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Sesame Street
Premiere January 16, 2016 (4601)
Finale October 29, 2016 (4635)
Episodes 35

The Muppet cast featured in the season's new opening theme sequence.


Sesame Street Season 46 Highlights

Season 46 Highlight Reel


New Smart Cookies segment.

Season46 (1)

Nina, the newest human character, with Big Bird and Elmo

Sesame-Street-set-model 1 0

David Gallo's original maquette model of the redesigned set

Sesame Street’s 46th season premiered on HBO on January 16, 2016, and September 12 on PBS.


The show's 46th experimental season features several changes to the show's curriculum, format, and set.

Curriculum and Format[]

The season's main educational goal is how to demonstrate kindness.[1] The episodes are now formatted around one specific curricular theme, particularly those relevant to the lives and interests of a typical preschool child (such as bedtime, boo-boos, and animals). Fewer celebrity and parody segments are employed this season, as studies have shown fewer parents (whom the segments are often geared toward) are co-viewing with their children.[1]

The show also begins to tighten its focus in on a smaller number of select characters:

The cast of Muppets, which has mushroomed over the decades, will be pared down to focus on a core six: Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, Grover, Big Bird and Oscar. The others will still be on the show, but the core cast will be the daily focus.[2]

Debuting in the season is a new Cookie Monster segment, "Smart Cookies." New editions of "Elmo the Musical" also debut (now running seven minutes), and "Elmo's World" is reintroduced to the show, with re-edited, high-definition versions of older segments. Also introduced are new opening (directed by Marco Spier of Psyop)[3] and closing song sequences, the former marking the first time the theme sequence has taken place on the street set itself.

The "What's the Word on the Street?" cold opens have been discontinued and replaced by brief scenes of the Muppet characters introducing the topic of each show. The Word of the Day segments have been cut as well.

The season also marks the show's move to a new channel. The episodes debut first-run on HBO and then air on PBS following a nine-month window.[4] The season also introduces a shortened, half-hour format, completely dropping the hour-long run time.

Cast changes[]

Joining the cast is a new recurring human character named Nina, played by actress Suki Lopez.

Following the retirement of Fran Brill the previous fall, Stephanie D'Abruzzo takes over the role of Prairie Dawn and Jennifer Barnhart takes over the role of Zoe. Joey Mazzarino departed from Sesame Workshop a few months prior to the season's premiere, making this his last season involved with the show.

Sonia Manzano retired prior to the season taping and therefore does not return as Maria.[5] Also leaving the cast are Nitya Vidyasagar (Leela) and Ismael Cruz Córdova (Mando). On July 28, 2016, it was announced that Bob McGrath (Bob), Roscoe Orman (Gordon), and Emilio Delgado (Luis) would not be returning to the show[6]; however, this was later explained as a misunderstanding as no scenes had been written for them this season.[7]

Set changes[]

The season introduces many changes to the street set in an effort to modernize the look of the street, evoke a greater sense of community and get viewers to associate the Muppet characters with specific locales.[8] Changes include:

  • Elmo's apartment is relocated in the first floor of 123 Sesame Street, with Elmo's bedroom in the cornerstone location.
  • Hooper's Store is given a complete facelift to resemble its initial design from 1969, with some modern touches as well. Cookie Monster was reported to be relocating to the apartment above. While material has been shot showing this development,[9] it has yet to air on the show.
  • Big Bird's nest is now sitting within a small, furnished tree, no longer hidden by used construction doors.
  • Oscar's trash can is relocated to a dumpster unit in front of 123 Sesame Street. Oscar is also given the ability to appear from trash receptacles, recycling bins, and compost bins around the street.
  • The garden area in the yard is modified and now maintained by Abby Cadabby.
  • Other additions include a community center in the carriage house (with rooftop sitting area) and a Newsstand (run by the Two-Headed Monster), located between the Subway Station and the Laundromat.

The changes were designed by David Gallo.[8] The new set elements were constructed by Showman Fabricators and Gotham Scenic (who built Oscar's new enclosure, the newsstand, and Big Bird's nest).[10]


Initial elements for the season were taped in early February 2015, with primary filming taking place from April 14[11] to June 5.[12] Celebrity segments were shot in Los Angeles the week of March 30, 2015.[13]

The season marks the first use of a Steadicam in studio for the show.[14]



Season 46 episode list


The cast singing "It's Halloween" in one of the season's holiday-themed episodes.


Alan Cumming as Mucko Polo, with Oscar, Elmo, Grover, and Nina (episode 4602)


Sara Bareilles performs "Just Like Magic."


"Orange is the New Snack"


Chris and Cookie Monster in the new, redesigned Hooper's Store.

Episodes 4601 - 4635 (35 episodes)


  • Despite still being credited as part of the cast, Gina, Susan, Bob, and Luis do not make any new appearances this season, and only appear in reused footage. Gordon only appears in a brief cameo at the top of Episode 4629.
  • The PBS airings feature new, brief segments featuring Rosita and Cookie Monster, shown just before the closing credits. This would continue with PBS' airings of episodes originating on HBO.
  • While every episode is still sponsored by a letter and a number (with the exception of Episode 4628, which does not have a specific letter of the day), starting this season, they are no longer being announced at the end.
  • None of the episodes are sponsored by the letters I, J, K, L, Q, R, T, U, X, Y, or Z, making this the first season to not feature every letter as a sponsor.


First-run episodes of Sesame Street began airing on HBO in 2016. The season debuted on Saturday, January 16, 2016, with two new episodes (4601 and 4602) airing back-to-back at 9:00AM ET/PT. In the subsequent weeks, a new episode aired on HBO every Saturday at 9AM, followed by a repeat at 9:30. New episodes debuted each Saturday morning for 33 weeks, running from January 16 until the end of the season. Episodes were simulcast in Spanish on HBO Latino, and new and library episodes air each weekday on HBO Family. The final episode of the season (4635) aired on October 29.

The show continues to air on PBS as well, where episodes from Season 46 reached public broadcasting outlets on September 12, 2016, airing in a different order than HBO.


Abby Cadabby, Anything Muppets, Baby Bear, Bert, Big Bird, Chipowski, Cookie Monster, Cookie Monster's Mommy, Count von Count, The Crumb, Mrs. Crustworthy, Elmo, Ernie, Figby, Miss Fortune, Grouches, Grover, Grover's Mommy, Horatio the Elephant, Jerome the Garden Gnome, Mr. Johnson, Murray Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Ovejita, Prairie Dawn, Rosita, Segi, Slimey, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Stinky the Stinkweed, Telly Monster, Telly's mom, Two-Headed Monster, The Two-Headed Monster's Mother, Zoe


Sesame Street Muppet™ Performers
Pam Arciero, Billy Barkhurst, Tyler Bunch, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Ryan Dillon, Eric Jacobson, John Kennedy, Peter Linz, Joey Mazzarino, Carmen Osbahr, Martin P. Robinson, David Rudman, Matt Vogel
(Uncredited: Jennifer Barnhart, Jake Bazel, Austin M. Costello, Liz Hara, Christopher Hayes, Avery Jones,[15] Kathleen Kim,[16] Spencer Lott, John Tartaglia, Eric Wright[17])
Guest Stars
Sara Bareilles, Aloe Blacc, Alan Cumming, Fifth Harmony, Nick Jonas, Ne-Yo, Pharrell, Gina Rodriguez, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gwen Stefani




External links[]

Previous season: Next season:
Season 45 (2014-2015) Season 47 (2017)