Last night (September 20) the Muppets returned to prime-time with a brand new documentary-style sitcom, with edgier jokes and cynical behind-the-scenes drama. But of course, what everybody's been talking about lately is how the show would handle Piggy and Kermit's recent breakup, most notably in the form of Kermit's new girlfriend, Denise. And of course, the Internet is not happy about her:
Ever since news of Kermit's new love interest was released last month, people have been calling her everything from a homewrecker to Piggy's younger, thinner replacement, and that's just not fair. Heck, we didn't even meet the poor girl for real until yesterday! Here's why we need to give this new pig a shot.
First of all, she seems perfectly nice -- and she's a smart, capable working woman in the entertainment industry, too.
When we first meet Denise in the pilot episode, she's entering the writers' room and trying to crack some jokes of her own. (They're not great, admittedly, but neither are Fozzie's and he does just fine.) Kermit later tells us that Denise is the head of marketing at the network, which is refreshing given that the other Muppets are, for the most part, total show business weirdos.
Speaking of which, Denise is pretty savvy about what's going on in the biz -- even more so than Kermit, it seems. When he is baffled that Piggy won't have a particular guest on her late night talk show, Denise thinks she knows why the two have beef. It turns out to not be the real reason why Piggy is so upset, but it strikes me as odd that Kermit wouldn't have any clue, given that he's the show's executive producer and should be up to date on this kind of thing.
"The Muppets," surprisingly, is kind of a boy's club.
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Quick, name another female muppet who isn't Miss Piggy off the top of your head. Skeeter? She's an invention of "Muppet Babies" and has never existed in live-action form. Janice? She's great, sure, but she mostly exists in the background as the guitarist for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem (although she has one of the best jokes in the pilot, which is rad). Camilla? She's a chicken. Yolanda Rat? Let's be real, did you even know her name before I just said it?
Meanwhile, there are literally ten times as many male characters in the world of "The Muppets" -- Kermit, Fozzie, Rowlf, Gonzo, Sam the Eagle, Rizzo, Pepe, Bobo the Bear, the Swedish Chef, Statler and Waldorf, Marvin Suggs... the list goes on and on. So why not bring in some new female characters to even things out a little bit more?
Plus, Denise is actually played by a female puppeteer.
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There's no doubt that Piggy is an important feminist icon, but at the same time she's always been played by a man -- first Frank Oz, and currently Eric Jacobson. In fact, most of the "Muppet" cast behind-the-scenes, and especially most of the lead characters, are performed by men. Denise, on the other hand, is played by Julianne Buescher (above), a "Muppets" regular who's been around since Henson's "Dinosaurs" sitcom in the '90s.
Piggy and Kermit's relationship was never that ideal, exactly.
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I deeply, deeply love Piggy and Kermit's shared history as a couple and all of their time together across the "Muppets" franchise. But let's face it -- both of them tend to exhibit some pretty toxic relationship tendencies at times. Kermit is often withholding and rarely ever has a good thing to say about Piggy. Meanwhile, Piggy can be selfish, overbearing, and downright violent to him at times. They could stand to have a break from each other to figure themselves out and be happy with other people, even if it's only temporary (and of course it's going to be temporary. This is Piggy and Kermit we're talking about here!).
Finally, it's not Denise's fault.
Poor Denise is just felt and fabric and lovely red hair -- it's not her fault the writers of "The Muppets" have put her in this situation. Blame them, not her. So far, she's pretty great otherwise!
And hey, now Piggy gets to play the field.
Don't act like you haven't loved every single one of those advertisements and Instagram photos where Piggy's flirting with a new young hottie. Who could complain about that?
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