Dec 5, 2013

The Electric Company: Bringing You the Power

Kids in the 1970s who were too old for the numbers and letters of  Sesame Street graduated to The Electric Company (1971-77).  Instead of "Come and play, everything's a-ok," they yelled "We're gonna turn it on, we're gonna bring you the power!"  They taught you words with Saturday Night Live-style parodies of everything from Julia Child to The Six Million Dollar Man.  

The cast included future superstars Morgan Freeman, Bill Cosby, and Rita Moreno.

I never saw it, but I imagine that, like Sesame Street, there was only limited gay content.  Maybe just Morgan Freeman naked in a bathtub.

In 2009, a refurbished Electric Company appeared on PBS.  Instead of sketch comedy, it specialized in adventure: four kids with superpowers take on the corruption in their neighborhood (through the power of words), notably an evil anti-literacy gang called The Pranksters. Sort of like Whiz Kids, or Ghostwriter.

The kids were:
1. Athletic Hector (Josh Segarra, left)
2. His feminine-coded sidekick Keith (Ricky Smith, right)
3. His sister, singer/dancer Jessica (P-Star)
4. Intellectual Lisa (Jenni Barber)
5. Young gun Marcus (Coy Stewart)

Unlike the 1970s series, there was significant buddy-bonding between Hector and Keith, as well as between the main Pranksters, the hefty Manny (Dominic Colon) and Danny (William Jackson Harper).

And beefcake.  These were teenagers and young adults, not kids.

And gay content.  Between the 2006 pilot and the 2009 premiere, Josh Segarra starred in the gay-themed comedy The Boys Upstairs off Broadway.