November 28, 2013

Remembering Mr. Hooper 30 Years Later

On Thanksgiving Day 1983, 30 years ago, Sesame Street aired a very special episode dealing with the death of Mr. Hooper, the storekeeper on Sesame Street.  That episode was selected by the Daytime Emmys as one of the 10 most influential moments in daytime television history.

Big Bird makes a silly entrance onto the set, walking backwards with his head between his legs. When Gordon asks why he is walking like that, Big Bird answers, "Because. Just because."
Later in the episode, Big Bird presents each adult on the show with a gift—a drawing he has made of each of them. The last drawing he has is of Mr. Hooper, and Big Bird is eager to give it to him. When Big Bird asks his adult friends to help find Mr. Hooper, they gently remind Big Bird that Mr. Hooper has died. Not understanding, Big Bird announces he will just wait for him to come back.
The adults pause, looking uncomfortable and sad. They then tearfully explain that when someone dies, they can never come back. Big Bird is dismayed, and the adults (all genuinely emotional) comfort him, explaining that they were lucky to have known and loved Mr. Hooper, and that they will always have their memories of him. It will never be the same without him, they say, but they will all help take care of Big Bird and life will continue on as normal. Bob fights back tears when it's his turn to explain death to Big Bird.
Big Bird angrily demands to know why things have to be the way they are, and no one has a ready answer. Finally, Gordon figures out what to say: "Because. Just because." This is perhaps the only answer that could make sense to Big Bird, at least for now, and he sadly accepts it. He then—as he constantly has throughout the years—humorously, but glumly mispronounces Mr. Hooper's name once again, even in death ("I'm gonna miss you, Mr. Looper"). Maria, laughing but with tears in her eyes, says, "That's Hooper, Big Bird. Hooper." The adults and Big Bird embrace. Big Bird recalls facts about Mr. Hooper, such as how no matter how many times he mispronounced his name, finally correcting himself when he mispronounces it (Mr. Pooper - I mean, Mr. Hooper), that Mr. Hooper was patient. Big Bird also wonders who will now do the jobs Mr. Hooper was known for, such as making the birdseed milkshakes that Big Bird was a fan of. David explains that life goes on for the rest of us, and Big Bird need not worry, for he had bought the store shortly before Mr. Hooper's death and will now work as its manager; doing all the responsibilities Mr. Hooper had done.    -from Wikipedia