May 2014
Josie Bungert

Misplacement of “The Muppets”

Growing up, I watched my fair share of The Muppet Show, and that was fine, because I was a young kid. The show had a decent storyline, and was entertaining because it wasn’t a cartoon and yet wasn’t all real-live people.  Sesame Street also had the same appeal for me as a kid, with the array of puppets as the main characters mixed with real-live actors. Both great kids shows.

Why, then, do producers and directors feel the need to include The Muppets outside of their own product line? For example, they are often on random award shows, or in Christmas specials, like Michael Buble’s and Lady Gaga’s:

Heck, they even did a WWE Raw episode:

The Muppets did come out in the ’70s, so I get that many of the adults watching these Christmas specials are taken back to their childhood when the familiar puppets appear. They lighten the mood, and I’m sure there’s some psychological explanation deeper than I can describe as to why we find them funny and entertaining even years past our pre-pubescent ones.

But I find it weird, somewhat creepy, and out of place, to have puppets as apart of shows and entertainment specials that aren’t geared towards kids. Though kids may be tuning in, there aren’t many, since I’m guessing that are watching Lady Gaga and Michael Buble’s few hour-long holiday specials.

I also find the placement for The Muppets unusual because, a lot of times, these events are classy, often charity-geared evenings. Women arrive in floor length gowns, men in tuxedos, often times celebrities are included in the festivities. And at events where this isn’t this isn’t the case, like WWE Raw, they are still out of place with the audience in attendance.

I get that some would argue that The Muppets often air on the side of adulthood, as their controllers make them say lines that only adults would understand, and participate in banter that only makes sense to watching adults. And maybe including these puppets into events and television shows works for people; Muppets fans love them even more, and fans of the shows they appear on maybe lean towards liking them. Maybe people love seeing them in places outside of their own, since it puts them a little more in touch with our world.

Maybe I’m a Debbie Downer, who doesn’t respond to childish antics. Or maybe my discomfort by them appearing in the seemingly wrong places traces back to me simply being terrified by mascots. Am I completely heartless? Am I missing the point of seeing these puppets in adult places?

Tweet at me, @jlbungert with your thoughts!