The Real reason "Maria" moved away from Sesame Street is HBO
Sonia Manzano the beloved and legendary actress who played "Maria" for 44 years in a new piece for the "Daily Beast" says the main reason she left the show was because of the new deal with HBO.
Sesame Workshop announced the new five-year deal with HBO last month. The new deal "Home Box Office" will allow The Sesame Street Workshop to increase its production of episodes from 18 to 35 as well as expanding the brand with a new spin-off 'Sesame Street Muppets" as well as another educational show for children. The deal struck will allow HBO to have first run for 9 months of all new Sesame Street episodes and then will run in syndication on PBS. For Sonia Manzano this is problematic.
Ms. Manzano worries that by moving Sesame Street away from PBS it may be forced to make "corporate compromises"
“If I was gonna criticize anyone [about that], it’s not gonna be Sesame Street,” she says. “It’s gonna be the coarse and un-compassionate society we live in now. Nobody wants to help the other guy.”
However Sonia also laments saying “I’d be sadder if it had to go off the air". The unfortunate truth is with U.S. politicians constant slashing of funding for Public Broadcasting it forces PBS to turn to charity or make alliances with private entities.
Many critics also see this as yet another corporate capture of our children's education. Studies show that the education that Sesame Street provides is almost as important to low income children as Head Start. And with the growing trend of private and for profit charter schools supplanting our public schools that focus more on test taking then critical thinking and creativity; one wonders what will a "corporate Sesame Street" look like.
However HBO does have a long history of providing quality, inspiring and educational programming for children. HBO has produced or aired shows like "Babar", "Happily Ever After to name a few that were both profitable and well received by children advocate and educators.
With that said this new trend of the privatization of the "public sphere" or the "commons" should give us all pause. If "Sesame Street" and our schools aren't safe from corporate encroachment then what is?