Let's all suspend our disbelief for the next few minutes and yield to the notion that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy—two expensive puppets made of antron fleece—are sentient, anthropomorphic beings, OK? (Of course it's OK. The media has been reporting on them this way for years, and those of us who grew up with the Muppets have been more than happy to accept this bizarre fantasy as reality like we're all members of some kind of humongous cult.)
So, early in August, ABC released promotional material for the upcoming show The Muppets... SORRY, sorry—suspension of disbelief... So, early in August, Kermit and Miss Piggy issued a statement announcing that they were ending their romantic relationship, which had begun in the late '70s:
After careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling, we have made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship. We will continue to work together on television and in all media now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. However, our personal lives are now distinct and separate, and we will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al. This is our only comment on this private matter ... unless we get the right offer. Thank you for your understanding.
Not only was this reported on as if a long-time human celebrity couple had broken up, but many of the headlines were editorialized to express dismay, too; multiple news and infotainment outlets—NPR, People, Celebuzz, Moviefone, Jewish Business News—declared "love is dead" in bold title font.
And when, this week, we learned that Kermit may be in a new relationship with another Muppet pig named Denise, the articles were even more bleak and angry.
"I'm Sorry, But Who the Fuck Does This Homewrecking Pig Think She Is?" is the title of a Jezebel piece (with the byline Definitely Not Miss Piggy). "How could the veteran Muppet trade in someone as fabulous as Miss Piggy for boring new model Denise?" read the dek of a Guardian article by actual person Megan Carpentier.
And hoooooo boy, do my friends and colleagues have opinions on Miss Piggy, Kermit, the breakup, and Denise!
"The whole Denise situation reminds me of every other 30- or 40-something guy who trades in a dynamic, age-appropriate partner for a younger, less interesting knock-off who won't be as 'difficult,'" Kathleen says.
"Denise needs to correct her anime-looking self and maybe go for a more natural look," Sara Benincasa chimed in. "Also, she's a marketing exec at ABC. What's she doing fucking the talent? You don't do that shit. I mean, if you DO, like, aim higher. Fuck Fozzie. Wait, no, never fuck a comedian. Fuck Beaker. That motherfucker has skills. You can see it in his eyes. He'll eat pussy for days."
"Kermit's a piece of shit and I heard he's a Scientologist," Nora railed.
"Denise is a thot," Courtney contributed.
"Miss Piggy is the original awesomesauce," s.e. said. "I'd argue that she's probably one of the first examples of body positivity and radical fat acceptance on TV. I mean, look at her: she's always dressed like a diva, and she KNOWS she's hot shit."
I'd argue that s.e.'s is an opinion many who curse this breakup (and Denise) likely share, and it's an opinion that has garnered Miss Piggy praise for being a feminist icon in the last few years. She even received the Sackler Center First Award for feminism—an honor previously bestowed upon the likes of Toni Morrison and Sandra Day O'Connor, and presented to her by Gloria Steinem—because, according to Elizabeth Sackler herself, Miss Piggy "embodies overtly all the characteristics that women need to have in order to really succeed. We’re talking about tenacity, strength, intelligence, strategy, a sense of humor… She also believes that who you are is all you need to be and [to] really go for it."
And I get it. Miss Piggy can seem like a body-positive, ambitious, no-holds-barred role model.
But frankly, I don't like her. And frankly-er, I hope the truth behind the breakup is that Kermit dumped her venomous ass.
Here are my three main reasons.
She's a manipulative liar.
Almost every time I watch Muppets Take Manhattan, I cry when the camera pulls back in the church—which is a set in the Broadway show Kermit wrote—and shows throngs of familiar Muppets singing and swaying in the pews. But my delight is quickly canceled when Kermit is taken aback as a real priest joins them onstage.
Miss Piggy tricks Kermit into marrying her! He even hesitates—and why wouldn't he?!—when it's his turn to say "I do," which he does, presumably to stay on script.
She's jealous to the point of stalking and rage.
There's a scene, also in Muppets Take Manhattan, that has been taken out of context and touted as Miss Piggy not taking any shit from catcallers.
However, what you don't see in the clip above, which Buzzfeed put on a listicle of reasons Miss Piggy is the "ultimate feminist icon," is that she's not wielding a potentially deadly object because she's mad about the catcalls (she ignores them), but, in fact, she's mad about Kermit's friendship with human fashion student and waitress Jenny—she's been following them around, spying on them.
Miss Piggy doesn't take out her anger on just inanimate objects. She's been hitting Kermit—hard—for decades.
Is it cartoonish violence? Sure. But if we're going to react to them like they're a real celebrity couple, and especially if we're going to celebrate some of Miss Piggy's personality traits as aspirational, then we can't ignore behavior like this. If her confidence makes her a body-positivity role model, then her violence makes her a physical-abuse cautionary tale.
In addition to these red flags, Miss Piggy is narcissistic, spiteful, not particularly supportive of other women, excessively demanding, and a number of other not-so-admirable descriptors that would be hard to tolerate, in a relationship or not.
Was Kermit a perfect significant other? Of course not. He was known to make the occasional mean-spirited pig joke, and he rarely showed Miss Piggy affection. But none of his flaws justified Miss Piggy's conduct. All things considered, I'm really not sure why anyone would root for their relationship.
I'll leave you with a very diplomatic and well-reasoned quote from my friend Alicia: "I'm not a huge fan of Miss Piggy. I can't relate to her. I don't know much about Denise, but she's got a similar hair color to mine and I often relate to pigs that share my hair color. I always felt that Miss Piggy was really mean to Kermit, and he never seemed too into her. I think they had an unhealthy relationship and they can realize that, move past it, and work together as friends."
Fingers crossed. Fingers that are shoved inside a decorated felt sack crossed.