In what was likely the most anticipated show of 2016 for most Disney fans, “The Muppets” quickly turned into one of the most divisive shows on television. Many issues surrounded the show, ranging from the adult themes, to the relationship between Kermit and Piggy. Ultimately the show needed changes, spawning the changing of showrunners halfway through its first season.
The new showrunner, Kristen Newman, opened up to the Hollywood Reporter about some the changes she has in mind for the series moving forward. Below I’ve pulled a handful of takeaways from the interview.
1. Newman is reverting to a rom-com style structure for Kermit and Piggy.
This is a smart move on Newman’s part. One of the things that has bothered many viewers, even the one who enjoy the new structure of the show, is the fact that Kermit and Piggy are hostile to each other on many occasions. More than anything it was off putting on both sides, making it difficult to enjoy either character. At times, Kermit was intentionally spiteful towards Piggy, an unusual character trait to say the least. At the center of all things Muppets, Kermit and Piggy have provided a heart and love story that has last over forty years. Simply destroying that was a huge misstep for the show that needed to find level footing.
2. She’s bringing back a human antagonist.
Ever since “The Muppet Movie,” Kermit and the gang have functioned well on the big screen when they’ve had a human antagonist. Whether it was Charles Durning’s turn as Doc Hopper, Tim Curry as Long John Silver, or even Chris Cooper’s Tex Richman, the actors put opposite the Muppets have always done a strong jobs at mining the absurdity of the Muppets for strong laughs. While Constantine was well liked, “Muppets Most Wanted” did not have the same feel as other Muppet films. It remains to be seen how Utkarsh Ambudkar (“Pitch Perfect”) will work with the Muppets, but he seems like a fun and solid choice.
3. Newman already helped restructure the Christmas episode, paving the way for a show change.
With Newman’s entrance for the show relatively late in the first half of the season, her changes certainly weren’t sweeping. At the same time, her inclusion late in the game does create an opportunity of hope. By all accounts, the Christmas episode of the show was the strongest of the season, and while she didn’t implement her overhaul yet, it certainly showed her influence. That’s a positive moving forward.
4. Newman’s bringing back some fan favorite characters.
One of the odd things that the new series has done was bring in some odd, and very obscure characters (we’re looking at you, Chip the IT Muppet). However, Newman revealed that one character that will show back up is Gonzo’s love interest Camilla. While the relationship has always been a little weird, it is one of the aspects that many fans of the films have enjoyed. The same for the wacky character Lew Zealand, who will apparently be around in some fashion. Newman also hints that old Muppets will make cameo appearances, and frankly that’s okay. With such a huge library of characters, it’ll be fun to see characters coming and going, even if limited to the background.
Overall, it looks like Newman is steering the show in a new direction, and it sounds like it is more in tune with what people want from a Muppet show. It will have a lot of ill will to fix after the first half of the first season, which is hardly ever a good thing. Still, Disney and executive producer Bill Prady seem to want to right the ship and make the property work again. With the right changes, the show could really take a turn for the better.
“The Muppets” returns on February 2nd on ABC. It will continue to air on Tuesday nights. What do you think of these changes? Which Muppets would you like to see return? Let us know in the comments below!