Mup­pets in Moscow: The Unex­pect­ed Crazy True Sto­ry of Mak­ing Sesame Street in Russia

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2021

After the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union, the tim­ing appeared per­fect to bring Sesame Street to post-com­mu­nist Rus­sia. The Mup­pets were seen as ambas­sadors to mod­el ide­al­is­tic val­ues, but no one antic­i­pat­ed just how chal­leng­ing and dan­ger­ous it would be. Natasha Lance Rogoff, a young Jew­ish Amer­i­can TV pro­duc­er, was tasked to pro­duce the series in Moscow and faced bomb­ings, assas­si­na­tions, the takeover of the pro­duc­tion office; heat­ed cul­tur­al clash­es touched every aspect of the pro­duc­tion — from script­ing writ­ing to edu­ca­tion­al con­tent to the design of the Mup­pets them­selves. Sesame Street’s pro­gres­sive val­ues were pit­ted against four cen­turies of Russ­ian thought. And yet, the TV series became a huge hit, broad­cast­ing mes­sages of tol­er­ance and inclu­sion well into Putin’s era to mil­lions of chil­dren across the for­mer USSR. Told with humor and thought­ful­ness, Rogof­f’s sto­ry of col­lab­o­ra­tion will res­onate with Jew­ish audi­ences. Her sto­ry offers deep insights into the Russ­ian peo­ple and their cul­ture while explor­ing ten­sions that con­tin­ue to thwart rela­tions between Rus­sia and the West — themes that remain more rel­e­vant than ever.

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