Big news down on Sesame Street this week: this Thanksgiving a new special will debut, See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special that will celebrate the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. And the venerable show will debut its first ever Asian Muppet character, Ji-Young (above) —a seven-year-old Korean American character performed by Sesame Workshop puppeteer Kathleen Kim.
The special takes place on “Neighbor Day” and is designed for families to watch together. Also guesting, API celebrities including actors Simu Liu and Anna Cathcart, artist Jim Lee, chef Melissa King, television personality Padma Lakshmi, and athlete Naomi Osaka join in.
It’s quite an honor for all, including Jim Lee, who wrote about it on his Instagram:
I am so excited, thrilled and honored to announce that I’ll be appearing on @sesamestreet this Thanksgiving day, welcoming its newest resident, a 7-year-old Korean-American girl named Ji-Young! It’s crazy and surreal to even write these words but as a young immigrant boy who literally learned English from reading comic books AND watching Sesame Street—I can say this is a dream I hadn’t ever imagined even possible. Who would have guessed back when I started my comics career as a 21 year old artist that I would get the opportunity decades later to hang with Tamir, Ji-Young, @alanathoopers, @elmo and Abby Cadabby as part of #SeeUsComingTogether, a star-studded TV special celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander identities and the power of community!?! The cast and crew were so inviting and friendly and talented and made me feel truly welcomed. Suffice to say, this is a personal and career high for me—a moment that was both so much fun to be a part of and so moving and emotional when filming came to an end. Thank you @sesamestreet for having me as part of this amazing celebration Thanksgiving day (November 25th) on @hbomax and @pbs
The special comes at a time when recognizing and confronting racism and violence against Asians is more important than ever, something the special will directly mention in hopes of spurring family conversations:
In an offscreen incident, another child tells Ji-Young to “go home.” This is an example of one kind of discrimination Asian and Pacific Islander people face in western countries where they’re often perceived as “perpetual foreigners.” After the incident, Ji-Young seeks out trusted grown-ups and friends who unite to help her know that she’s exactly where she belongs.
To help guide those conversations, a viewing guide and accompanying activities for adults and children to complete together will become available at sesame.org/seeus the week of the special.
“It’s a powerful thing when kids see people like themselves represented on screen and in stories—it supports them as they figure out who they are and who they want to be,” said Alan Muraoka, longtime Sesame Street cast member and co-director of See Us Coming Together. “We can’t wait for families to get to know Ji-Young—in this special and in future seasons of Sesame Street—and celebrate some of the Asian and Pacific Islander people in our neighborhood!”
See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special will be available to view on various streaming platforms, including Cartoonito on HBO Max, PBS KIDS, and Sesame Street’s YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram channels.
Here’s some more shots from the special, via Sesame Workshop, from photographer Zach Hyman