A Sesame Street writer has confirmed that beloved characters Bert and Ernie were written as a same-sex couple, after years of speculation by parents and their kids alike.
Writer Mark Saltzman, who joined the show’s writing team in 1984, said the two characters very much reflected his own same-sex relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman at the time.
“I remember one time that a pre-schooler [in San Francisco] turned to her mum and asked ‘Are Bert and Ernie lovers?’ and that, coming from a pre-schooler, was fun,” he said in an interview with Queerty.
“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.”
Saltzman added that many people would refer to himself and Glassman as Bert and Ernie.
“Yeah, I was Ernie,” he said.
“I look more Bert-ish. And Arnie as a film editor – if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organisation?
“And I was the jokester. So, it was the Bert and Ernie relationship, and 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. I wrote sketches… Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert and Ernie dynamic.”