Last night’s “Swine Song” was the first new episode of The Muppets after the retooling and shift in focus for the show. As viewers checked in with the gang, there was definitely a sense of curiosity about how the show would handle the changes that ratings and legacy had forced it into. If the episode is any indication, the message has been received loud and clear. What will actually happen with this information is less certain.
The first step to fixing things was with Miss Piggy. During the off season of Up Late With Miss Piggy, she headed to Argentina for a zen retreat, returning with ponchos, a penguin, and a new lease on life. Rizzo and Pepe had a rad time in Amsterdam (flashbacks, please), and Kermit decided to attempt a better work/life balance and give his relationship with Denise a real shot. However, despite all this positivity, they’re all thrown for a loop when network president Lucy Royce (June Diane Raphael) informs the group that a branding guru (Utkash Ambudkar) would be coming in to hip up the show. Pache, which he spells “Pizza” because it’s best to “build your brand on an already established brand,” makes old things relevant, and Up Late With Miss Piggy is struggling with an older audience and a lack of cultural relevancy. He wants to sex things up and add YouTube stars and live tweeting in order to reach out to the desirable younger demographic. However, instead of following Pache and his hipster nonsense, the gang decides to do things their way to shake things up and save the show.
The key to being successfully meta is subtlety, and this whole episode was anything but subtle. Yes, we get it, the Muppets aren’t necessarily “cool” anymore. Yes, struggling to find a way to bridge the gap between the older and younger generations is really difficult. We understand. Still, while it may have been a little hamfisted to verbalize every single issue that people have had with The Muppets, at least there is a genuine attempt to fix them, or at the very least acknowledge them. While it’s impossible to judge the changes after one episode, things seem to be heading in the right direction.