Natasha Lance RogoffFeb 10, 2023
Muppets in Moscow
The Unexpected Crazy True Story of Making Sesame Street in Russia
Rowman & Littlefield 2022
It’s the early 1990s, and the USSR is no more. An intrepid young American TV producer has been given a seemingly foolhardy task: bringing the beloved children’s show Sesame Street to Russia, and the rest of the post-Soviet sphere.
This is the premise of Muppets in Moscow: The Unexpected Crazy True Story of Making Sesame Street in Russia (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022)—a memoir from that aforementioned producer, Natasha Lance Rogoff. Amidst car bombings, soldiers kidnapping Elmo, and a collapsing ruble, Lance Rogoff assembles a team of Russian creatives to adapt Sesame Street into Ulitsa Sezam, as the show is known in Russian. While culture clashes ensue at first, they eventually give way to cross-cultural empathy, as Lance Rogoff poignantly illustrates in the book. It’s a story that feels especially resonant in the present day, with Russia and the West again at opposite ends of a daunting geopolitical divide.
Lance Rogoff talks with the New Books Network's Anthony Kao about how she came to produce Sesame Street in Russia, and gives us a taste of the adventures contained within Muppets in Moscow.
Anthony Kao is a writer who intersects international affairs and cultural criticism. He founded/edits Cinema Escapist—a publication exploring the sociopolitical context behind global film and television—and also writes for outlets like The Guardian, The Diplomat, and Eater.