To those who grew up in the 1970s, The Muppet Show was a beloved family-friendly series suitable for the entire family. Now, ABC plans to bring the Muppets back…in what it is calling a “ more adult” format.
According to an exclusive story in Entertainment Weekly, the new series The Muppets will be co-produced by individuals more familiar with raunchy adult humor. Bill Prady is co-creator of Two and a Half Men producer Chuck Lorre’s The Big Bang Theory, while Bob Kushell is best known as writer-producer of Charlie Sheen’s post-Two and a Half Men’s meltdown show on the FX network, Anger Management.
The program’s format will also be different. While the ‘70s Muppet Show was similar to an old-style variety show, with singing, dancing, and comedy sketches inserted between the “backstage” drama with the Muppets themselves, the new series is supposedly modeled after recent “mockumentaries” like 30 Rock, The Office, and Arrested Development, and “will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires” in what the Muppets’ new corporate owners, Disney, describes as “a more adult Muppet show, for kids of all ages.”
Some commentators opine that the “more adult” claim is much ado about nothing, pointing out that even the classic series “explored the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships,” most notably the “romance” between Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.
But there can be no denying that, since the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson and, even more, the purchase of the Muppets by Disney, a certain whimsical quality has been missing from the Muppets. Indeed, as so often seems the case when it is dealing with characters which did not originate with Disney, but which the company has purchased outright – whether Winnie-the-Pooh, characters from Pixar’s movies, or the Muppets – Disney tends to treat such characters as mere money-making “properties.” Such was certainly true of the two movies, The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted, which Disney produced in recent years.
That, added to the fact that the new series’ producers have most of their experience writing more adult-themed humor on more adult shows, may be enough to give parents pause when contemplating the new show.