America: We’ve got a Muppet problem.
Television viewers across the United States are sure to watch tonight’s highly anticipated debut of “The Muppets,” a show that brings all your favorite Muppet characters — Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Fozzy Bear — back to the television screen.
But this isn’t your mother’s Muppets. Or your grandmother’s Muppets. And, according to some media criticism groups, it shouldn’t be your child’s Muppets, either.
The new version isn’t the kid-friendly version you might expect after seeing the two recent Muppet movies, “The Muppets” and “Muppets Most Wanted” (both rated PG). Rather, this new take, an adult-themed show that’s told in the story of a mockumentary, a la “The Office,” will “scar you,” according to The Daily Beast.
“There will be people who think it’s a hoot to live in this conceit, where the Muppets are grown-up sitcom characters and not as schticky as we’re used to seeing them,” The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon wrote. “And there will be people who will feel like their childhood innocence is being marauded.”
Indeed, the show depicts these childhood characters in less-than family friendly situations. For example, Zoot is an alcoholic, Fozzy Bear uses online hookup apps, and there’s plenty of sexual innuendoes sprinkled throughout, Fallon wrote.
This is why One Million Moms, an organization that often advocates for family friendly television, has started a petition to get the show canceled.
“1MM suspects there are going to be a lot of shocked moms and dads when they discover that the family friendly Muppets of the 1970s are no more,” the petition reads. “It appears that no subject is off-limits.”
The group explained that the show’s more mature themes — like talks about sex, drugs and alcohol — may raise a couple of eyebrows from children, too.
“How many parents want to explain the punchline of sexually charged jokes to young children?” the petition asks. “Many parents unknowingly will let their children watch an episode only to find out its perverted nature too late, unless they are alerted ahead of time.”
Still, not all are against the show. In fact, Time magazine’s Phil Wahba made the point that the new Muppets show, which is being billed as “a network TV show with full frontal nudity,” wasn’t made with a young audience in mind. In fact, adults may be the targeted audience.
“While it is true that there is a more adult feel to the show, if the promos are any indication, it could well be that ABC is in fact not aiming at children, but at Gen-Xers and baby boomers who grew up loving the Muppets and want to relive a bit of their childhood in an updated manner once a week,” Wahba wrote.
Fallon said the new Muppets show may also be an attempt by producers to resonate with an older audience to refresh the characters.
The show also touches on issues that adults, not children, would find interesting and appealing, like critiques on modern media shown through its mockumentary style of filming.
“Not your grandmother’s Muppets? I actually think my grandmother would find this series quite amusing,” Fallon wrote.
But even if the show works for adults, children, who have been known to benefit from Muppets and puppet characters, according to recent research, might not learn much from the new show, according to One Million Moms, and that may hurt the Muppet brand.
“Parents will have to explain to confused children that the program they once were allowed to watch is no longer a nice show," the One Millions Moms website said.
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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.