An Oral History of the Muppets

Kermit the Frog and Jim Henson on set of "The Muppet Movie" in 1979. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.)

Studio 360, the public-radio show and Slate podcast, shares an oral history of the Muppets. In the early years, before Sesame Street and The Muppet Show made them famous with kids, creator Jim Henson struggled to find the right setting for his personality-packed foam-and-felt creations; their origins were in violent, adult-themed shorts, including a brief stint on Saturday Night Live.

Love the Muppets? Read an interview with the man behind Big Bird, or a story on the man who tried to keep the Muppets going after Jim Henson’s death.

Herships: Seitz says the Muppets remind us of ourselves.
Take the relationship at the show’s heart, between Kermit and Miss Piggy.

Seitz: It’s a really dysfunctional relationship. For starters, Miss Piggy, let’s be honest, here—Miss Piggy is a handful. There’s just no denying that Miss Piggy is about as high-maintenance as it gets. And also Miss Piggy is a pathological narcissist. She really is. Like, if I was going to diagnose her, that’s probably where I would start.

Herships: So what’s coming in to mind right now is, wow, they need to go to counseling. Like, marriage counseling.

Seitz: If Kermit were my friend, I would actually set some limits. I’d have to say, look Kermit, I love you man, but either you have to break up with Miss Piggy, or you need to never talk to me about your problems again. Those are your two choices. I can’t have any of this grey-scale anymore ’cause it’s killing me. But if they were actual people that you knew, it would be a nightmare. An absolute nightmare. You wouldn’t know which one of them to block first on your phone.

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