Tuesday, March 08, 2016

I Want 'The Muppets' to Be Renewed

There’s a sizable amount of hate going on for Disney/ABC’s attempt to make The Muppets relevant on TV again.   Thus, it’s understandable why the recently concluded first season of the new show – titled simply as The Muppets – didn’t do well with the ratings and there’s a good chance it won’t be renewed for a new season.

Why the prevalent hate?  Well, many associate The Muppets with wholesome, family-friendly entertainment.  But in The Muppets – probably in an attempt to be fresh – the humor and themes are somewhat edgier – more adult-oriented.  It’s not exactly blatantly racy or crude, but it’s something one won’t comfortably rate as “G”.  And that’s why it’s a turn off for them.

But here’s the thing:  I don’t think The Muppets is primarily meant for children anyway.  I think its intended audience are those who grew up on The Muppets, who are adults now, fully capable of handling more “mature” stuff.  Besides, I think the supposedly inappropriate jokes still have enough subtlety in them to go over the heads of juvenile audiences, and only those with enough maturity in their brains will get their naughtiness.

Moreover, others might be surprised that the old Muppets sketches – both in film and TV – they watched as kids weren’t as “innocent” as they thought they were.  Some of those jokes might be tame by today’s standards, but even then, The Muppets also dabbled with risky jokes that have double meanings.  But since we were kids, we didn’t really get them.

I also don’t buy the argument that by being what it is, the new show alienates younger audiences, and thus, wastes the opportunity to make a new generation of children fall in love with The Muppets.  From what I observed of kids these days, they don’t get the beauty of puppetry anymore.  One time, I let some kids watch the latest Muppets movie, Muppets Most Wanted, but they got bored.  If it had been the 8-year-old me, I would had been spellbound throughout the movie.  Puppets – especially The Muppets – don’t charm children today as much as they did.  Thus, in my opinion, whatever the approach is, it’s unlikely for The Muppets to win a sizable audience from the younger generation.

It’s true that I had probably derived more fun watching the re-runs of The Muppet Show as a kid than watching The Muppets as an adult.  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the latter.  I did.  I found it genuinely funny and clever.  It has heart.  It pushes the right nostalgia buttons.  Besides, the charm of The Muppets is timeless – at least to me and my generation – and I can’t help but be enthralled by these adorable characters as if I’m eight again.

The new format – in which a mockumentary chronicles The Muppets running a talk show (with Kermit as producer and Ms. Piggy as host) – is as surprisingly delightful as The Muppet Show’s variety show format.   It’s an ideal environment for plenty of meta humor, and I think the writers did a good job of utilizing this advantage.  For example, when the backlash and angry petitions happened, the show managed to make a great self-aware gag about that.

Therefore, I’m obviously all for this show’s renewal for a second season.  I acknowledge that season one was unable to reclaim the greatness that The Muppets used to have, but I’ll argue that it has accomplished being one of the most entertaining and unique comedy shows on TV today.  And I want more.

If nothing else, I want to experience another powerful, feel-good Muppet moment, like when they all sang "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" during season one's Christmas episode.

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