Unveiled on HBO Max last week, the “Family Day” episode includes a scene in which Nina (played by Suki Lopez) introduces her brother Dave (Chris Costa) and his husband, Frank (Alex Weisman), to Elmo and his friends. Joining the couple is their daughter, Mia (Olivia Perez).
In a June 17 Facebook post, actor Alan Muroaka said he was “honored and humbled” to have co-directed “Family Day,” which he described as “an important and milestone episode.”
“‘Sesame Street’ has always been a welcoming place of diversity and inclusion,” wrote Muroaka, who also plays a character named Alan on the show. “Love is love, and we are so happy to add this special family to our Sesame family. Happy Pride to all!!!!”
News of the episode drew praise from a number of LGBTQ advocacy groups.
“The ‘Family Day’ episode of ‘Sesame Street’ sends the simple and important message that families come in all forms and that love and acceptance are always the most important ingredients in a family,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis wrote in a statement. “Frank and Dave, as Mia’s dads, are the latest characters in an undeniable trend of inclusion across kids and family programming, one that allows millions of proud LGBTQ parents, and our children, to finally get to see families like ours reflected on TV.”
“Family Day” is one of many visible strides “Sesame Street” creators have taken to boost inclusivity on the children’s series, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019.
Over the years, queer stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Eichner and, most recently, Lil Nas X have all made guest appearances on the show. In early 2020, actor and gender-fluid fashion icon Billy Porter turned up in an episode in wearing the Christian Siriano-designed velvet tuxedo gown he’d debuted on the 2019 Academy Awards red carpet.
And earlier this year, the show unveiled a digital segment featuring two new Black muppets for a discussion about race.
In 2018, however, former writer Mark Saltzman sparked controversy when he suggested his storylines for Bert and Ernie had been informed by his real-life relationship and, as such, came to view the characters as “a loving couple.”
Later, the Emmy winner told The New York Times his comments had been misinterpreted, and clarified that he saw Bert and Ernie simply as “two guys who love each other.”