Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” is maybe my most favorite song of all time. It so perfectly captures the heartbreaking frustration of loving someone who is so, so bad for you, who can’t give you what you deserve, and doesn’t deserve what you have to give.
I was recently talking about my love for the song and was reminded that Smokey Robinson actually sang it on “Sesame Street” back in the ’80s, in a segment that, in retrospect, is PROFOUNDLY CREEPY. Basically, the letter U (depicted as a female letter on account of the felt lipstick and eyelashes) has really got a hold on Smokey. Like, she is obsessed with him. The letter U, who appears to be drunk, is flirting with Smokey, making eyes at Smokey, sidling up to Smokey and touching Smokey on the shoulder. Smokey, on the other hand, is not interested in the letter U. Like, at all. The more Smokey ignores the letter U, the more she straight sexually harasses and manhandles him, groping him in all manner of places, wrapping herself around his legs as he tries to fight her off. At one point, she even tries to drag Smokey off to her alphabet lair, before he thankfully gets away and takes off running in terror!
Rewatching this segment, I was left with the distinct impression that the letter U was trying to rape Smokey Robinson. Can you imagine if the genders were reversed and Diana Ross was singing the song, while a male letter U, in a bowtie or something, was groping her and trying to drag her away? It never would have aired!
All that being said, I am weirdly tickled that somehow this bizarre, creepy and utterly inappropriate celebration of the letter U’s predatory perversion made it onto children’s television.
Original by Amelia McDonell-Parry @xoamelia