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Elmo just had a very bad week

I feel bad for bro

A photo of Elmo the puppet from Sesame Street on the Today Show. He is sitting behind a desk as he looks to the side. Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

I really hope that Elmo — and whoever else manages the social media accounts for Sesame Street — gets a vacation.

In the course of a week, the poor puppet became the vessel for the internet’s collective trauma dump and vent session, was attacked live on Today by Seinfeld-creator Larry David, and then further criticized by David after the renowned comedian said he would, “do it again,” if given the chance. Poor Elmo!

Elmo’s very bad, no good week started on Monday when the official Elmo account on X asked how people were doing. The original tweet said, “Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?” Clearly, the question struck a chord because the tweet went viral as thousands of people flooded the replies responding to the question. At time of publication, the original tweet had over 18,000 replies and was retweeted over 58,000 times. Many of which, focused on how horrible people are doing in general right now.

A representative tweet put it succinctly as, “Elmo we are tired.” But many other responses were even bleaker than that; as one said, “Every morning, I cannot wait to go back to sleep. Every Monday, I cannot wait for Friday to come.” Elmo’s replies and retweets essentially became a dumping ground for everyone’s sad feelings on the internet — but he stayed sweet throughout it all. The next day, the puppet was magnanimous enough to turn it into a learning moment: “Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing.” Following the incident, the Sesame Street account also followed up by sharing mental health resources.

The tweet ended up being so big, NBC’s talkshow, Today, invited Elmo on to be a guest. And on Thursday he made an appearance, alongside his dad Louie — and the same day as Seinfeld-creator Larry David guested on the show. In my opinion, Elmo did a great job of talking about the importance of mental health. But that didn’t protect him for what was to come.

After talking to the audience about the tweet, David got up from behind camera and attacked Elmo with seemingly no provocation on live national television. Then, David and shook the puppet by its throat and later yelled off-camera, “Somebody had to do it!”

David issued a reluctant apology to Elmo on Today, but then seemingly took took it back in a conversation on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Saying, “He was going on about mental health and I had to listen to every word, and I was going, Oh my god! Oh my god! I don’t think I could take another second of this,” David said while mimicking the voice of Elmo, “I couldn’t take it! And you know what, I would do it again.”

The actual absurdity of someone like Larry David — who has crafted a persona for being a curmudgeon — feels weirdly appropriate and plays like something straight out his show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Still, I can’t help but feel for Elmo. He’s always been quick to forgive and always wants to be there for all of us. I just hope after such a long week one of his friends can check in with him; as his mentions can tell us, it’s rough out there.

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