When The Muppet Show hits Disney Plus tomorrow(!), a lot of viewers will be seeing it for the first time in years. Many other viewers will be seeing it for the first time ever. It’s exciting to think that everyone who watches the sci-fi epics The Mandalorian and WandaVision will now also be able to watch the sci-fi epic “Pigs in Space.”
A few weeks ago on this website, our own Evan G wrote an article in which he warned our readers that if they start with season one of The Muppet Show, they might be surprised at how weird and different it is from what they might be expecting. If you haven’t read that, you should read it now – Evan provided a valuable public service.
Today I’d like to offer a similar warning for those who love the Muppets but might not be intimately familiar with the five seasons of the Muppets’ variety show. As you make your way through the series, you’re going to be faced with a reality that you might find shocking, so I want you to be prepared. Specifically, I want you to be prepared for this fact: On The Muppet Show, Kermit the Frog is a jerk sometimes.
Over the years, the Muppet movies have generally been more accessible to the general public than The Muppet Show. They’ve been on streaming services off and on, they’ve aired on TV countless times, and they’ve had multiple home video releases, at times accompanied by a free watch. (Did I say “get a free watch?” Yes, I said “get a free watch.”)
For fans who primarily know Kermit as the star of those films, he’s a noble everyman. He’s the guy who sings “Rainbow Connection” and “Together Again” and “One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas.” He’s the guy who gives uplifting speeches to his fellow Muppets. He’s the guy who falls in love with Miss Piggy and wants to marry her, or does marry her, or is married to her with four kids.
These are all lovely aspects of Kermit! I like that guy, and he’s one of my all-time favorite inspirational pop culture heroes (somewhere near the top of the list with Jefferson Smith, Atticus Finch, and Ed Grimley). But the version of him we’ve seen since the Muppets started making movies is a softer frog than the one who came before.
On The Muppet Show, Kermit is simultaneously hosting and producing a variety show, and he’s surrounded by crazy characters and desperately trying to keep things from falling apart. Fortunately for us, he often fails, and things do fall apart, in hilarious ways. But all this pressure has an effect on him. The Kermit of The Muppet Show is not unflappable. He is very flappable, to the point of… dare I say it?… meanness.
The next few paragraphs might be hard to read, so turn back now if you don’t think you have the stomach for it.
Kermit can be especially brusque in the early episodes of the first season, but his mean side appears here and there throughout the series. When a Muppet or a guest star suggests an act for the show and Kermit doesn’t love it, he doesn’t hesitate to tell them it’s bad. Such cruelty!
He frequently insults the acts that Gonzo pours his heart and soul into, telling him they’re “crummy” and “awful” and no one wants to see them. Devastating. When Piggy and Scooter stage a fake conversation to convince Kermit that Piggy has received an offer from another show, Kermit tells Scooter point blank that their acting was terrible. What an unbelievable bully!
He yells at people and chases them offstage. When Mark Hamill comes to Kermit hoping for a chance to be on the show, Kermit rejects all of his attempts and shouts at him to leave. When he and Piggy have an argument, he screams at her to tell her she’s fired. That’s completely inappropriate behavior for a boss speaking to an employee!
In the Linda Lavin episode, we find out that he fired the singing duo Wayne and Wanda, but he gives them another chance, in a rare moment of compassion. They’re overjoyed, but they only sing for a few seconds before Kermit forces them off the stage, yelling again and re-firing them. This supposedly nice, friendly leader is crushing the dreams and the self-esteem of the aspiring performers who rely on him for employment.
There are other examples, but I’m so scarred from writing about these that I can’t go on. Also, I’m too tired to click through Muppet Wiki looking for them right now. But I look forward to being reminded of them in the comments and replies on this article.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch The Muppet Show. But I hope I’ve sufficiently prepared you: When you watch The Muppet Show on Disney Plus, you’re going to witness the true viciousness of this so-called beloved figure of family entertainment. Get ready. This frog has teeth.
Click here to tell me this article is crummy and awful on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com