by Aprille Hanson
In the 2015 reboot of America’s favorite cloth puppets, ABC’s “The Muppets” are making old fans and a whole new generation laugh.
But, as Kermit says, it’s not easy being green … or having an edgy TV show.
The original debut of Jim Henson’s Muppets began with the 1979-1981 “The Muppet Show” about the Muppets putting on a weekly variety show. The premise made sense for that time period which saw the rise in popular variety shows like “The Carol Burnett Show,” “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” and “The Johnny Cash Show.” I will admit, and this will surely lose me some credibility, but I don’t remember much about the original Muppet series. It was before I was born and although I have seen things like “The Muppet Movie” (1979) and likely had seen reruns as a kid of “The Muppet Show,” I am hard-pressed to remember much of them. I have yet to see the other two most recent incarnations -- “The Muppets” 2011 movie and “Muppets Most Wanted” movie in 2014. My main basis will always be 1992’s “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” which I watch almost every Christmas, so I’m certainly familiar with the Muppets.
That’s why going into the 2015 TV reboot, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Even though the Muppets are beloved, I didn’t see how they were going to hold most young adults attention because I figured it would be more of a kid-type show.
Boy, was I wrong. The series is a mocumentary-style (think “Modern Family”), interviewing the Muppets behind the scenes as they work hard to put on Miss Piggy’s late night talk show. It goes beyond the show however, into their personal lives -- Kermit dumped Miss Piggy for a pig in marketing named Denise (isn’t that always how it goes?); Fozzie the Bear is trying hard to impress his girlfriend’s parents who don’t like that he’s a bear (his girlfriend Becky is played by Riki Lindhome); Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem band is full of hippies and heavy rockers that were more than eager to buy a large supply of cookies because they were, um, uh … unexplainably hungry?; and there is of course Miss Piggy who is the ultimate diva who reminds me so much of Jane Krakowski’s Jenna Maroney in NBC’s multi-Emmy winner “30 Rock.”
In fact, that’s exactly the show “The Muppets” can be compared to -- “30 Rock” with Muppets. This is amazing for fans because it’s extremely funny and witty, way beyond what I ever thought it could be. Parents can watch it with their young kids who can laugh at the funny Muppets while the jokes fly over their head and right to their parents, who will also be busy laughing hysterically.
It never occurs to me when I’m watching the show that I’m watching a bunch of … dare I say it … inanimate objects. Gasp! OK, I’m sorry, the Muppets are real actors; at least that’s what it feels like. It helps to have guest stars come in and out -- so far it’s been people like former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, actress Elizabeth Banks, singer Josh Groban, rockers Imagine Dragons and a brief, but hilarious, moment with actor Laurence Fishburne.
The show works because it caters to young adults with biting and sometimes crass humor. So what’s the problem? Well, the group that claims to fight “indecency” called One Million Moms is up in arms because the Muppets are “perverted” and are no longer what Jim Henson envisioned. If parents actually think their children will understand the jokes, then by all means, don’t have them watch. But the subtleties and the innuendos are not something that most will get and even if they do, they’ve heard much worse, probably on a Disney show.
The Muppets are no more perverted than they are human. It is a hilarious show and while it’s not always easy being green or edgy, the Muppets are better for it.