As the latest season of Game of Thrones has shown, Westeros is at war. The divide between factions has stretched the Seven Kingdoms to the breaking point, and it seems that there’s only one hope for peace. Not Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, or Jon Snow and his overdeveloped sense of righteousness. No, as HBO’s latest promotion shows, only Elmo, from House Sesame Street, can save the realm now.
“Elmo thinks that you two need to respect each other,” says Elmo, bursting into a tense negotiation between Tyrion and Cersei Lannister. “When Elmo has a problem with his friends like Abby or Cookie Monster, Elmo doesn’t get upset. Elmo listens and learns from what they have to say.” But instead of getting carved up into fuzzy red bits by the zombified corpse of The Mountain (as would probably happen on actual Game of Thrones), it seems that the fuzzy Muppet has accomplished what years of fighting and countless lives could not.
Just Cersei and Tyrion, toasting Elmo with goblets of wine after the Muppet negotiates a peace treaty
“If we stop fighting and work together, we can be stronger,” muses Tyrion, echoing the arguments made by Jon Snow in the season 7 premiere, when the would-be King of the North brought a wight before Cersei to try to sway her to their cause. But Elmo seems to have succeeded where irrefutable evidence of the undead hordes about to annihilate the entire living population of Westeros (which apparently, includes Sesame Street somewhere) failed, convincing Cersei and Tyrion to try to put aside their differences and respect each other.
They then toast Elmo with goblets of wine.
At this point in this surreal tableau of branded content, you may suddenly remember that HBO has a deal with Sesame Workshop, granting the premium cable network exclusive first-run rights to the popular children’s show. This video is part of a new Sesame Street campaign about respecting others, which is being conveyed through one of the most violent, sexual, and overall least-appropriate-for-small-children series on television, featuring the actual actors from that series.
This isn’t the first Sesame / Thrones collaboration, either. There was the Game of Chairs parody segment that aired during an episode of Sesame Street back in 2015, and a Share the Laughter campaign with Thrones star Kit Harington in 2017.
This all would be bizarre enough on its own, but HBO didn’t stop there: there’s also “Respect World,” an even weirder parody that sees Cookie Monster — a visitor from an as-yet-unseen Delos park, Sesame World — join Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) in the middle of one of their sessions.
Like the Game of Thrones segment, this clip is communicating a message of mutual respect and open communication. But it’s hard to remember that when your brain is trying to parse Cookie Monster serving cookies in front of glasses of Westworld’s weird milk goo (#Milkworld), as a piano player covers the show’s theme song in its signature style.
HBO’s campaign also includes a rap by Common, featuring Muppet versions of Cersei, Tyrion, Bernard, and Delores singing and dancing along with the Sesame Street gang.
Mercifully, these are the only crossover clips HBO’s posted so far, but we can only imagine the possibility of where Sesame Workshop and HBO could take things next. Will Bert and Ernie join Tony Soprano to help work out his guilt over senseless Mafia killings? Maybe Grover can team up with Al Swearengen? The possibilities are endless.