NEW YORK (AP) – “Sesame Street” is about to get a whole lot cuter.

Elmo, Grover, Abby Cadabby and the rest of the Muppets gang are introducing a new character on the show this summer – a white and brown puppy named Tango, the Associated Press has learned.

“We wanted to explore this special connection between children and pets by introducing this new character,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice president of creation and production at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind “Sesame Street”.

Tango will join the 52nd season of “Sesame Street” as an animated character and live Muppet, debuting this fall on HBO Max and airing on PBS KIDS in 2022.

The puppy is first featured in a 30-minute animated special “Furry Friends Forever: Elmo Gets a Puppy,” which debuts on HBO Max on August 5. She is technically Elmo’s second pet – he has been caring for Dorothy’s goldfish for several years.

“He’s done really well taking care of his goldfish,” Wilson Stallings said. “We thought he had been successful in taking care of Dorothy and that this could be the next step in her development and increased responsibilities, in her learning and in her growth.”

Plans to bring a pet to Sesame Street predate the pandemic, when animal adoptions soared. Sesame Workshop hopes that Tango will lead to the modeling of an aid adapted to the age of pets, their care and their diet.

“The timing is perfect. It wasn’t like we decided six months ago “Let’s create this new character because a lot of people are adopting pandemic pets.” But we do know that many families adopted pets during the pandemic as a source of comfort and joy, ”said Wilson Stallings.

“With Elmo adopting Tango, it will reflect for many of our children what they are now experiencing at home and help them understand how to best love and care for their furry friends. ”

Details on Tango have been carefully reviewed, with internal discussions about what she should look like and which gender to choose. Wilson Stallings, who has a long-haired dachshund at home, has put his own preferences aside for the common good.

“We decided that it would be really better to make sure that the way to make her as accessible and really appealing to as many children and families as possible is to just make her look like a mixed race,” he said. she declared. “She could be a bit of anything. Anyone who has a pet can see a bit of their pet in Tango.

In the animated and song-filled movie, Grover and Elmo go out on a play date and meet the friendly but sad stray puppy sitting sadly in a cardboard box. She enjoys music and dancing and itches under the chin. Even Oscar the Grouch calls her a “cute, adorable little furball.”

Grover warns Elmo that whenever you approach a dog, move gently and let it sniff the back of your hand. “This is how doggies get to know you. Or, should I say, sniff yourself, ”Grover says.

Then the fuzzy monsters realize that the puppy is homeless. They decide that a local pet fair is the perfect place to find her a new home. “We’ll find you the home you deserve, little puppy,” says Grover. The couple also name the dog after ballroom dancing because that’s what she loves to do.

Along the way, Cookie Monster gives her dog some treats and Abby Cadabby cleans her up in a magical bubble bath (“It was fun getting dirty / Now thumbs up for getting clean”). The songs are by Paul Buckley.

Finding the pet fair empty, Elmo realizes. “Elmo knows where Tango’s house could be,” he said. Grover asks, “Where? Elmo replies, “With Elmo.” But first he needs parental permission. Elmo promises to feed, play, bathe, and take Tango for a walk. “We don’t need one per fair / To know we’re a good pair,” he sings. The message: let love take you.

Tango will remain a puppy – just as Elmo will always be 3.5 years old, but Wilson Stallings has said his future as a recurring character is bright, with even the possibility of one day playing his own lead role.

“Right now we’re really focusing on this relationship between her and Elmo as she gets to know all the other characters on ‘Sesame Street.’ But if there are any stories to tell and educational reasons for doing so , we could potentially consider turning Tango into its own series. ”


Mark Kennedy is on Twitter as KennedyTwits

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