A LOOK BACK: the muppets.
The other day, Disney+ announced that a new unscripted Muppet show called Muppets Now will start streaming on July 31. So, I decided to dust off some old Muppets programming and movies to get ready. One of the programs I started off with was the muppets. which aired on ABC in 2015. Many blame the series and its wayward way for making the Muppets take a step back from the shining resurgence they were making. So, I wanted to see if the show was as bad as I remembered it. And, honestly, it isn't bad at all. It's not great either. But, I found the show enjoyable.
I think the problem is that the show never really knew what audience to target. It wanted to target a more adult audiences. Perhaps the adult audience like me who grew up watching The Muppet Show when it first came out. The adult audience who now understand some of the subversive nature of the show to start off with.
But, the problem is that Disney just came out with two movies that were clearly aimed at a more family friendly audience. So, when families tuned in to the show, they were greeted with some fairly ribald and mature content. And, that didn't sit well with today's audience of the Muppets and people stopped watching. And, that sealed the fate for one of America's most popular family friendly franchises.
Some content that might raise an eyebrow for a parent including Fozzie making a joke about getting the "wrong" kind of responses to his ad being a passionate bear, Zoot's many references to being on drugs and in rehab, and Rizzo wanting his girlfriend Yolanda to be a "friend with benefits." Some of the sophomoric humor among Gonzo, Rizzo and Pepe I could personally have done without. Otherwise, the show is rather innocuous in my book. And, some of it is fairly good thanks to the more mature nature.
The show, told in mockumentary style, revolved around Kermit producing his now ex-girlfriend Piggy's talk show Up Late With Miss Piggy. The rest of the Muppets took different roles, including Gonzo, Rizzo and Pepe being writers, Scooter being a talent handler, the Swedish Chef being Craft services and so on and so forth. Different guest stars would appear on the show like Elizabeth Banks, Reese Witherspoon, Joseph Goron-Levitt and more.
I actually quite enjoyed the exchanges between Kermit and Miss Piggy. The jokes between them never really got too overly sexual. Their relationship is as timeless as the first moment we saw them together on The Muppet Show, always pushing and pulling, but, always passionate. I am hoping we eventually learn the fate of the two as the 16 episode series left us with a pretty serious cliffhanger.
Bill Prady, the creator of the The Big Bang Theory and of this show, began his career as a production assistant for Jim Henson and you can tell he knows who these characters were. He just lost the target audience. With Muppets Now, I really do hope the new creators take a step back and look at The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted or even back to The Muppet Movie. There is a way to be mature and speak to adults by being more subversive than straight out sexual. An unscripted show sounds a great deal of fun. It just requires balance.