This episode of Everyone is Horrible is brought to you by the letters W, T, and F, and the number 20,000,000. The US government has withdrawn funding from a $20 million project designed to launch the Pakistani version of Sesame Street after it was revealed that the puppet theater that was supposed to be creating quality children's television was actually so riddled in corruption that the money was being siphoned away from Pakistan's answer to Kermit and into the pockets of Pakistan's answer to Charles Grodin in The Great Muppet Caper.
According to the AP, the show was being launched in response to Pakistani kids' limited access to education and a rising tide of extremism in the country. Only a third of elementary school aged kids there don't go to school, and with a particularly intolerant brand of religious extremism gaining ground in the country, the US government hoped a kids' show about learning and getting along would fill an empty niche. They employed a local troupe of simple puppeteers called the Rafi Peer Theater Workshop to get the job done.
And the premise of the show, called Sim Sim Hamara, sounds promising,
The show is led by a vivacious 6-year-old girl named Rani who loves cricket and traditional Pakistani music. Her sidekick, Munna, is a 5-year-old boy obsessed with numbers and banging away on Pakistani bongo drums, or tabla. Other new characters include Baily, a kindly donkey who loves to sing, and Haseen O Jameel, a vain crocodile who lives at the bottom of a well.
The show takes place in a small Pakistani town, adventures are had, diversity celebrated, songs that will likely get stuck in Pakistani viewers' heads as adults sung. It began airing in December.
The $20 million grant was supposed to float the show through three seasons, but now it looks like it won't even get through one; the grant was cancelled after a Pakistani newspaper wrote that officials at the puppet theater responsible for the project were actually using the US taxpayer money to pay off their old debts and give exorbitant contracts to their friends and relatives. Basically, it was the puppet theater equivalent of the City of Chicago.
Anyway, congratulations, Rafi Peer Theater Workshop. You've made Elmo cry.