Analysing emotions in Sesame Street
Emotions are a recurring theme in Sesame Street, with songs about them, episodes about them, and sometimes the Word of the Day is about an emotion. If a viewer looks closely, they can pick up that different characters get emotional about different things and express their emotions in different ways, so without further ado, here's an analysis of emotions by character.
- Elmo: Elmo is happy most of the time and enjoys playing, eating, dancing, drawing, and being tickled. When he's happy he is speaking a lot and quickly, giggling, and running around. When he's sad he slows down his movements, cries, talks about not caring, and seems to slow down his speech (or maybe he just has a different tone of voice, it's hard to tell). His eyes seem to be a bit out-of-place sometimes when he's sad, too, and things that make him sad include death, hurt feelings, and not being taken seriously. When he's angry he shouts, flails his arms about, and has misaligned eyes and messy fur. Things that make him angry include Rocco and being misunderstood. Elmo is scared of loneliness and fire; when he's scared he lowers his voice and cowers down. The misaligned eyes thing can also happen if he's surprised.
- Zoe: Zoe, again, is mostly happy, and expresses her happiness the same ways as Elmo; she also has similar interests but on top of that she enjoys ballet, rocks, and riding in a toy car called the Zoemobile. She gets sad for the same reasons you or I would get sad, in addition to people not taking rocks seriously; when she's sad she basically just sits there looking forlorn. As for anger, she gets angry when Elmo calls Rocco "just a rock", and, like Elmo, flails her arms about and shouts, but her eyes and fur stay the same. Fear is an interesting one. Zoe doesn't seem to like to admit to being scared and claims it's Rocco who's scared.
- Big Bird: Big Bird, like with most characters, has happiness as the default, and sings when he's happy, but he still walks relatively slowly even when very happy, possibly due to his size. When sad, he often does an Aside Glance with his beak half open or speaks with a slightly whiny voice. When very sad, he cries, hangs his head down, and walks even slower than usual. When angry, he tends to shout out nonsense words, as evidenced here
- Bert: Bert is very emotional, he is happy when he's reading, eating oatmeal, looking at paperclips and bottle caps, agreeing with Ernie, or observing pigeons. When happy he generally seems happy and also does his trademark chuckle. Bert can get angry if he doesn't get his way or disagrees with Ernie. When angry he shouts (a lot), waves his arms, and tends to repeat himself rather than using logic. A strange thing is that Bert doesn't get sad like other characters get sad. When sad, he seems to just fall over.
- Ernie: Ernie is most often happy, and when happy he sings, skips, and does his trademark chuckle. When sad, he seems to sob and talk in a generic 'sad' voice. The two main things that get him sad are sad daydreams and loneliness, which he describes in When Bert's Not Here. When Ernie is scared he uses the same tone of voice as when sad, but doesn't seem sad. Ernie expresses anger in the same way Bert does but it takes a lot to get him angry.
- Telly: Telly is usually happy but is pretty emotional. One way to keep him happy is by providing a triangle, and one way to make him sad is by threatening a triangle (if that seems silly, it's because it is, but Telly thinks it's Serious Business.) Telly just acts like a generic happy monster when he's happy and when he's sad he cries and says, "oh no", which he also says when he's scared. Telly gets scared easily, and when scared he often goes on about what he's scared of in a hurried voice. In "Telly Get Jealous", he describes jealousy and anger the same way: fast heartbeat, "floppy" belly, and shouting.
- Ingrid and Humphrey: Their happiness is often correlated to Natasha. If Natasha's happy, they're happy, if Natasha's sad (or if they miss Natasha), they're sad. They tend to blow kisses and act happy, yet a bit sappy, when happy. When they are sad they generally cry together and, if it's Natasha-related, say, "where did we go wrong?". They are hardly ever angry or scared, but Humphrey does mention that he expresses fear the same way Natasha does.
- Natasha: Natasha is pretty easy to read. When she's happy she shakes her shoe and goes, "cuckoo". When she's sad she cries, when she's angry she cries and makes a "brrrrb" noise (she's angry when she's not with her doll), and when she's scared she says, "yelp!" and covers her eyes.
- Baby Bear: He expresses his emotions in pretty much a generic way, except he's a bit of a Large Ham and uses a lot of big words.
- Stinky: He gets sad easily and when sad, he moans, but says he doesn't want to be a burden. To keep him happy, give him basic 'plant' things like water and sun.
- Alice: When she's happy she goes "la la la" and is most often happy. However, she can get angry when she doesn't get her way and when she's angry she stomps her feet and says "no". Alice mainly gets sad from loneliness and when she's sad she stares at the wall. To cheer her up, sing. note
- The Adults: The adults are not as easily ruffled as the kids, but they do have emotions, which they often point out to teach kids that it's acceptable to have those emotions, especially the negative ones. They are seen crying (albeit not the gulp-y sobbing that the kids do) when sad, and often do an Aside Glance when annoyed.
- Oscar: His emotions are complicated. Being happy makes him sad and being angry makes him happy. He is made angry by other people being angry or sad, things being too soppy, things like butterflies and dogs which are generally considered pleasant, other people talking to him, happy songs, other people being happy, Christmas, and being alone. The only thing he admits to liking is garbage.
- Prarie Dawn: She's a perfectionist: Happy when she gets her way and sad when she doesn't. When Prarie is sad she often holds her head, moans and complains.
- Guy Smiley: He is a Large Ham. When something happy happens he acts REALLY happy, when something sad happens he acts distraught, when something annoyed happens he hops up and down in rage, and when something scary happens he has an overly frightened response.
- Mr. Johnson: He gets happy when he gets what he wants but his generic emotion is 'annoyed'. He tends to moan and shout a lot, as well as being impatient.