Muppets ABC press conference
The Disney people have been doing a great job of keeping the Muppets on people’s minds lately as the premiere of The Muppets draws nearer, but yesterday they really outdid themselves.

At a Television Critics Association press conference, producers Bill Prady and Bob Kushell talked about the tone of the new show, how the format will differ from The Muppet Show, and so on.  But ultimately, nobody cared about any of that stuff, because the other big announcement from the event was that Kermit and Miss Piggy have ended their relationship.  This was followed shortly by nearly identical tweets from the frog and the pig:

The true fans have been following all the news about The Muppets, so we’ve known for a few months now that the new series will find Kermit and Piggy uncoupled, with Kermit even dating another pig.  And we watched the 10-minute pilot presentation released online a couple weeks ago, we’ve also seen Piggy passionately making out with her apparent new beau, Topher Grace.

But not everyone is as cool and smart as we are, so when the official announcement started making headlines, it shocked the nation — nay, the world!  People quickly took to social media to react.  Even a few celebrities chimed in, including an opportunistic Emmy Rossum:

As a Muppet geek, I’m always fascinated to see how the audience at large responds when the Muppets are in the news.  I’m pretty sure that most intelligent humans are in on the joke on this one, but as I’ve clicked through a plethora of comments and tweets, I’ve spent a lot of time asking myself, “Who are these people?”  Here are some of the most common reactions I’ve seen:

rp_Kermit-yells-at-Piggy-again-300x285.jpg“How could they do this?  Kermit and Miss Piggy can’t break up!  Is nothing sacred?!”

Sure, they’re one of pop culture’s longest-running love stories, but the truth is they’ve broken up before.  Many times, in fact.  There are references to the end of their romance in The Jim Henson Hour, the movie The Muppets presented them as having parted ways years before, and there have been dozens of talk show interviews in which Kermit insists that they’re not together.   The only difference this time is that the development was presented to people with big, bold headlines.

Their relationship has never been very stable, and that’s why it’s funny!  We love seeing them squabble (to use their own word!), and we love seeing them end up together by the time the credits roll.  There’s just no way they won’t reconcile at some point on the new TV show.  In fact, maybe we should take bets about how many episodes it takes.

Pig of the Nineties logo“Jim Henson is spinning in his grave!”

I’m always so curious as to how these people became certified experts on what would or wouldn’t cause Jim Henson to spin in his grave.

I didn’t know Jim Henson personally, but I’m pretty sure I know more about the way he viewed his characters than everyone I rode the bus with this morning, and I don’t see why he would have any problem with this.  He and his collaborators were certainly interested in making the Muppet characters feel real and interesting, and this latest breakup does that without crossing any lines into out-of-character territory. (On that note, I haven’t seen a comment from Frank Oz anywhere, but I’d love to know what he thinks.)

Then there’s the “Pig of the Nineties” campaign.  In 1990, when Jim Henson was still with us, the Muppet folks were planning an extended marketing stunt to raise Miss Piggy’s profile, and the key to it all was making the public aware that Piggy had broken up with Kermit.  Jim passed away before the campaign could be fully realized, but its existence proves he wasn’t offended by the notion of a public frog/pig split.

Miss-Piggy-hugs-Kermit“Why is this being reported as news?  Horrible atrocities are being committed around the globe.  The Muppets are just CARTOON CHARACTERS!”

Well, no, they’re puppets, but I see what you mean.  But the fact is, news outlets are going to report on pop culture and celebrities anyway, and as evidenced by all the semi-straight-faced reports from serious news outlets, it’s fun for people to play along with this.

With most celebrity breakups, we watch the drama unfold as if it were a show for our entertainment, generally without stopping consider the feelings of the famous people whose real lives are being affected.  But with the Muppets, that’s not an issue.  They don’t have feelings! They don’t have real lives!  Most of the time they don’t even have legs!

SPLITSVILLE FOR KERGY THE POG?“Why are you bringing everyone down by doing a story about divorce in your puppet show?”

For them to get divorced, they’d have to be married first, and there’s never been an official word that Kermit and Piggy are married.  (The wedding in The Muppets Take Manhattan was a just a scene in a movie, of course.)  One of the great things about the Muppets is there’s no single continuity.  In this TV show, they’re not together, but if they make a movie in 2018 they could just as easily be married and living on the moon.

The writers aren’t trying to bring anyone down.  It’s sad when a couple breaks up, but did I mention the part where there’s no way they won’t get back together?

Fantastic Miss Piggy Kermit Piggy fight“They can’t fool me!  This is just a publicity stunt for their new TV show.”

Well, yeah.  I don’t use this word often, but… duh?  And it’s working!  People are talking about the Muppets, possibly even more than they ever did during the promotional blitz for Muppets Most Wanted.

 

So if you come across a casual Muppet fan bemoaning the fact that this means the end of love forever, here are the two things you should tell them: 1) They will get back together, and 2) You should watch The Muppets, Tuesdays on ABC at 8/7 Central to see how it all plays out.

Click here to be in on the joke on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com

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