• ABC Plans “More Adult” Muppet Show

    by  • May 13, 2015 • Broadcast Decency, Television • 9 Comments

    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.

     

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    About

    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    9 Responses to ABC Plans “More Adult” Muppet Show

    1. Robert
      May 14, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Eh. As a media observer, I think you (and other sources) are overreacting to that claim. The Muppets Movies didn’t show any objectionable content as far as I could tell, and I agree with your one link that the “adult” claim is nothing more than something taken out of context, as it said “for kids of all ages” so that’s taken out of context. The “Shrek” films, for example, explored adult themes while still largely being a film for families. If they wanted to make an series for a predominately mature audience, it would be sanctioned at a later time a la “Ren and Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon” and not behind the family-friendly “Fresh off the Boat.”

      • Toni
        May 22, 2015 at 2:54 pm

        I would beg to differ with you about the Shrek films. I went to see the first one (as an adult) excited to see a fun kid’s film like the ones I had grown up watching and left absolutely incensed that such an adult movie would be targeted at children. Seriously. I was so angry I could hardly see straight. It was so full of sexual innuendo that I was totally appalled and to this day it is not a film I would suggest for kids…ever. And I never watched any of the sequels. In my opinion, any time anyone has to resort to something sexual or inappropriate in order to be funny simply shows their lack of creativity. It’s so sad.

        I really hope they keep to the truly family friendly nature of the original show and not put in garbage because they think the “adults will catch it but not the kids” because that is becoming less and less common. Kids catch a lot more than we give them credit for.

        • Dave
          September 22, 2015 at 2:18 pm

          Wow…how interesting. I am struggling with trying to imagine two people, you and I, watching the same movie and having such an unequivocally opposite reaction. My wife and I watched it with our kids, and at no time did we feel absolutely incensed. It was one of those movies where we all left on a high…laughing and joking about our favorite scenes. The shared experience was so positive, in fact, that watching it became something of an annual tradition in our family.

          To each their own, I guess.

    2. Ann Macdonald
      May 15, 2015 at 7:40 am

      Most good parents don’t want the Muppets to be for ‘children of all ages’. We want them to be for real children—who do not need to be thrust into the adult world of adult situations before they grow up. You are right about the Muppets before and after Jim Henson. His Muppets performed for our children—not for their parents. ABC should be ashamed to try to add this wonderful children’s show to their sleazy lineup.

    3. Dave Wollenberg
      May 15, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Jim Henson’s rolling in his grave.

    4. Don
      May 16, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      I thought the Muppets always was a show that appealed to adults as well as children. My wife and I enjoyed every segment. Of course, I had my favorites, such as The Swedish Chef and Statler and Waldorf and Sweetums.

    5. Shinji
      May 16, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      The Muppets were always aimed at a family audience and contained some jokes only adults would understand. (Anyone else remember that NYPD Blue parody from Muppets Tonight?) I think this show will still be family-friendly, as the Muppets are owned by Disney and Disney wouldn’t let their children’s brand, which just had two movies come out aimed at children, be corrupted.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        May 18, 2015 at 9:18 am

        We hope you’re right, Shinji. But Disney also owns ABC, which airs Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and American Crime (as well as the upcoming serial killer show Wicked City)…as well as the so-called ABC “Family” network, which showed The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and other programs with plenty of not terribly family-friendly content.

        Still, we can hope.

    6. rev.david
      May 22, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      it will be on during abc’s family hour on tuesday
      now on mondays the disney network has a new slutty bachelorette who will have sex with a male invader into the turf during the second week, then running off naked while the house of bachelors gasp and make jokes for her at a comedy standup take off how they do not wear condoms.
      then the comedy channel’s x rated Amy shimmer will give her advice about sleeping with as much D…as possible.

      stay tuned , walt disney and jim henson

      any kind of spiritual guidance may help our sad kids’ generation but the parents are so busy with their agendas. help?

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