Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the rest of their Muppets gang are coming under fire by Christian fundamentalists who claim their new program is "perverted," "sinful" and promotes "interspecies relationships." The Muppets premiered last night on ABC.
Christian activist Franklin Graham and the group One Million Moms have declared war on the latest show featuring the famous frog, pig and assorted characters, who have entertained kids of all ages for generations. The twist, as Kermit explained in an online preview, is that "The show's going to be all about our personal lives, behing the scenes, our relationships. Sort of an adult Muppet Show."
"1MM suspects there are going to be a lot of shocked moms and dads when they discover that the family-friendly Muppets of the 1970s are no more. It appears that no subject is off limits," the group wrote in an email blast to supporters. "The new show is aimed at a mature, modern audience and addresses subjects not suitable for family viewing."
Despite its name, the group One Million Moms does not have one million members and is affiliated with the American Family Association, which is classified as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Graham is the son of noted evangelist Billy Graham.
The group cited that promotional video -- featuring a scene in which actor Topher Grace makes out with the famous, flirtacious pig -- and a poster promoting the show with the tagline, "Finally, a network TV show with full frontal nudity." Kermit and many other characters like Fozzie the Bear do not wear pants, because they are hand puppets.
"The mature version of 'The Muppets' will cover a range of topics from sex to drugs," the group continued. "Miss Piggy came out as a pro-choice feminist during an MSNBC interview. The puppet characters loved by kids in the 1970s and 1980s and beyond are now weighing in on abortion and promiscuity."
Graham weighed in on the kooky controversy yesterday in support of the group's boycott. No subject is "off limits," Graham claims, saying the show will promote "topics from sex to drugs to interspecies relationships.”
"It sounds to me like the whole show should be off limits! Hollywood seems to be in a frenzy to see what new moral low they can reach in their programming," Graham wrote on Facebook. "Their agenda is to promote sin to a younger and younger audience. I applaud the group One Million Moms for speaking out against this and urging parents to call on ABC to take it off the air. The Bible says, 'Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.' That goes for Kermit the Frog as well!"
What these Christian critics appear to be ignoring or have forgotten is that in addition to the Muppets's work on Sesame Street beginning in 1969, Jim Henson's creations also appeared on late night television in 1975 with the birth of Saturday Night Live. NBC required Lorne Michaels to include Muppets in his radical, no-holds barred show, to "soften it," as Salon reported.
Henson's daughter, Lisa, who now runs The Jim Henson Company with her siblings, endorsed both the show and its adult themes, in an interview with Variety:
"The fact that the TV show is different in tone is consistent in what we’ve always done … We’ve always played the Muppets different tonally from one production to the next. As long as the characters remain recognizable and as lovable as they always are, the kind of tone of the different pieces fits perfectly."
Fans have clamored for a return of these favorite characters since the original Muppet Show went off the air in 1981. Last night's premiere has been highly anticipated since it was announced.
Watch the video that sent One Million Moms to the fainting couch below.