Muppets New Showrunner

The Muppets Shake-Up: ABC Comedy Getting New Showrunner, New Focus

The Muppets is undergoing a makeover of Piggy proportions.

Series co-creator Bob Kushell, who has also served as executive producer and showrunner, is out, our sister site Deadline reports, with Kristin Newman (Galavant) in talks to replace him.

What’s more, the second half of the comedy’s freshman season — specifically, the six episodes airing after the show’s midseason hiatus — will reportedly look very different from its first. Per Deadline, the series was rushed to air, leading to a “clash in styles and vision” between Kushell and co-creator/executive producer Bill Prady. The second half of Season 1 is reportedly being considered a “relaunch.”

Following a summer full of fanfare and Kermit/Piggy breakup “news” stories, The Muppets debuted in September to 9 million viewers and a 2.9 demo rating. For the past three episodes, it has averaged 4.4 million and a 1.4. That said, its freshman run thus far has improved ABC’s Tuesday lead-off numbers by 55 percent in total viewers and 73 percent in the demo.

Your thoughts on The Muppets‘ behind-the-scenes changes? Which changes are you hoping to see in 2016? Drop a comment with your thoughts on the state of the ABC comedy below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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79 Comments
  1. Dave says:

    I wonder what this look means? More adult humor? More kids humor? No more documentary style?

  2. Mr. Tran K says:

    The Muppets was destined to be a breakout hit for ABC but why are people still not getting the love and support for Kermit, Miss Piggy and Co.?

    • iHeart says:

      they’re just uncomfortable with the fact that they are in more adult situations, as a muppet fan since toddler-dom, I gave it a shot, and I thought it was okay but a bold move with what they are doing

      • e. says:

        That isn’t the issue at all, its that the jokes are lazy and you know their punchlines as soon as the the setups start. It sounds literally like a bad Chuck Lorre sitcom and frankly there are already two bad ones of those on the air.

        The Muppets are supposed to tell really good jokes that kids kind of get and adults belly laugh through. This isn’t that. This is jokes that adults tolerate out of nostalgia.

        • mimi says:

          This!!!!! A hundred times this!

        • AA says:

          The jokes aren’t lazy at all. Comparing it to a Chuck Lorre sitcom shows how little you know, and proves that you have never watched the likes of The Office or Parks & Rec. The Muppets have been great so far, your perception of what the show “should be” is ill informed at best.

          • with all due respect–your observation doesn’t reflect the sad fact the show has lost half of its viewers since its first episode. You may not agree with the commentator you’re dishing, but there are a lot of viewers who seem to agree with his take on the show.

    • Mike says:

      It is the adult humor! Certain cartoon shows can pull it off, that is not the Muppets. They are a tradition of innocence and fun a call back to childhood. The first revival Movie was a great example of this fun easy to follow story. The current show takes that away with adult humor that is uncomfortable. Instead of trying to fill it with current new humor, they need quality funny innocence and create a new old standard. Why try to be like every other comedy sitcom when you already have a beloved iconic brand?

      • Sarah T says:

        So agree Mike. They’ve almost ruined the brand with this show. Too “adult” for kids and adults alike. We’re watching this for nostalgia, not to find out which muppets are sleeping together and what beer they’re drinking. They’re the MUPPETS! next they’ll be trying to “grow up” Toy Story humor.

      • The Muppets had A LOT of adult humor jokes back in the day. We were all kids way back, so it went over MOST of our heads. Rewatch the show. There Is adult stuff there. They can’t take that part away. It DOES work for the Muppets.

        • SUSO says:

          The adult humor is fine with me — it’s how mean spirited it is that gives me pause. The last episode had Fozzie insulting her girlfriend over and over, and her taking it because she loved him. And Piggy and Reese battling over Habitat for Humanity taught no lessons to Piggy… and she might be self-centered but I don’t for a moment believe that, after she KNOCKED DOWN A HOUSE that was being built for charity, she wouldn’t take pause.

        • NJMark says:

          They had humor for adults, but not what we generally mean by “adult humor.”

        • Krazy Joe says:

          Well said! So many people were complaining about the “adult humor”, and they’re coming across like idiots because the Muppets have always had that humor and these jack wagons are acting like the Muppets are children’s entertainment when that is never what they have been

      • Krazy Joe says:

        The Muppets have never been “innocent”. You clearly don’t know that which you speak of

  3. It didnt look like a Bill Prady production.

  4. I’ve got a handful of episodes on my DVR that I have yet to watch. I love the Muppets, but the show is kind of boring.

    • Tony Lang says:

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Yeah, I broke up with it a couple weeks ago already. For hardcore Muppet fans (if there are any of those), it’s probably watchable, but the writing is just clumsy and pedestrian. Just like Grandfathered and Dr. Ken, a great cast is wasted with generic, cliched writing.

      • Sunfleck says:

        I consider myself a hardcore Muppet fan, and I don’t find it watchable at all. The “affectionate anarchy” created by Henson, Oz, & co. is gone and Kermit just seems miserable. I only watched the first 2 episodes so maybe it got better, but I just found it cringe-worthy. I don’t mind more adult humor, but I would prefer that it be funny and in-character.

  5. Kim says:

    I really hope that it goes back towards its roots of family friendly programming. I was very disappointed at some of the content of the show, which I was looking forward to watching with my kids

    • I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree that the Muppets have become more family-oriented i the past couple of decades, but the “roots” of the Muppets have always been more adult-focused. I found a great article about the beginnings of the Muppets, but can’t link it here.

      • Guy says:

        Yeah, I find it odd how so many people don’t realize this. The original iteration of The Muppet Show always had adult humor that would fly over the heads of kids. With Sesame Street aimed squarely at toddlers, Jim Henson decided to make The Muppet Show which was supposed to appeal to adults and children alike, with plenty of humor just for the adults watching. For goodness sakes, one of the specials that acted as a pilot for the show was titled “Sex and Violence.”

      • AA says:

        Thank you, finally someone who understands that The Muppets have always been more adult oriented.

  6. Dpitty says:

    When I think of the Muppets, I think of great musical numbers! They should start doing those.

  7. Jacques says:

    It isn’t that bad actually, but there is much space for improval. Some jokes fall flat, some are hilarious and the show is very inconsistent when it comes to being funny. So if this change improves the quality, i’m in.

  8. AT says:

    I’ve been disappointed with the show. First, it is too adult for my kids to watch. Second, it doesn’t have the same humor as the movies (including the most recent one, which I thought was entertaining). I can’t explain it but there is just something different about the show and it is pretty boring to watch.

  9. iHeart says:

    Bummer, well hopefully it won’t be something too drastic if anything, if they do go back to their roots as it were then fine, as long as season 2 does happen I won’t complain.

  10. Tina says:

    i dont think anyone said it’s gonna look very different… it’s gonna stay the same format… just the style and types of stories will shift… the co creator bill prady clearly wanted one style and kushnell another… prady has a history with the muppets but is busy on big bang theory so he has only been working there on a part time basis

  11. Paul says:

    First Lose the Documentary Style and the “Office” style off screen dialogue. Second return it to The Muppet Show we all remember and love. A little sexual innuendo isn’t bad but sexing it up as has been done thus far is akin to writing say Criminal Minds as a sitcom.

  12. Et al. says:

    I like the current format but I’m open to a new one too.

  13. e. says:

    I hope to god it helps because its so incredibly hard to watch right now.

  14. TV Gord says:

    My favorite episode so far has been the one where they all went out after work and got drunk. I found lots of laughs in both the jokes and the situations. If the retool makes Piggy less of a focus of the show, I’ll be thrilled. Her voice goes through my head like a nail!

  15. Nic says:

    I love the Muppets but this show is unwatchable.

  16. buttercupscarlett95 says:

    I’m curious what the change will mean. I was excited when I heard the Muppets were coming back. I thought it would be fun to watch with my kids. Then I heard about all the adult humor and decided to pass. Even if I watched on my own without the kids, I just didn’t want to see my childhood sexualized. If the shake up means a return to the classic Muppets, I might consider watching. I hope to hear more details about the change soon.

  17. With almost every joke at Miss Piggy’s expense and her as almost the only female muppet it comes across as very misogynistic.

    • Mark says:

      I like the fact that Miss Piggy is finally put in her place. She can be a diva but it’s nice for her to get knocked down a peg or two. That being said, this past episode had a great Miss Piggy moment at the end. She got a fantastic gift, and yet it basically said to Kermit like I still am kinda into you. My favorite moment of the episode.

  18. pcox says:

    Too much Miss Piggy. It needs to be about a relaunched Muppet Show, that way you don’t have to constantly center around one character for the majority of the she. You can still do the office style behind the scenes but do skits not fake interviews.

    • Moria says:

      Piggy seemed a little different in the most recent show & I really liked her more in it. Don’t know if it was just the particular writer or what. I liked how Kristen Chenowith (sp?) was so supportive of Piggy & her breakup with Kermit, they weren’t enemies like she usually is with other female guests. Plus I loved (spoiler) the genius gift she bought Kermit’s girlfriend while still getting some revenge. She was so smart and loveable for a change.

  19. Whatevah says:

    I’ve been enjoying I hope they don’t make too many changes.

  20. Mark says:

    Although the new show has many things to recommend it, the “new” Miss Piggy is a total bitch and a turn off. We always knew Piggy was a narcissistic diva who mistreated Kermit, but those personality traits were muted in skits like “Pigs in Space”. Now, every episode revolves around Piggy settling a grudge match with some A-list actress who’s the guest of the week. Or, it’s about stroking Piggy’s ego. Her one-dimensional character got boring very quickly.

    Other things, like the Swedish Chef singing “Rapper’s Delight”, have been truly inspired.

    • Quellysimms says:

      Ha! She makes the show! She’s hilarious! And she’s A MUPPET for cryin’ out loud! If she were a real person acting this way, maybe it’d be a turn off. But we are talking about MUPPETS, which, honestly, is why I don’t understand the outrage from the people who dislike the show. These aren’t real people!

  21. Quellysimms says:

    This is so lame! So disappointing. I absolutely LOVE The Muppets! Seriously, I only make it a point to watch a handful of tv shows and this is one of them. It’s hilarious! I crack up every week. I do not want them to tone down the adult humor because THAT’S why it’s funny! It’s not supposed to be a kid show! All these people complaining about how it’s not family friendly is just too much! This show should not be taken that seriously where people are getting all up in arms about it. I mean, seriously. There’s always room for improvements and tweaks when it comes to anything, but I just hope the same type of humor remains intact for the second half of the season. And my god, Miss Piggy is THE BEST. I love her!!

    • rinaex says:

      I tend to agree. I’ve been enjoying the current format precisely because it’s hilarious to see puppets in adult situations. I have a feeling that the “changes” are going to cause an even bigger ratings drop and ensure the shows cancellation.

      • Quellysimms says:

        YES!!! The fact that it’s muppets acting this way is exactly why I find it hilarious!!! All I know is that if the adult humors/snark is abandoned, I won’t be watching. I’m not tuning in to see a toned-down muppets when there’s nothing wrong with the current way they are written. If people want to watch kid-friendly programming with their kids, there’s Disney and Nickelodeon for that.

  22. Me says:

    I hope it’s completley re-tooled. No more shakey cam. No more bitter, angry Muppets. Bring back the heart of these wonderful characters.

  23. lrdslvrhnd says:

    I hope the retooling involves losing the “documentary” aspect. Just go about following the Muppets, but lose the asides to the camera, Kermit driving along and talking to the camera, etc. Just treat it like you would any other scripted show and lose the “reality” aspect. Half the time it seems like they forget about that aspect anyway, so just lose it for the other half as well.

  24. David says:

    Honestly, I had just watched the first episode, and it was rather boring to me… I just didn’t care for the format. I liked it better when it was a “variety” show like it was intended. So I quit watching… I’ll give it one more go with the new format, but I always liked when the stars would come on and sing and perform. I liked the pigs n space skits. Maybe piggys show gets cancelled and they revamp – can’t be any worse..

  25. Enelya says:

    They could just have the Swedish chef doing karaoke every week and I’d watch endlessly

  26. nadialus says:

    I love the show how it is now & I happen to think it’s very funny. Maybe a little less focus on Up Late would be nice but other than that I love it! I think a lot of people are overreacting. ABC isn’t geared towards kids, what did you expect? I grew up with the muppets too and I think the change is good.

    • Quellysimms says:

      SOOOO overreacting. But you know how it goes, people usually want to jump on the bandwagon that’s popular….and right now what’s popular, apparently, is saying how The Muppets are too raunchy. Again, lame.

  27. Katie says:

    The show needs to stop with the guest stars of the week. Where’s Walter? I enjoyed him in the past two movies. He needs to be added to the show.

  28. PC says:

    I just want it to be funny and zany again. And not so boring.

  29. Simon Heywood says:

    Did anyone actually watch this week’s episode? Miss Piggy’s closing line was comedy gold!

  30. milford_ark says:

    The Muppets Show I remember did have a lot of adult humor, so I really do not understand the “what about the children?!” sort-of-hysteria. And while the old Muppet Show did have a lot of guest stars, this incarnation’s reliance on Miss Piggy’s celebrity-feud-of-the-week is cheap,easy and as is usually the case when one goes the easy route, played out and not funny. Less Miss Piggy is enough of a reboot to satisfy me. She is a grating character by design, so less is more in her case.

    • Quellysimms says:

      Uh, Miss Piggy is QUEEN!! Everything should revolve around her! Lol.

    • NJMark says:

      They had jokes that adults were more likely to appreciate, but it was never “adult” as in sexually-oriented. Muppets shouldn’t need a PG rating.

    • Lori M says:

      Keep the adult slant like the muppets have alwsys had -which I’ve alwsys enjoyed, but I draw the line with the insuations that Beaker an Professor Honeydew are homosexual lovers! That’s going too far.

  31. Carrie says:

    I’ve always loved the Muppets and I personally don’t think this show needs an overhaul. I think it’s very clever. Maybe just less focus on Kermit and Piggy’s situation?

  32. The Truth says:

    That’s great news now if only Bill Prady would step down it would make it even better. They both single handily ruin The Muppets by making it to real. We all the The Muppets are muppets so there no need for that. They need to bring back the love to the show and make the characters likable again.

  33. Thom says:

    I wonder if maybe someone was listening to some of the online complaints about them misunderstanding the Muppets chemistry a bit and trying to correct that a bit. For example, that Miss Piggy was overbearing but she loved Kermit and that one good thing balanced out her poor behavior. Or that Kermit looked super creepy with how the breakup happened, etc…

  34. Tony Bullock says:

    Love the Muppet show, just needs to get more involved with the entire cast, and get away from the constant show back drop..

  35. Mark says:

    What am I looking for in the relaunch? Jokes that are actually funny.

  36. acurat says:

    Thought this show would tank originally and so far, has met expectations. Tired concept that is trying to reinvent itself with “adult” humor. If it goes away at the end of season 1 it will not be a shock. It will be a shock if it makes it to season 2.

  37. Fred Learn says:

    Glad to hear the Muppets are getting a makeover, because man, does that show miss the mark. Problem is, the extended promo they shot, before the show went into production, was fantastic. It had a different premise and looked like a very amusing update of the original Muppet Show from the seventies. What they ended up with, however—ugh. We have a situation where Piggy plays a mega-bitch television star, and all her employees hate her/are afraid of her. It’s sucked all the fun out of the Muppets—to watch Kermit constantly cringing and stressing and feeling unhappy is painful.

    • Marissa says:

      Yes! And I feel like they have no idea what to do with Fozzie, they keep putting him into these situations away from the rest of the Muppets, and it’s just failing for me. Plus, I know they’re trying to showcase some of their newer characters from the recent movies, but we need more of the original gang – especially Rowlf and Gonzo!!!

  38. Fred Learn says:

    Glad to hear the Muppets are getting a makeover, because man, does that show miss the mark. Problem is, the extended promo they shot, before the show went into production, was fantastic. It had a different premise and looked like a very amusing update of the original Muppet Show from the seventies. What they ended up with, however—ugh. We have a situation where Piggy plays a horribly unlikeable television star, and all her employees hate her/are afraid of her. It’s sucked all the fun out of the Muppets—to watch Kermit constantly cringing and stressing and feeling unhappy is painful.

  39. NJMark says:

    Above all else, lose the moronic “we’re having a documentary filmed” format. How much footage would a production company really need to film for what, a one-hour special? It was fine for 12 episodes of the British “Office” (and terrible for NINE YEARS of the US “Office”).

    And would cameras really follow Fozzie (or anyone) on dates? Or errands?

  40. Zach says:

    I couldn’t stand the “Office”-esque/documentary feel to it. There was no singing or dancing and I thought it was very dull. I’ll check out the “reboot” but will not be holding my breath.

  41. Tedra Clover says:

    They should have kept Kushell and got rid of Prady. Look at the mess he’s made of his own show. BB used to be a cult classic, its now a piece of garbage.

  42. John says:

    We need to see more of Rowlf the Dog in this TV series. Rowlf is barely in the show and yet is one of the most loved and iconic characters in the Muppet legacy. It is crazy that the writers and producers of the show have overlooked and ignored Rowlf, reducing him to a tiny role working in a bar. Come on guys, give Rowlf more screen time. And why haven’t we seen a single comedy monologue from Fozzie yet? I think the writers of the TV show just do not understand the Muppets at all.

  43. Dave says:

    The muppets are great in the sketch format. Some of fans favorite characters only work well in short skits. the comedy timing in the series is slower than the original series. that can’t be a good thing for 2016 TV. The edgy comedy is fine. But the show doesn’t make me laugh as much as it makes me groan. I watch every episode in hopes that the muppet humor will be added in. I understand that a series is hare to launch and that it takes time for a series to find its voice. especially when a dealing with classic characters. I hated Muppets Tonight for years. now i can watch it and I love it. It;s exciting and fast paced and like the original but new.

  44. Dave says:

    I’d like to add to my previous post…. The way to get people into this show it to add more comedy skits and music. The show is feeling like its in 2 parts. the first part is all the documentary “office” stuff and then the second part has maybe one comedy bit and one song. I would even suggest changing the theme to a more exciting song with words. Muppets singing is everyones favorite thing about the Muppets.

    I also suggest the writers take a long look at the original series and study what actually made that show so funny and these characters last. Sure its getting a bit dated, but there is a format to the Muppet Show that worked well. Doctor Bob. Pigs in Space, Rowlf playing the piano and singing weird old songs and making them funny. A variety show with some behind the scenes stories. This show is basically the same concept as the Original Muppet Show. The difference, the not enough skits and not enough music.

    You could take the idea from the most recent episode of Piggy’s tail popping out and done that on the show with in the show. Move on to the next bit and then insert more story within other skits or during skits of Piggy freaking out about her tail. Or scenes with the network getting upset.

    The problem with this version of The Muppets is not the ideas. It is the way they are being presented is not Funny and NOT Muppet style. I just hope ABC lets them work out the kinks and make this the best Muppet Show sense the original series.

  45. Robert Clavette says:

    Hi if you need a Kermit voice I’m your man. I noticed the 2015 Muppets Kermit was a little dry. Frogs need water.
    And I’m able to break into that voice at will…fun in traffic court. Lol! :)