The Muppets will return to TV for the first time in nearly 20 years next Tuesday, in an ABC mockumentary series about the Jim Henson characters' present-day television careers. (Fusion is partly owned by ABC, although no puppets are employed in our offices.)
Most of the media coverage in anticipation of The Muppets has centered on one major plot development: longtime lovers Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy have split. Kermit is now dating Denise, a pretty network marketing executive.
Denise, we should mention, is herself a pig. And as the Muppets franchise has repeatedly reminded us for nearly 40 years now, Kermit has a thing for pigs—and not just for Miss Piggy.
In 1978, The Muppet Show introduced Annie Sue, a singer who looked as much like Barbra Streisand as a pig puppet reasonably could.
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Piggy quickly grows jealous of her cute, youthful costar (who, for her part, innocently looks up to the Muppets grand dame), considering Annie Sue a threat to both her starring role on The Muppet Show and her relationship with Kermit. Then she spots her amphibious beau giving her own personal Eve Harrington a kiss on the cheek.
Piggy, displaying her usual penchant for domestic abuse, fells Kermit with an aerial karate chop.
Violence, of course, is never the answer, but we're sympathetic to Miss Piggy's anger. Where there's smoke, there's fire. And this smoke smells distinctly of bacon.
Watch the scene yourself. The seasoned showrunner and the ingenué who calls him "sir" are alone backstage, his hand lingering on her shoulder: we're not digging this power dynamic. The slow, deliberate kiss doesn't mark a greeting or a goodbye; it comes out of nowhere. There's no infidelity happening here, exactly, but something shady is definitely going down. Maybe you've got reason to be paranoid, Miss Piggy—if only because this isn't an isolated incident.
In a sketch that aired two years earlier, Kermit sings "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" while a bespectacled, bikini-clad pig (who bears a startling resemblance to Frances Conroy's Myrtle Snow from American Horror Story: Coven) gyrates for the camera. Kermit's appreciation for her talents is made abundantly clear.
Lydia's performance ends with a flurry of kisses for Kermit, which Miss Piggy—waiting in the wings—takes about as well as you'd expect.
Fast-forward to the mid-'90s, when Spamela Hamderson, a ditzy character inspired by Baywatch, made her debut on Muppets Tonight. We're not sure of the extent to which she interacted with Kermit, if at all, but… come on. This is a little much. The jarringly voluptuous Spamela puppet would later be recycled as Denise for the pilot of The Muppets.
Revisiting Kermit's romantic history has left us with more questions than answers. What's up with the explicit sexualization of pigs on The Muppets? Why aren't there equally alluring male pigs? And if a frog can date a pig, why can't a frog date a llama? Or a parrot? Or another frog?
At least Gonzo and Camilla the Chicken are still going strong.
Please note: The puppets of No, You Shut Up! are part of the Fusion family, but we have yet to run into them at the water cooler.
Molly Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Fusion's Pop & Culture section. Her interests include movies about movies, TV shows about TV shows, and movies about TV shows, but not so much TV shows about movies.