Scooter is slut-shaming Chelsea Handler, and is Becky cheating [at trivia] on Fozzie? Romantic relationships are all over the place in this week’s episode.
Let’s bitch it out…
I missed you folks last week! While cinephilactic did a wonderful job in my absence, I can’t believe I didn’t get to talk about an episode where Kermit finally sings Rainbow Connection! Eat that, cynics — that episode was charming as hell. But I’m back from the UK with brutal jet lag and deep commitment to The Muppets, so let’s do this thing.
This is the most relationship-focused episode yet, riffing on romance (Scooter and guest star Chelsea Handler are just starting out, while Becky and Fozzie are taking things to the next level) and friendship (Rizzo and Pépé help Scooter navigate these new waters, and Kermit tries to look out for his old pal Fozzie). Sticking to two plots again makes this possible, and I think that the overall tone and rhythm of the show is figuring itself out. (Just in time for the complete reboot, which — I don’t know. Is it needed? I like the format!)
This is a Miss Piggy-light episode, like the last one, which I’m okay with. The writers still seem to be figuring her out too, for all the reasons we’ve discussed before. Instead, like last week, we’re getting a lot more Scooter. This episode makes it clear, however, that the writers don’t know how to deal with female characters in meaningful ways in general. I’m talking principally about the Chelsea Handler plot line, which is all about slut-shaming, and that annoys me. Yes, Chelsea Handler’s comedy is based on her sexuality. Yes, Scooter is sheltered and weird, and I can see that they wanted to invert the expectation that he would be the one to mess up the date, but by making Chelsea Handler the romantic villain the writers show their cards: felt or flesh, this show ain’t that great at ladies. One important thing that looks to be happening as the series heads into its reboot hiatus is the elevation of Kristin Newman (How I Met Your Mother) from writer to co-showrunner, and I think this could mean really good things for the female characters on the show — she has the chops to write complex, interesting, empathetic women.
It also doesn’t make a lot of sense to have Scooter’s crush destroyed by a good night kiss. As weird as he has been written to be, I didn’t read that as authentic to his character at all — nor did Handler’s obsession with him have the necessary build up. Not cool, writers: you went for the easy joke/way out.
I did, however, really like Fozzie’s innocence being played up and Kermit’s worry about him. This is broadly drawn too, but it feels much more authentic to both characters and it is underscored by real warmth. Jim Henson always said that the characters work because everything they do is underscored by a deep love for each other, and that really comes through this week in a way that hasn’t so far this season.
- The stage business of Scooter not knowing what to do with his hands Is magical, and it carries the asking-out scene. It is also great to see his insecurities land on someone who finds him charming. I wish the whole relationship had followed the rhythm of that scene. (Also his fall is adorable.)
- Love the recurring gag about Fozzie’s belly-hair plugs. (Have you ever seen a old and well-loved teddy bear? I speak from personal experience when I say that Fozzie has to have had some work done.)
- Another recurring gag that works: Kermit thinks he’s talking to people while people think he’s doing an interview. I think this is a sign of what’s to come in the reboot if we’re already getting meta about the format this early on.
- Scooter’s relationship with his mom, tho. You guys.
- I like how we’re learning more about how little Kermit knows about Denise (her credit score of 210 is a great bit of business) while allowing her to stay wiser than him when it comes to dealing with people.
- When Kermit tries to quiz Becky, and all the other muppets join in to answer, it’s really ensemble comedy at its best. Chip and Big Mean Karl are absolute magic in this scene.
- I want to hug Bobo.
- Rizzo: “Scooter, you yell, ‘Whee!’ on the escalator.” Scooter: “Well, excuse me for enjoying the magical flying stairs.”
- Fozzie: “They’ve got great prizes like beer, and [long pause]. Maybe it’s just beer.”
- Chelsea Handler (trying to comfort Scooter): “I don’t even have to clean this stuff up. Some poor schlub from production will do it.” Scooter: “Uh, yeah. That’s me.”
- Rowlf (asking a trivia question about presidents): “Hint: it wasn’t a dog. Canine-Americans still can’t hold public office.”
- Scooter (to Pépé): “Well, I’m not a randy old sea-bug like you.”
Your turn: In light of the coming reboot, am I the only person who likes this show? I don’t understand the hate I’m reading on-line. So while we can definitely chat about episode-specific stuff, I’m really interested to hear your impressions of the show itself so far. Sound off in the comments!
The Muppets airs Tuesday at 8 pm EST on ABC (or Mondays at 8 pm on City in Canada). The show is on a mini-break until December 1, when it’s back with none other than JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT. OMG I can’t even.