'Sesame Street' Writer Says Bert & Ernie Are a Gay Couple, Show Denies It

Meaghan Darwish
Matthew Simmons/Getty Images

It may be a silly notion to ponder the sexuality of puppets, but it's an idea that's been on the mind of Sesame Street fans for years.

Bert and Ernie have long been roommates on the nearly 40-year-old kids program, which has always had fans wondering if they're more than friends. And that's remained a mystery until this week... sort of.

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Former show writer Mark Saltzman has caused a quick frenzy over some answers he gave to Queerty about his time on the show. Addressing the rumors directly, he said, "I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were [lovers]. I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as 'Bert & Ernie.'"

The "Arnie" that Saltzman is referring to is his longtime partner Arnold Glassman, an accomplished editor who worked on films like Frailty and Raising Arizona. Glassman passed away in 2003.

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"Yeah, I was Ernie. [Though] 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 organization? And I was the jokester. So it was the Bert & 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 & Ernie dynamic."

Saltzman's interpretation may confirm what many have thought through the years, but a statement released by Sesame Workshop maintains that it's just that — an interpretation. Posted on Twitter, it reads:

"As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

So even if they aren't officially a couple, Saltzman's statements give clear insight into what the writers were thinking at the time of their creation. And one thing's for sure: You can't have Bert without Ernie.

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