I want to start this off with background before we get into the review of the actual show. I absolutely love the Muppets franchise. I love the movies, even the bad ones like Muppets from Space. I love the original show and own all the seasons they have put out for release, and I’ve been waiting for seasons 4 and 5 for about 5 years now. I loved Muppet Babies when I was a kid. I remember watching Muppets Tonight during its only season.
What sets them apart is a sense of positivity, togetherness and a wonderful view of the world that no matter how bad things get, together we can make our dreams come true and survive anything that life throws at us. Throw in some songs and dances and you’re in for a wonderful time. The characters come from archetypal and stereotyped caricatures and through the Muppets unique style, excel past their limitations. Miss Piggy isn’t just a diva. She’s a diva’s diva beyond all measure. Kermit isn’t just an everyman – He’s Tom Hank’s everyman.
Unfortunately everything I love about this franchise has vanished in this iteration. The new show is supposed to give us a look at the Muppets as the real characters when the cameras aren’t rolling on their other work. It’s a look behind the scenes as if they were real people, or bears and frogs. In doing so, they completely remove everything redeemable about the franchise.
Kermit is no longer the hopeful force of positivity that keeps everyone together. He’s a bitter, cynical, mean-hearted, whining frog that is stressed out of his mind.
Miss Piggy, who is no longer with Kermit, never shows the warm-hearted side of her anymore and is now completely the one dimensional selfish diva that has no rewarding characteristics.
Fozzy is simply pathetic now. Previously he was the right hand man of Kermit, always on his side to steer him back on the path of the positive if he were to fall. Instead, he’s relegated to being completely desperate for approval. If he is so desperate for approval, wouldn’t he have given up on his terrible comedy routine years ago?
The rest of the characters all have similar flaws added. They are no longer the joyful bunch of misfits that win our hearts and make us see the lighter side of the world. This is just another cynical joyless, unfunny, dark comedy. The only thing that’s different is that they’re puppets.
What’s interesting is that one of the original pilots for the original Muppet Show is called The Muppets: Sex and Violence. It was a parody of how shows on television were all consistently about those two subjects. Well guess what … The new show is about sex and violence. They make enough sex jokes that are just over the heads of young ones and on multiple times go for laughs through pure violence. They are now literally a dark parody of themselves. They have become The Moopets from the 2011 film. The only time I laughed in the whole show is when Elizabeth Banks told Scooter she was an actress and he replied that maybe she should act like she was interested in the tour he was giving her. I quickly realized as soon as I laughed how unlike the Muppets this was. That’s a bit that belongs in a Family Guy episode, not the Muppets.
4 years ago, the film The Muppets, with Jason Segel, showed us that the Muppets franchise can still deliver wonderful, positive, entertaining stories without having to be dark and cynical just like everything else. The film even garnered the best reviews of any of their films and grossed the total of the 5 previous films combined.
Now we are given a show with the same name, but the completely opposite attitude. If this is what Kermit is like behind the camera, then I don’t want to see him. Frankly, I don’t care for him as a character anymore. He is no longer interesting because they have removed everything about him that we loved. They say don’t meet your heroes. Well, watching Kermit act like this feels about the same to me as listening to Christian Bale go off on a guy on the Terminator set. Kermit may not be that horrible, but his fall from positive centerpiece to bitter jerk is just as far as Bale’s from normal guy to a**hole. The same goes for the rest of the gang. The show would be better off if it was anyone else in it.
In short, I hated this show. It’s dark and cynical and joyless and unfunny. It’s a pale reflection of everything I love about the characters. Unless they change plans FAST, I hope it doesn’t make it very far so I don’t have to look at how far Kermit’s fallen.