Josh is joined by Jordan Duncan, a coordinator at the Museum of Puppetry Arts and a long time Muppets fan. They discuss the recent cancellation of The Muppets on television and ask, “What’s Next for the Muppets?” As Disney grows, it seems like every division continues to be a homerun. Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and so on, have all found their stride and are major successes for Disney, but The Muppets franchise continues to feel lost without knowing where to really go with it. Is it a nostalgia act? Can it be modern? Is it for adults? Is it for children? We try to answer all of these questions and more!
Be sure to follow Jordan on Twitter (@JordanGhastly) or on Instagram to chat more about Muppets, Jim Henson, or the Puppetry Arts in general.
After last week’s debut of The Muppets on ABC, it seems like moms everywhere took to social media to pronounce The Muppets as “distasteful and unsafe for children”. The outcry against the Muppets seems somewhat justified as The Muppet show of yester and the Muppet films have been generally kid friendly. I totally get where these critics are coming from but as I watched the Muppets play out on my television, I saw jokes aimed for family audiences and a few adult jokes that would clearly fly over children’s heads.
We also live in an age where animation is used for both children and adults. Looking at a show title for Family Guy vs. Gravity Falls, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and you may let your children watch both. We also live in an age where hardly anything is G rated. Most television shows fall into that PG to PG-14 rating. It’s what sells and television is still in the business of making money.
The Muppets had to change and that’s just a fact. Putting the same Kermit and friends on television that we’ve seen for almost 50 years now wouldn’t do the Henson creatures any favors. I like that Kermit and Piggy have broken up. I like that we are seeing another side to these characters. All of us aren’t pure, do-gooders of the world. We all make mistakes, cave in to vices, have jealousy, or make poor decisions, but we all want to be the best people we can be. To me, that’s what the show is trying to showcase. A group of people (or frogs, pigs, and whatevers) trying to live life the best they can. This isn’t the stage show variety hour we all grew up watching. This was meant to be that behind the scenes showcase where we don’t necessarily get characters that put on smiles and fake it for the camera.
The Muppets continue to do what they do best and that’s make people happy. I can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy seeing these pieces of felt and fur on tv again and you can tell that the guest celebrities they’ve brought to the show are delighted to be a part of it. Sure we went from G to PG and some of our characters aren’t in the roles we’ve come to know over the decades, but this fresh take is still purely Jim Henson and still feels like The Muppets. I believe that Jim would enjoy this show and would want to push his characters in bold new directions making sure everyone could come along for the ride and laugh the whole way there.
What do you think of the new Muppet show? Do you love it or hate it? What would you change if you could? Keep the conversation rolling in the comments below!