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HBO Max removes nearly 200 episodes of ‘Sesame Street’

Original Muppets, from left, Oscar the Grouch, Ernie, Bert, Big Bird, Cookie Monster (holding cookie), Grover (fuzzy blue Muppet with pink nose) and the Count, along with later additions to the show (Mark Mann for The Washington Post)
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It’s not a sunny day for HBO Max, which has caused social media uproar for removing almost 200 older episodes of the beloved kids show “Sesame Street” from its streaming service.

The platform now offers 456 episodes of the classic series, down from the estimated 650 episodes it used to have, Variety reported.

The change comes after HBO Max announced earlier this week it would remove 36 titles from its lineup to prepare for its merge into a single streaming platform with Discovery Plus.

“As we work toward bringing our content catalogues together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and discovery+,” the statement said. “That will include the removal of some content from both platforms.”

‘Sesame Street’ models inclusivity, but it has left Black viewers behind

Some of the works set to disappear from HBO Max include the teen drama “Generation,” the “Sesame Street” spinoff “The Not-Too-Late-Show with Elmo,” and the animated series “Aquaman: King of Atlantis.” The streaming platform also announced last month all eight “Harry Potter” movies would be removed. Other shows, such as the comedy series “Mrs. Fletcher” and rock-and-roll drama “Vinyl” were pulled without a direct announcement.

HBO Max did not announce why the TV shows and films were going to be cut from the service, but the move will help the company save money that would have gone toward paying residuals.

Sesame Street is and has always been an important part of television culture and a crown jewel of our preschool offering,” an HBO Max representative wrote in a statement. “We are committed to continuing to bring Sesame Street into families’ homes, including the newest season premiering this fall and the nearly 400 episodes of the most current and historic seasons that remain on Cartoonito on HBO Max.”

Representatives for Sesame Workshop did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Sesame Street” first aired on PBS in 1969, introducing Big Bird, Kermit the Frog and Cookie Monster to early Generation Xers starting preschool and kindergarten. It began airing on HBO in 2016 and then HBO Max in 2020.

The decision drew many fans to tweet their discontent.

“I deeply and truly hate this. I watch Sesame Street with my kids,” a Twitter user wrote. “My oldest is at an age where he has specific episodes he likes to rewatch.”

“It is so sad that a child like my brother may have just lost access to one of their favorite things and there is no explanation that a parent can give them,” another person commented.

“Sesame Street,” which airs on PBS, has been widely celebrated for its accessible children’s education and commitment to portraying diversity and inclusion.

“This show was created to give children from low-income families access to early education they might otherwise miss,” another fan noted, arguing that the kids show “should be a free public resource, not something you need a subscription to access.”