As a felt-covered slice of pop culture, The Muppets will never die. But as a primetime ABC comedy, The Muppets may not be so immortal. Although audiences can expect to see another chunk of episodes following a midseason hiatus, there’s no guarantee just how big that audience will be, as Tuesday night’s Muppets installment hit a series low in ratings. Sheesh.
The “series low” distinction comes in two forms. For one, the show was watched by a total of 3.78 million viewers, which is lower than any of the preceding eight episodes in Season 1. Last week’s episode was the second-lowest, with 3.89 million tuning in, and there has basically only been one episode so far that didn’t see a decline in viewers since the show debuted in September. That’s highly discouraging at best, and cancelation-worthy at worst.
And beyond total viewers, The Muppets was also down in the key 18-49 demographic, for which it received a dismal 1.1 rating, according to TV By the Numbers. This show is basically geared toward people of exactly that age group, so it’s kind of mind=boggling that it’s underperforming in that respect.
Those dwindling numbers are depressing even from a storyline perspective. Tuesday’s episode, “Going, Going, Gonzo,” was a pretty great Gonzo-centric episode that was a great reminder of how comically tragic that character can be. Plus, it featured a superb cameo from Dave Grohl in a drum-off against Animal, and it also delivered a fantastic musical moment between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Miss Piggy, seen below.
How is an episode featuring the always energetic Foo Fighters frontman and the crowdpleasing Gordon-Levitt going to be watched by fewer 18-49-year-olds than episodes with Kristin Chenoweth and Ed Helms?
It’s unclear exactly what the reasoning is behind audiences dropping out on a weekly basis, whether it involves the more adult tone or the concept of running a late night talk show. In any case, it might not be the same Muppets when we see it again next year. Co-creator and showrunner Bob Kushell will be leaving the show due to behind-the-scenes problems involving the development process, and How I Met Your Mother writer and executive producer Kristin Newman will be taking over showrunning duties as the show attempts a creative relaunch. Some of us can’t wait to see what happens.
The Muppets will return to ABC on Tuesday, February 2, 2016. Will you guys be there to watch it?