It's hard to believe that Sesame Street first aired in 1969, especially considering that the show remains popular now in 2016. For several generations, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Kermit, and The Count have taught children their alphabet, colors, shapes, and even numbers. The series is even more popular now, thanks to it airing on both PBS and HBO. But how did it stay popular for so long? A lot of the success of Sesame Street is about how the series taps into its audience, including pop culture references that sometimes only adults get. And in the past decade, Sesame Street has done a good job of referencing everything from Game of Thrones to The Avengers to keep both kids and their parents watching. Here's 15 times the show did just that.
15 Mad Men
One wouldn't think a show as adult as Mad Men would make it as a Sesame Street parody, but the series often references more adult shows to keep parents watching with kids. And this parody was so on point that it even recreated the opening intro of the original Mad Men series on AMC, as well as a puppet called Mr. Draper. Although the parody takes place in an advertising agency, the Muppets, though, took the word "mad" literally, especially after someone shows Mr. Draper a photo of a raccoon running off with a bear's honey. Suddenly, everyone gets mad and they decide that they need to find something happier. The skit runs through the gamut of emotions, teaching kids the difference between happy, mad, and sad.
14 Old Spice
Remember all those awesome Old Spice commercials with Mr. Isaiah Mustafa where he challenges viewers to use Old Spice to smell like a man? Well, Grover on Sesame Street did his own version of those commercials, but because Grover isn't a man, but a monster. In his parody, "Smell like a monster," Grover even starts out the same way as one of the commercials: "Look at yourself. Now back to me. Now back to yourself. Now back to me." This continues throughout the parody as he teaches kids all about the word "on" and how to smell like a monster. It's both educational and funny, and even if the kids didn't get it (although they probably will), the parents watching the skit thought it was hilarious.
Several years ago, Glee was one of the hottest shows on television. Every week, viewers turned in to see a group of misfit kids burst into song every time someone in their high school gave them grief. Sesame Street created their own version of the show called "G," which started with a recap of what happened on the last episode (just like the original series). The episode begins with the teacher freaking out about the next competition, challenging the kids to find the song that will help them win that. But this is an educational show, so obviously, the song must have something to do with the letter "g." By the time they get that song figured out, it sounds a lot like Glee's take on Journey's Don't Stop Believin'."
When the iPhone first came out, one of its key slogans was "There's an app for that." And now, there are iPhones all over the world and that slogan continues to get uttered when someone needs to do something on their phone. Sesame Street tapped into that early on, and parodied the iPhone with their "There's An App For That" skit. But the Muppets introduced the iPogo, which is basically a pogo stick that can do anything. There's even a song that goes through everything that the iPogo can do, including combing your cat and fixing a flat tire on a bicycle. But the important thing about the song is that it teaches kids how to rhyme, using words that rhyme with "that," such as "gnat," "mat," and "brat."
11 Spider-Man, The Musical
Although it didn't last long on Broadway, Spider-Man, The Musical still captured the hearts of comic book fans and nerds everywhere. That means that even shows like Sesame Street understood that Spider-Man was a hot topic of discussion, so they included it on their show. But in this rendition, Spider-Man is actually Spider-Monster. In "Spider-Monster, The Musical," Grover stars as the superhero and sings his heart out about life as a Spider-Monster. But things get funny, because like the original Spider-Man musical, there are some technical difficulties with the show's effects. Grover ends up landing on the only audience member in the crowd. And he does that over and over. Eventually, the audience member tries to show Grover how it's done and ends up on stage hanging from wires.
10 Comic Con
One of the biggest things to happen to pop culture in recent years is the rise of comic cons, those events that bring fans of comic books, movies, television shows, and video games together to celebrate everything that they love. One of the biggest events of the year is San Diego Comic-Con, which is probably one of the largest such conventions in the world. Sesame Street had their own con, though, and presented a sketch that showed all the con floor action. Not only does the clip introduce Muppets cosplaying everything from Doctor Who to superheroes, but it also teaches kids all about numbers because this con is Numeric Con and is "the greatest Number Convention of the year." There's even a puppet parodying con staple actor, William Shatner.
9 The Avengers: Age of Ultron
One of the biggest movies of the past few years is The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But there was one movie that was even bigger and better, at least for Sesame Street fans. In The "Aveggies: Age of BonBon," some of our favorite Muppet heroes must face a great evil that threatens to take over the world, an alien entity that keeps destroying everyone's vegetables. There's only one hero, well, "a whole bunch of heroes," who can save the vegetables from certain doom. It's Cookie Monster and friends to the rescue! Why Cookie Monster? Because the villain's spaceships are cookies, of course! So Cookie Monster must grow big and green to take on the giant cookies flying around and destroying all the veggies. Just call him Cookie "Hulk" Monster.
8 Game of Thrones
You wouldn't think that Game of Thrones is something that parents would ever deem appropriate for kids, but it's likely that kids are aware that their parents watch the show and hear them talking about it. So although kids might not see it, they probably know the general premise of the mature HBO series. Sesame Street tapped into that with its "Game of Chairs," including a pretty snazzy intro that references the one seen on Game of Thrones. Of course, everyone wants a chair in the sketch, but there are more people than chairs. What follows is a very intense game of musical chairs. There are also a lot of reference to things that happened on Game of Thrones, including Grover looking at Joffrey and telling him that it looks like he choked.
7 High School Musical
In 2006, the Disney Channel aired High School Musical and things were never the same for kids growing up in the millennium. The made-for-TV movie scored a huge win in the hearts of kids and inspired lots of merchandise, as well as sequels. Sesame Street introduced their own made-for-TV musical, though, and created something for kids a little younger. In "Pre-School Musical," the Muppets sang and danced their way through the halls of pre-school, that "isn't high school, but it's still cool." But there's something to learn here, especially for kids facing pre-school for the first time. The Muppets teach kids that pre-school isn't scary at all, but a place where they can play with guinea pigs, dress up in costumes, and do lots of other fun things.
6 Star Wars
Star Wars is one of those pop culture things that will never go away, especially now with new movies on the way and related merchandise on store shelves everywhere. Today's kids know everything there is to know about Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Kylo Ren, with Star Wars being something that's pervaded the general life of almost everyone on the planet. One of Sesame Street's most famous parodies is "Star S'Mores," that took kids to a "cookies and milky way galaxy far, far away." In the parody, Luke Piewalker, Flan Solo, and Chewie, the Cookie must save Princess Parfait from the Evil Galactic Empire. But this is Sesame Street, so the misfit band of Muppets must "use the 4," while teaching viewers more about numbers.
5 Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is another one of those film series that captured the hearts and minds of both kids and adults all over the world. That's why Sesame Street tapped into The Hunger Games books and movies for its parody of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In "The Hungry Games - Catching Fur," Cookieness Evereat (Cookie Monster in a wig) returns to play the Hungry Games again. But can she, along with her friends, Finnicky, Tick Tock Lady, and Pita, escape the dangers that await them? This skit teaches kids how to recognize patterns with things, and asks them to "stop and think." It even goes one step further by also teaching children about food types and shapes. "May the cookies be ever in your flavor."
4 Harry Potter
Another book and movie series that remains popular is Harry Potter, which tells the story of a magical boy who grew up to defeat a great, evil wizard. In the book and movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry must compete in a great wizarding tournament. Sesame Street had its own version of the tale, though: "Furry Potter and The Goblet of Cookies." And like many of its other parodies, it starred the infamous Cookie Monster. In this educational piece, Furry Potter must learn to carefully listen to directions given by Professor Crumblemore because it will take more than magic to get to the Goblet of Cookies. Will Furry Potter learn to listen? Will he reach the final point of his magical quest?
3 Jurassic Park
Thanks to a story that involves bringing dinosaurs back from extinction, the Jurassic Park series of movies keeps capturing the imaginations of kids and adults. But Sesame Street took that idea and put its own spin in it. In "Jurassic Cookie," a brilliant scientist (again, it's Cookie Monster) decides to open the world's first theme park, completely dedicated to cookies. As in the original movies, this seems like a great idea at first, but then the giant cookies go on attack and what follows is an action-packed adventure where Cookie Monster must figure out how to stop the large beasts and save the day.. But there's a point to this silly sketch: it teaches kids all about the letter "h." And yes, of course, there is a cookie dinosaur.
2 Downton Abbey
One of the biggest shows to ever hit PBS, at least for adults, was Downton Abbey, which wrapped its final season just last year. The UK import kept viewers glued to their television screens each week, as they watched the trials and tribulations of the Crawley family. It was an obvious choice for parody material for Sesame Street, who even channeled the series' theme music in its skit, "Upside Downton Abbey." That means that there was a twist: all the scenes were shot upside down to help teach kids what that looks like. The goal was to figure out how to turn Upside Downton Abbey to Rightside Downton Abbey, but how to do that? The Muppets eventually figure it out, but "where's the steak and kidney pie?"
1 Les Mousserables
Every musical theatre nerd knew all about Jean Valjean and his musical adventures in Les Miserables long before it became a hit movie starring Hugh Jackman. But once the film came out, the story got introduced to moviegoers, and they couldn't get enough of it. Who knew that such a depressing story would serve as good fodder for Sesame Street? But in "Les Mousserables," viewers got introduced to Jean Bon-Bon, a very sad French man who just wanted some cookies. Guess who starred in this one, too? We'll give you a hint... his first name starts with "Cookie" and his last name ends in "Monster." Can Cookie Monster help the Parisians find the cookies? Because, as we all know, life without cookies is sad indeed.