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PTC Pans Miss Piggy

Calling it Miss Piggy meets Joe Camel, the Parents Television Council is up in arms over the Muppets' new gig on ABC.

Based on their own content analysis, PTC says kids who watch the show--and Nielsen ratings show that over a million kids 2-11 are watching, PTC says--are exposed to adult-themed content every 3 minutes, 38 seconds, with Miss Piggy and Kermit doing the heavy lifting when it comes to sexual innuendo.

PTC points out that The Muppets producer Bob Kushell recognizes kids will be watching, citing his comment: “We know our audience is going to be families watching, adults watching with their children, so we’re not pitching stories or thinking of stories that are, like Norman Lear stories from the 1970s."

The series is a workplace comedy that arguably has more in common with The Office than the previous network primetime Muppet Show. But the Muppets as a troupe have always had a separate, edgier, sensibility than, say, the toddler-targeted Sesame Street bunch, though there was obviously crossover, notably Kermit.

But PTC suggests the show's references to sex and alcohol belie that characterization. And, "no matter how ‘edgy’ ABC or the show’s producers want to make The Muppets, kids still reasonably believe the show is for them," PTC says. It is warning parents about letting their kids watch, and urging producers to rethink the concept.

That concept is a backstage look at Miss Piggy's talk show. The Disney series--Disney owns ABC--debuted strong out of the gate Sept. 22 as the second-highest rated new show of the season.

Reviewers of that premiere did not seem particularly focused on any disconnect between the humor and the puppet/marionettes delivering it. In fact one talked about their 5-year-old watching it. One reviewer even suggested it was not adult enough.

An ABC spokesperson had no comment.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.