The Muppets, a Reaction

I don’t know about you, but I was super excited about The Muppets coming back to television. They are a part of my childhood and I love them. I even own the first season of the old Muppets variety show. I have seen all the old movies and the recent resurgence of the Muppets in the movies was fabulous. It was such a fun re-introduction to these characters that we know and love. The Muppet characters are something that I want to introduce to Geek Baby some day.

So we sat down tonight excited to watch the first episode of The Muppets, but in the end we were disappointed. Instead of getting something whimsical and fun, it ended up just blah.

Not a Variety Show

One of the great parts of the original Muppet Show was the fact that it was a variety show. All of the Muppets put on a variety of bits that were often so funny and just entertaining. They took you out of your hum drum life and took you to someplace spontaneous and fun.

The new Muppet Show on the other hand decides to show Kermit and company running a successful late night show that is hosted by Miss Piggy. Instead of the characters being zany or quirky they seem to be worn down from the weight of things. They tried to take something zany, exciting, and unpredictable and turned it into a drudgery.

Miss Piggy

Now speaking of Miss Piggy they have turned her from the lovable Diva into an overbearing boss. I mean Miss Piggy has always been a big personality who knows what she wants and goes after it. The show has her come across as someone that everyone is afraid of and that she does not actually care about anyone else.

Now while Miss Piggy has always been over the top she has never been mean. There has always been some problems with her character, but she has always been a strong, confident woman who cares about the other Muppets. How she is portrayed in the new show very much comes across that the woman boss can only be overbearing and mean.

The Break Up

The other half that comes along with the misrepresentation of Miss Piggy is the promotion for the show was the scandal of Kermit and Miss Piggy breaking up. Now this could have been played off in a cute way, but it turns out to be really sad. The part that bothers me the most is that Miss Piggy comes off as selfish and uncaring for Kermit. Then you have Kermit already dating someone else, also a pig, and she comes across very submissive and nice. The fact that she is nice is not a problem in and of itself, but it definitely sends a bit of a message that the woman needs to support her man and not the other way around. It just really rubbed me the wrong way.

General Character Changes

This all leads to the overall issue and that is that many of the Muppets themselves just do not feel the same. It is a subtle shift, but there is definitely a sense that the core of who these Muppet characters are is not the same. The Muppets is meant to be fun for the whole family, but the new show definitely seems to be taking them in a more adult direction. The problem is that they have taken the joy out of the Muppets. I am willing to keep watching to see if the joy gets found again, but I admit that I am not hopeful.

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16 responses to “The Muppets, a Reaction

  1. Oh no! I’ve always loved the Muppets but probably won’t get the chance to see the new show for ages so I was interested to hear other people’s reactions to it. The 2 recent big screen films were so much fun (the first one more than the 2nd) and so true to the spirit of the Muppets I loved as a kid so I was hopeful about the new series but I’ve read quite a few reviews like yours now, from people who found it seemed a bit like a tired soap opera. Such a shame.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I share your initial reactions. Nothing really felt objectionable to me, it just felt … unmagical? It had The Office type of feel, which is okay if you’re the Office or Modern Family (with that documentary-style approach) but like you said, it was kind of lacking in joy.

    It would be different if it was more zany. We know we’ve seen successful comedy shows about a late night television/variety show (30 Rock) and not so successful ones (Studio 60) so if they want to go one way or the other, trying to aim for 30 Rock might be better.

    Maybe they can adapt, since I think the initial reactions have not been super excited.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sounds so different. Not a fan already. At least we have the good old stuff, right?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am glad I didn’t try to catch this right away, thanks for the heads up in case I do decide to see what’s up soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “The part that bothers me the most is that Miss Piggy comes off as selfish and uncaring for Kermit.”

    Miss Piggy has always been selfish and uncaring towards Kermit. Only back then it was just a running gag about an old vaudeville trope, and not part of some greater media meta-narrative about feminism. The biggest irony of trying to turn Miss Piggy into a “feminist icon” is that it ends up reflecting badly women because it essentially lionizes a (fictional) abusive narcissistic sociopath as being the model for a strong woman. What made Miss Piggy and her relationship with Kermit funny all those years ago was the “Man, we all know someone like her(loud, obnoxious, abusive), amirite?” pathos. We could laugh because we were not in a relationship with or not friends with someone like her, or were at least glad we were not as bad as her, to relieve the social pressures and fears of actually having to deal with people that awful. I mean, thank god we weren’t Kermit, right? Why over the last 20 years folks decided Miss Piggy was some kind of role model for women and girls to look up to is beyond me. I mean, imagine if boys were taught that some puppet Ike Turner was a paragon of manly virtue!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe she shouldn’t have become a feminist icon but that fact that she has I think needs to be treated with care. I do not remember Miss Piggy being so mean still. She was over the top and dramatic but I always took that as big emotions.

      Like

      • Well, before, it was played for laughs in the simple lines of slap-stick ala Punch & Judy; it was funny to watch puppets beat each other up and no one would ever bother to look at the dark undercurrents of abuse underpinning that relationship. But with the Muppets, as they’ve gotten more “mature” and been presented more and more towards adult rather than general audiences, it’s impossible to ignore the psychological and emotionally abusive aspects of characters when they’re being presented as more than just the embodiment of a few comedy tropes. The meanness was easy to overlook because her character operated within just a handful of narrow criteria, with no motivation beyond being in the limelight. In short, it was funny.

        Miss Piggy has gone from a simple embodiment of “vanity, selfishness, and violence” as a figure of fun, to “vanity, thoughts on abortion, selfishness, Gloria Steinem, Women’s Rights, suffrage, and violence” as someone presented as though they are to be taken seriously and listened to on topics of actual relevance. I think that’s only a small part of the bigger problem with the modern Muppets. The Muppets are not allowed to simply be fun any more. There’s too much cultural subtext around them, from Piggy’s abusive nature to Gonzo sexual deviance (imagine if Gonzo came out on Salon in favor of Zoophilia), to let the Muppets simply be the zany caricatures they once were. Instead we get Muppets being constantly shown as down and outs scraping by in the sad and empty existence of show business by fighting against or being ground down by whatever cultural strawmen are en vogue at the time.

        I really hope that someday someone with a good head on their shoulder rescues the Muppets from what has been done to them since Jim died, but I don’t know if we’ll see it any time soon.

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  6. I don’t know anyone who saw it and wasn’t disappointed.

    Liked by 2 people

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