ABC’s new comedy, The Muppets, premiered this week. The show is a mix of nostalgia, bringing to mind The Muppet Show (1976-1981), and a modern day drama. Using a page out of the writer’s room of Modern Family or Parks and Recreation, The Muppets follows the crew of a late night television show, Up Late with Miss Piggy, in a mockumentary.
Just as in all the other Muppet related television shows and films, the Muppet characters are treated just as human as the humans. In the first episode, Fozzie goes to dinner to meet his human girlfriend’s human family. The Muppets come complete with their own set of human emotions and human drama.
Perhaps too human for some viewers. According to the family values group, One Million Moms, and other evangelical leaders, The Muppets “will cover a range of topics from sex to drugs.” You read between the lines correctly. The group, who is advocating that viewers boycott the show, was doing so without actually watching the show. The predictions about what the show would be like were all based on the marketing they have seen, saying on their website, “It appears that no subject is off limits.”
The group goes so far to suggest that the 8PM half-hour family comedy will cover the issue of abortion: they provide no evidence to this claim.
Executive producer Bob Kushell told TVLine.com, “Jokes can work on two levels.” That’s true in the first episode so there’s no denying that. When presented with a drug reference regarding the band, Kushell says, “That’s a joke where the adults in the audience get to put two and two together,” while the kids watching have “no idea” what Kermit is suggesting.
TV producers and writers are tasked with portraying human realities to a human audience. And as the Muppets have done for decades, they help us see who we are in a clearer sense.
The truth is, it’s not easy being human.