Who doesn’t love a glamorous pig, a bear who thinks he’s a standup comedian, a blue guy who hangs out with singing chickens, and a frog that’s actually relatable?
The Muppets were the most obvious of Jim Henson’s properties acquired by Disney in 2004, and while they’ve settled into the Magic Kingdom, not everyone thinks they live in the happiest place on Earth—particularly veteran Muppet voice actor, Frank Oz.
"So far the writers Disney has employed don’t know to write for The Muppets,” Oz recently tweeted. “I imagine their hubris makes them believe they can. But the characters need writing that has depth and honesty. I suppose a version of The Muppets will survive. But they won’t be true."
While this kind of blatant honesty might sound harsh, Oz has voiced his opinion on the Disney-fication of Muppets before, and has every right to as one of the ultimate Muppet authorities. You likely know him as the voice that made Miss Piggy the superstar she always wished to be, but he also originated the voices of Fozzie, Animal, and other furry personas (not to mention Yoda, outside the Muppetverse). Oz was also one of the original artists who worked with Jim Henson to bring The Muppet Show to life in 1976.
Could this be the reason the Disney reboots of Henson’s creatures experienced a slight downturn? The Muppets, which featured the additional star power of Jason Segel and Amy Adams, grossed over $165 million worldwide in 2011, though the 2014 sequel, Muppets Most Wanted, only grossed about half that. And the 2015 TV series on ABC, which gave Miss Piggy her very own talk show, received an overwhelmingly negative response from critics and audiences, and was cancelled after one season.
What does all this mean for the upcoming Muppet reboot on Disney’s streaming app? Oz’s tweet and that TV fail may have lowered expectations for some fans, but who knows, there might be a rainbow connection somewhere.