Why are Ernie and Bert big news at the moment?


Sesame Street characters Ernie and Bert are in the headlines as speculation over the roommates sexuality is debated once again.

A former writer for the much loved children’s TV show restarted the debate over whether or not the two friends are in a same-sex relationship. During an interview with Queerty writer Mark Saltzman said when he was penning scripts for the show he always considered the duo to be a couple.

Saltzman, who was a staff writer between 1981 and 1990, said he had based the pair’s dynamic on his own long-term relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman.

“I remember one time that a column from the San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked ‘are Bert & Ernie lovers?’ And that, coming from a preschooler was fun,” he said.

“And that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it. And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them.

“I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple.”

Saltzman added the Bert and Ernie’s interactions mirrored his own with Glassman, who was his partner for more than 20 years until his death in 2003.

“I wrote sketches… Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert and Ernie dynamic.”

The show has put out a statement saying that the characters on the show are simply puppets and do not have a sexuality.

Generations of fans who have grown up with the show have quickly pointed out that over the years many of the characters living on the street, both human and Muppet, have been depicted as having romantic relationships – so why not a gay couple?

The suggestion that Ernie and Bert are a gay couple is nothing new, The New Yorker previously depicted the pair as a gay couple on their cover when President Barack Obama changed his stance on same-sex marriage, the image was updated when the US Supreme Court made marriage equality a reality.

OIP Staff

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