Grab your coat, grab your hat and meet me on the doorstep 'cause we're going to direct our feet to the shady side of the street—the Sesame side.
After revealing a budget plan that sought to gut America's cultural and intellectual programs such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which brings you things like PBS and NPR, it's safe to say Donald Trump is not welcome on Sesame Street. But as The Washington Post discovered, Trump has never been a popular presence on the iconic block.
Depicted as a grouch (as in Oscar The) who in the '80s and '90s went by the name Ronald Grump—and later during his Apprentice days, Donald Grump—the Trump muppet brought with him greed, chaos, and dysfunction. Just like in real life. In his first appearance in the late-80s, he cons Oscar The Grouch into selling his trash can way below market value—I mean, three bags of trash? That's Reaganomics for ya. Oscar, now installed in his Grump Tower duplex, faces eviction after Grump learns he has pets.
When Oscar objects and demands his old can back, Grump agrees, but only if Oscar gives him 40 bags of trash—aka, his life's savings. The residents of Sesame Street gather together and dump their garbage in front of Grump Tower, thus saving the day. If only it was that easy for the black tenants Trump and his daddy refused to rent to back in the '70s. But then again, Sesame Street was never one for messy, complex resolutions. But firmly entrenched in the belief that reading is fundamental, the Street opened up the library on Ronald Grump again in 1994.
For Sesame Street's 25th anniversary, Grump's the same crooked real estate developer, this time threatening to demolish Sesame Street to put up one of his garbage
Trump Grump Towers. Grump is in full dirt-bag mode—played by none other than Joe Fucking Pesci—making threats, sexually assaulting female reporters (in a wholesome, family way, of course), and generally making himself a plague on humankind the show. However, Oscar saves the day, stymieing Grump's plans with info that his trash can is government property. With Sesame Street saved, everyone—Ronald Grump included—joins in for a big old sing-along.
Grump's latest—and according to PBS, probably final—appearance was in 2005. A version of Trump even less thinly-veiled than before, Donald Grump is an orange-haired celebrity known for his vast accumulations of garbage, "whose name equals trash." Just like in real life. Grump pits Elmo, Oscar, and Oscar's girlfriend Grundgetta against each other to be his Apprentice. Elmo works hard and wins the competition, but Grump refuses to make him his apprentice because hard work is not one of his core values. But Elmo don't care—Elmo's out here living his life and was just happy to help. And to get in on some of that orange wig action.
Though it's silly—but clearly, considering the course of events these past few months, not at all far-fetched—to think that Donald Trump has some long-standing beef with Big Bird, the feeling is not mutual. After the Post's Grump exposé ran, a spokesperson for the Sesame Workshop reached out to clarify a few things: "It’s been over ten years since we featured the Donald Grump character and we have no plans to bring him back. As you know, our content has always been politically agnostic."
A secret Trump vendetta notwithstanding, the nearly 50-year-old show is safe thanks to a deal with HBO. The cable company has exclusive rights to Sesame Street, under which PBS receives episodes nine months later, for free. That arrangement could be in jeopardy with Trump's budget proposal, which—much like the name Grump—equals trash.