip of her being introduced on the show below.
Kari is also working as part of the Sesame Street in Communities resources. Earlier this year, she appeared in a Manhattan studio to record segments alongside real-life families who were facing issues related to addiction.
"Hi, it's me, Karli. I'm here with my friend Salia. Both of our parents have had the same problem – addiction," Karli said in the segment.
"My mom and dad told me that addiction is a sickness," Salia added.
"Yeah, a sickness that makes people feel like they have to take drugs or drink alcohol to feel okay," Karli added. "My mom was having a hard time with addiction and I felt like my family was the only one going through it. But now I've met so many other kids like us. It makes me feel like we're not alone."
Sesame Street has bravely tackled issues from death to racism to autism, recently adding its first unhoused muppet as a way to raise awareness about poverty.
The show is also currently being spun off into a new movie, with Portlandia director Jonathan Krisel at the helm.