First, there was Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. Then, there was Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. But in a terrible season for celebrity breakups, perhaps nothing hits the collective gut of pop culture harder than the split of Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.
"After careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling, we have made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship," Kermit and Piggy, ahem, said in a joint statement posted to Twitter. However, it turns out that the announcement was suspiciously pegged to a forthcoming The Muppets reboot on ABC.
"We will continue to work together on and in all media now known and hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe," the statement read. "However, our personal lives are now distinct and separate, and we will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al. This is our only comment on this private matter… unless we get the right offer. Thank you for understanding."
In a reply to actor Alan Cumming on social media, however, Piggy insisted that the breakup wasn't just a plug. This pig was really through with this frog. "As much as moi loves a good publicity stunt, this is not one!" Piggy wrote. "Let your cute, single friends know, 'kay?"
Holding forth on the intricate dynamics of interspecies relationships, Kermit had more to say at a press conference about how he and Piggy fell apart. "People change," Kermit said at a panel for television critics held by ABC on Tuesday. "So do frogs and pigs … We were together for a long, long time."
Indeed, they were – in fact, since the first episode of The Muppet Show in 1976. There have been at least two attempted weddings – and, last year, Piggy gave an interview to People magazine that implied that vows were exchanged. "They were jitters of joy!" she said. "This day, even more than most, was all about moi! A real shame you can only do this once, at least if you're doing it right."
The wedding, if it happened, was not meant to last, it seems. (Perhaps Kermit was put off by Piggy's burgeoning political consciousness. After all, in June, she received a feminist award from Gloria Steinem.)But a Piggy-Kermit collapse, though painful, may prove the perfect launching point for the new The Muppets series. A sort of meta-take on the nearly 40-year-old cast of puppet characters produced in the style of The Office, the new show will detail, in mock-documentary style, the adventures of Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo et al as they return to prime time.
"The show's about our personal lives, you know?" Kermit pitches to the cast in a preview. "Behind the scenes. At home. Our relationships. Sort of an adult Muppet Show."
Muppet bassist Floyd Pepper: "How about we film the series in that crazy hand-held documentary style and have cutaways to one-on-one interviews?"
Kermit: "That's terrific."
Actress Elizabeth Banks (as herself): "What about famous celebrities? Are you planning to have those on the show, too?"
Kermit: "That's a good suggestion. Do you know anybody?" You get the idea.
In building a more adult-ish – or, at least, ironic – Muppets for 2015, with marijuana references and jokes about Katy Perry, the show's creators said they will try to preserve the fun of the original series, which ran on ABC from 1976 to 1981, without creating a time capsule.
"The goal here is to be exactly the same and completely different," said executive producer Bill Prady (and co-creator of The Big Bang Theory) at the critics' panel. "That is what we're trying to do, to very much honour [the original] … more rigorously than has been done; to stay with it but, at the same time, do something that is contemporary and works on TV now."
"Your kids, anybody who hasn't seen The Muppets in the past, will see a whole new world," executive producer Bob Kushell said, "… and anybody who has grown up with it will have that nostalgia feel but also have their minds blown by the new way we're doing the show."
The leaping-off point of The Muppets hints at the show's sophisticated themes. Kermit — who, as he confirmed on Twitter, is now dating another pig named Denise — must convince Piggy to join the show, despite the fact that she is in the middle of what looks like a high-budget feature film production with the actor Topher Grace, whom she is also dating. Fozzie, meanwhile, struggles to navigate his relationship with a female human, whose parents don't approve.
In the preview, Kermit was unrepentant about his predilection for porcine partners, no matter what it means for the show's bottom line. "What can I say?" he shrugged. "… I'm attracted to pigs."
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