We’ve come full circle. If 30 Rock was a live-action Muppet Show, then The Muppets is the Muppet version of 30 Rock, with a dash of Modern Family. The ABC series-within-a-series, which premieres tonight, takes viewers behind the scenes of Up Late with Miss Piggy, a fictional late-night talk show (because apparently that’s the only way a woman will get that job). It’s presented much like The Office, with characters speaking directly to the documentary crew and, by proxy, us. Kermit is the executive producer, Fozzie’s the sidekick, and of course, Miss Piggy’s the star.
Kenneth Parcell is so happy right now.
Giving the Muppets another regular series is a risk for ABC — the ’90s revival Muppets Tonight wasn’t very successful, despite Prince — but it should work because people (read: me) love the Muppets, and it’s always fun seeing Gonzo, Rizzo, and the rest of the gang interact with humans playing themselves. (This show will have a lot of that; Elizabeth Banks, Topher Grace, Josh Groban, and Jay Leno all appear in the first three episodes.) With the series taking a documentary approach and the Muppets’ private lives already being treated as news, we decided to rank 10 prominent Muppets by how well they’d do in the real world.
10. Kermit the Frog
Kermit always seems like he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In The Muppets, he’s going through a full-on midlife crisis, ditching Miss Piggy for some hot new “close friend.” Does he sleep in a racing car? Not yet. They’re saving that for sweeps.
9. Fozzie Bear
Fozzie is that guy you sat next to in high-school homeroom who invites you to his standup show on Facebook. You think about going, because he was a nice enough kid, but you just know you’d end up feeling bad for him. He’s not unfunny, but he’s also not funny — he has a lot of observational jokes about Starbucks, and oh God, did he bring his rubber chicken? He should give up and become a TGI Fridays waiter, but God bless him, he keeps going.
Put Animal into the real world, and he’d be hit by a car and/or OD on heroin in about 45 minutes.
But man, those first 44 minutes would be a blast.
If David Cameron can allegedly put his penis in a dead pig’s mouth, why can’t the Great Gonzo do the same with a chicken? (Do Muppets have penises? I don’t want to Google this.) That would be his cause, his reason to get up every morning. He’d travel the country spreading Chicken Sex Awareness, and how just because he’s a Whatever, why shouldn’t he be able to do the dirty with fowl? Needless to say, the world would consider Gonzo a pervert and creep, rightly so, and his pro-chicken-f*cking stance would be met with resistance. He’d do OK in the real world, but always be the guy (or Whatever) who other people don’t want to stand next to.
If Robbie Coltrane can earn millions as Hagrid, and Bruce Vilanch can write for the Oscars, why not the equally hairy Sweetums? And if things don’t work out his way, because he’s a giant monster without any useful skills and a saggy, oversized carrot as a nose, he can always threaten to rip someone’s legs off. Every office needs a guy like that.
5. Sam Eagle
Sam Eagle would do well for himself every four years. He could either run for president as a Republican, or host a conservative talk-radio show where he can accuse Obama of being an America-hating Muslim. He’s a Ted Nugent song co-written by Donald Trump, someone who has no use for flamboyant types like Alice Cooper, whom he once called a “demented, sick, degenerate, barbaric, naughty, freako.” Sam Eagle is Muppet Limbaugh, and that guy’s worth $400 million.
4. Miss Piggy
Feminist icon Miss Piggy is a star, even if no one else knows it. She has a larger-than-life personality, and the clothing and jewelry to match. Less clear is whether she’s any good. It might not matter, though, because she could bully her way onto a movie set and take over. Within a week, she’d be running the thing and giving herself all the juiciest scenes, hiring a sexy frog assistant in the process. Either that, or she’d write for Jezebel.
You enter a smoky bar during the heart of Saturday night. It’s a hole in the wall where everyone knows your name, and they all have names like Tom and Dick and Harry. They’re drunk on the moon, with bad livers and broken hearts over Jersey girls. There’s a shadowy, fuzzy figure drinking on the piano, playing for small change. Closing time is near, but no one’s going anywhere, not while the pianist is giving an invitation to the blues. What I’m saying is, Rowlf is the eternally cool Tom Waits, tickling the ivory. Quick with a one-liner, quicker with a smoke. He’d be fine.
Rizzo is Pizza Rat, Pizza Rat is Rizzo.
He’s not snobby. He’ll find a way to get by in life, even if it means dumpster-diving, or living in his car, or wearing old clothes, or dragging a slice of pizza across the dirty subway ground, or begging for a job at Chuck E. Cheese. He’s an inspiration to broke people (and rats) everywhere.
1. Statler and Waldorf
Statler and Waldorf were cranky trolls before the term had even been coined. All they do is make fun of the other Muppets — had they been born 70 years later, they’d yell things like “Pwned” and “First.” Honestly, Statler and Waldorf seem like they’ve got things figured out. They have enough money for balcony seats to every show, and Waldorf is even married. They’re grouchy trendsetters, and could survive in any and every generation. Trolling is timeless.