Sesame Street has long captured both young and old hearts with its pop culture parodies, from the recent “The Aveggies: Age Of Bon Bon” to something like Monsterpiece Theater, which has appeared occasionally on the show for years. But how do those parodies get made? How does 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon, for instance, become 30 Rocks’ Liz Lemon? Uproxx has an interesting interview with Sesame Street executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente and head writer Joey Mazzarino about the show’s parody process from inception to completion. Mazzarino’s portion of the interview is of particular interest, since he diverts a bit from Sesame party line to dish specifically on both the way the show turns very grown up shows like Game Of Thrones into kid-friendly segments. In the bit from the interview below, he also talks about the parodies that didn’t work—or that the writers just haven’t figured out yet.
UPROXX: Could you talk about what you guys think about when you say, “Hey, we’ve got House Of Cards or Breaking Bad or Game Of Thrones? Very mature show, and we’re going to do it for a children’s show.”
Joey Mazzarino: I think we always look for what’s the way into a kid’s world that could work with whatever the property is. Like Game of Thrones, I was watching Game of Thrones and I go, “It’s sort of like a game of musical chairs.” That’s something that a kid would have in their life because of parties and I said, “Well, what if to get to be the king, you just had to play a game of musical chairs?” We were thinking about House of Cards and said, “Well, it’s kind of like the big bad wolf going through the three houses of government. Maybe we can work it that way with the three pigs.” It’s finding a thing that would be relevant to a kid’s life. Breaking Bad we never did because I could not figure out a way to make it relevant into a kid’s life. I don’t want to make light of the drug thing or comparing to cookies wouldn’t be right so we couldn’t find a way.
Uproxx: So, Breaking Bad was one property that didn’t work. Are there any others you just couldn’t figure out a way in?
When we started Cookie’s Crumby Pictures, that’s the one when Cookie Monster liked veggies and things like that or some reason, I pictured him in a Sam Jackson wig doing Pulp Fiction where he’s like, “You know what they call a chocolate chip in France?” That kind of thing. What I think is really funny, but I couldn’t figure a way into that one either cause I really wanted to do Pulp Cookie, but I couldn’t figure it out. One day, I will crack it cause that’s one of my favorite movies, but I didn’t figure it out.
The whole thing is available for casual reading on Uproxx, and some of our favorite Sesame parodies are below.