It’s Valentine’s Day! A day for romance, tiny candy hearts that taste like chalk, and naked flying babies armed with sharp projectile weapons. It’s on days like this when we feel inspired by stories of true love, acted out by our favorite beloved characters.
So of course, I want to focus on that iconic Muppet couple, whose love blossomed on The Muppet Show and continues to stir feelings of passion amongst their fans and around the world.
No, not them. We’ve heard enough about those two. Their on-again-off-again relationship is dysfunctional at best, and destructive at its worst. No, I’m talking about a very different Muppet couple.
Not these two either. Gonzo can hardly tell his chickens apart, leading us to believe he’s either in a Big Love-esque relationship (hey, not that there’s anything wrong with that) or he’s a cult leader. Are Camilla’s clucks the sounds of sweet nothings, or are they a cry for help? No, we’re talking about the real love affair of The Muppet Show.
That’s 0-for-3! Floyd and Janice may seem like a match made in heaven, but we really don’t know anything about their pairing other than a few duets and offhand remarks. What’s the story with Janice’s ex, Zoot? What does Dr. Teeth think of the inter-band canoodling? Is Animal just one broken chain link away from ravishing the only female member of the band? Their relationship has too many unanswered questions, and it’s far too mysterious to consider the great love story of the Muppets.
No, the love I’m referring to is that of an old janitor and a haughty aristocrat.
This unlikely duo is the epitome of Muppet love. They truly embody the concept of “opposites attract”, but not in some obvious, bizarre way. I mean, this isn’t an elephant marrying a mouse, or a radiator dating the ethereal concept of pride. It’s just some shlub and some stuck-up lady trying to make it in this crazy world.
Not much is known about Mildred Huxtetter. She’s incredibly inconsistent when it comes to her performers, having been tossed around between Frank Oz, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Louise Gold, and more. (Even the “Muppet Morsels” trivia on the season 1 DVDs confuse Eren Ozker as her performer, even though we’ve never seen her version of Mildred.) She’s highly educated (having earned a BA, MA, PhD, OBE, and RSVP), has strong opinions, and dresses like someone twice her age. She also seems to want more than what the Muppets can provide (having listed her ambition for becoming a soprano at the Metropolitan Opera within her job description as the Muppet Magazine proofreader).
George the Janitor has only ever had one main performer – Frank Oz. He takes serious pride in his work cleaning up around the Muppet Theater, until he was ultimately replaced by Beauregard. He doesn’t seem to have much education, knowing not much beyond washing floors. George has likely been working as a janitor for his entire life, and he’ll likely keep doing it until he drops dead.
But there’s one thing that bonds these two together: Love.
Just watch Mildred dance with Charles Aznavour. This is a woman who has closed herself off to emotion, only to see it all rush back just from a dance with a Frenchman. It’s obvious that Mildred has been alone for a long time, and has relegated herself to a life of loneliness. That is, until she finds that spark of love, when her heart opens wide enough to engulf a fully grown human being.
Meanwhile, George is in a similar position. He’s also likely been alone for most of his adult life. So alone, in fact, that he begins to find his mop attractive. So attractive, in fact, that he actually professes his love for his mop. Now, this could be the act of a mentally ill man. But it could also be the desperation that comes with a long bout of loneliness, the only cure to which is an actual relationship with someone equally needful.
George and Mildred have one other thing in common, and there’s a good chance you’ve guessed it already. They love to dance.
Ballroom dancing is the type of thing that a couple might do in the early days of dating. It’s a shared interest to bond over, it’s the sort of activity where you can talk and get to know each other, and it allows you to be close, both physically and emotionally. George and Mildred danced together over and over again in The Muppet Show’s “At the Dance” segments.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they danced well. George had a bad habit of stepping on Mildred’s toes or banging his head against her chin, while Mildred could get her head stuck in a chandelier. She danced slow and stuff, while he stared at his own feet while bouncing up and down. They just didn’t seem to mesh. Like, at all.
But when they danced together, they were happy. They were bonded. They found in each other a partner who could fill the empty spaces in their lives. They didn’t need Frenchmen or mops; they had each other.
By the end of the first season of The Muppet Show, we rarely saw either George or Mildred. I like to think that they ran off together, leaving the chaos of the Muppet family behind so they could find a life together. Mildred would sing (poorly) at her piano while George would clean up around her, all while purple-beaked babies with beady eyes and receding hairlines looked up at them from their cribs.
And, of course, there would be dancing. Clumsy, awkward dancing, filled with all the love those two former loners could provide.
And that, all you romantics out there, is the real love story of The Muppet Show.
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by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com