Hurt. Disappointed. Sad.
That's how I felt last week, when I first read the news that three beloved and longtime cast members of Sesame Street--Roscoe Orman (known to viewers as Gordon), Emilio Delgado (Luis), and Bob McGrath--had been let go.
These three gentlemen helped teach invaluable lessons to me, and countless others. When Gordon and Bob helped cheer up Big Bird, they cheered me up, too. As Luis and friends taught Spanish to Oscar the Grouch, I learned along with him.
And now, as the father of two young children myself, I'd fallen in love with the series all over again.
That's why I couldn't help but feel down when I read the news. I was well aware that cable network HBO had purchased the rights to Sesame Street, and that certain changes would be inevitable. For example, episodes were cut down to 30 minutes (they were previously one hour), and longtime head writer Joey Mazzarino departed soon after.
But this was different. How could you fire Gordon, Luis and Bob? That's like firing your own grandfathers.
The Response and What Happened Next
Heartbroken fans took to Twitter to voice their displeasure, as others supported their sentiments:
HBO proves to be the worst monster Sesame Street has ever faced!-- Brad Jones (@thecinemasnob) July 28, 2016
As longtime "Sesame Street" cast members get laid off, old-school fans worry that the show is losing its heart. https://t.co/PNHy1abdsn-- The New Yorker (@NewYorker) July 30, 2016
The HBO-owned Sesame Street fired Luis and Gordon. This is what TV gentrification looks like: Buy the ghetto, ditch the old brown people.-- Baenardin (@marcbernardin) July 28, 2016
Then, as many begged the show to reverse course, it appears that we may just have gotten our wish.
Friday, Fox News Latino published a story indicating Sesame Street has heard the voices of the public, and is reconsidering their decision. The network included a message from Delgado:
"Due to your overwhelming reaction regarding the status of myself and others on the show, the new producers of 'Sesame Street' have reached out to us with an expressed desire to continue our longstanding relationship, to be initiated with a meeting in September. Hopefully, this will result in the inclusion of veteran cast members in upcoming productions. I look forward to sharing with you at such time, the results of that conversation. Thanks again for your loving support and devotion to 'Sesame Street' and to what it has meant to the children of the world."
Will that upcoming meeting result in a change in direction? Time will tell.
What Can We Learn from It All
I've written before about the value older workers offer to an organization.
Yes, technology, the younger generation, and even the world itself is changing rapidly. But there's simply no better teacher than experience--especially when you can learn from someone else's.
Of course, that doesn't mean that there is never a time to retire, or that companies and organizations must keep older workers in the same jobs or positions as long as humanly possible.
But if change is needed, work hard to dignify your older workers. Try to find a way to continue to benefit from their knowledge and experience. Trust me, your organization will be the better for it.
Hopefully, the folks at Sesame Street have figured that out.