Is It Time To Bail On The Muppets? We Weigh In

The Muppets made their long-awaited return to television last week, and despite the fact that Jim Henson’s creations are universally beloved, ABC’s The Muppets managed to split audiences and critics as much as any other random TV show. The premiere was seen by just over 9 million viewers, but Episode 2 only brought in 5.8 million viewers, which may be a sign that people are bailing on this franchise. We at CinemaBlend also had polarized opinions about the show, and my coworker Sean and I articulate here why we think The Muppets is, or isn't, worth quitting on.

Sean: My kids wasted no time in letting me know how they felt about the rejuvenated Muppets program. The judgment was swift, and it was harsh. The end credits hadn’t even reached their halfway mark when our oldest, who’s 11, picked up the remote, deleted the pilot episode show off of our DVR… then went the next step and removed all scheduled episodes! You’ve heard of binge watching? This was a purge. In Muppets speak, it’s the equivalent of that massive hook that reaches out from backstage and pulls a bombing Gonzo out of the spotlight. I’m not entirely sure why my boys didn’t appreciate this seemingly more mature Muppets. Actually, I suppose they found the same issue I found with the pilot. It wasn’t funny. Aiming for a Larry Sanders with stuffed felt, the behind-the-scenes spoof of a televised variety show didn’t make us laugh. Chuckle. Crack a smile. I felt like super-serious Sam the Eagle during the exercise. I haven’t outgrown The Muppets. Our entire family loved the 2011 feature film, and even found cause to celebrate the uneven Muppets Most Wanted. That sequel felt like The Great Muppet Caper compared to this new ABC debacle. And now, because my boys dropped the hammer, I’ll never know if the show gets any better.

Nick: As was stated in my review for The Muppets, I was overjoyed to spend more time with these characters, enthused that my age had little to do with it. The Muppets have always been a comical entity tackling the world of showbiz, from The Muppet Show to Muppets Tonight to the 2011 film. The docu-concept of the backstage workings of a late night talk show isn’t groundbreakingly novel, but it’s a scenario that allows these characters to live and breathe as a combined entity again, and though some of the jokes weren’t specifically directed at 5-year-olds to grasp all meanings of, this is the same brand of silly, pun-filled Muppets humor that has been around for well over 40 years. I found the pilot to be delightful enough, even as it made Miss Piggy’s ego uncomfortably large, and the second episode was even tighter. If every TV show was to be judged solely by its pilot episode and nothing else, we probably wouldn’t have classic comedies like Parks and Recreation and Seinfeld (to name a few out of many). I wouldn’t be surprised if The Muppets continued amping things up as the first season goes on, dropping in running gags and callback jokes that enrich the viewing process. But it’ll need viewers paying attention.

So that’s obviously how we feel about it. ABC doesn’t have anything to really worry about just yet even with the steep ratings decline, as the second episode still performed better than that evening's Season 3 premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and everything premiering on Fox that night. But are these dropping numbers a sign that people are bailing on The Muppets? Let us know how you feel in the poll below.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.