The Children’s Television Workshop would like to stress: no homo.
No, I’m not kidding. Earlier this morning, the Children’s Television Workshop — producers of the long-running Sesame Street children’s series — released a statement reiterating that the two iconic characters “do not portray a gay couple, and there are no plans for them to do so in the future”.
“They are puppets, not humans,” the Children’s Television Workshop stressed, to the immense disappointment of Bert shippers everywhere.
The statement follows after long-term Sesame Street song and scriptwriter Mark Saltzman told Queerty that he wrote Bert and Ernie’s relationship based off his own partnership with Arnold Glassman, the late documentary maker and film editor.
Ok, so we have to address—that’s the big question, right? In the writer’s room, you’re all adults. Were you thinking of Bert & Ernie as a gay couple? Did that question ever come up?
I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked “are Bert & Ernie lovers?” And that, coming from a preschooler was fun. And that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it. And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as “Bert & Ernie.”
“So it was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple,” Saltzman said.
As Variety reports, the Children’s Television Workshop has issued denials about the muppet duo’s sexuality before. “Bert and Ernie are characters who help demonstrate to children that despite their differences, they can be good friends,” a press release from the studio said back in 2003.
Their latest statement, which says Bert and Ernie “are identified as male characters and possess many human traits”, can be read in full below.
Please see our statement below regarding Bert and Ernie. pic.twitter.com/6r2j0XrKYu
— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) September 18, 2018