I would watch The Muppets in a remake of Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. Seeing that felt crew makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, so my general opinion of them is perhaps a little skewed. When ABC announced an “Office-like” take on the most famous puppets of the world, however, I was incredibly hesitant. The Muppets don’t need a device in order to work. Cut to me cautiously laughing my butt off during the premiere of ABC’s The Muppets, but wouldn’t everyone just prefer to have a revival of The Muppet Show?
Yes, like The Office and Parks & Recreation, The Muppets is a behind-the-scenes look at the production team behind Up Late with Miss Piggy (why is this not an actual show, by the way?), apparently the only late night show featuring a female host. Kermit is the producer for the show, and he and Piggy have been able to keep a professional (albeit strained) relationship since their very public breakup. She makes him do ridiculous tasks in preparation for the show (“I don’t like the janitors going through my garbage. Can you put a layer of regular trash over my trash?”), but he is confident as the captain of this ship.
The rest of the crew doesn’t get much airtime. Fozzie has an amusing B-story with his girlfriend (played by Riki Lindhome) as he struggles to get her parents to like him. At dinner, her parents make a comment about bears catching salmon in the river but Fozzie assures them that he simply buys his at CostCo. Scooter gets a little time as he struggles with Elizabeth Banks on the set of Piggy’s show, and hopefully other beloved members of the cast will get ample screentime and storylines.
The “main Muppets” have always been Kermit and Piggy, so their relationship is front and center of this premiere. We witness the reason they broke up (permanently?), and Kermit begins dating an Alex Vause-ian marketing member named Denise. Part of it feels kind of wrong—not unlike seeing your dad flirting with another woman right in front of your eyes. It’s only a matter of time before a Cookie-Anika level fight between Miss Piggy and Denise. Some people claim that Piggy is intolerable and selfish. She is, but that’s why we love her. I sure hope that The Muppets don’t spotlight her behavior to an judgmental level.
The humor is more noticeably adult in this iteration, and it will take some fans aback (members of the band bring up AA meetings and Kermit makes a “cross-promotions” reference about his new lady pig). It’s rather amusing and funny without being forced or painful. The footage gimmick is the biggest drawback. It doesn’t need it. The Muppets are better than that. Sure, it adds an element of sitcom legitimacy to it, but this clan was always aware and ahead of the game.
Don’t make them take a step back.