Jim Henson originally wanted the Muppets to be for adults and didn’t see his characters as a vehicle for children’s education and family entertainment. Indeed, he first envisioned something closer to South Park rather than Sesame Street and in the 1950s they did dark comedy in commercials.

It’s Not Easy Being Evergreen: An Oral History of the Muppets

Brow Beat

Can the Muppets find a future as bright as their past?

Jim Henson started making television programs starring his distinctive googly-eyed creations—part puppet, part marionette—in the 1950s. And they were hits. Early versions of Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear and Cookie Monster made the rounds as guest stars on variety shows.Although fuzzy and feather-covered, Henson very much considered his Muppets as entertainment for adults—borrowing heavily from the song and dance variety shows of early television and Borscht Belt humor.

But when Henson was enlisted to put the characters on Sesame Street, they became known as children’s fare. It was a turn that Henson had some ambivalence about, and for years he struggled to reintrod… Continue Reading (14 minute read)

9 thoughts on “Jim Henson originally wanted the Muppets to be for adults and didn’t see his characters as a vehicle for children’s education and family entertainment. Indeed, he first envisioned something closer to South Park rather than Sesame Street and in the 1950s they did dark comedy in commercials.”

  1. FADITY7559

    Jim Henson and some of his Muppets were on the first season of Saturday Night Live. I remember a talking rock was one of them.

  2. GovernorSan

    I recently watched some of the old Muppet Show episodes and some of the jokes and skits were quite adult in nature. A couple of them took place in a bar and featured people and muppets pretending to drink alcohol. You’d not likely see something like that in kids’ programs today.

  3. Toasted4Bread

    I feel like this would be the only way the muppets would be able to be successful in the modern day

  4. QuickToJudgeYou

    The museum of the moving image in Astoria NY had a great Henson exhibit (not sure if still there) but definitely touched on this earlier darker Muppets.

    Would recommend if it’s still going on.

  5. TrickySnicky

    For sure, just watch pilot #2. It’s subtitled **Sex and Violence**

  6. The_Chubby_Unicorn

    When I was a kid and watched the Muppet Show with my parents, it was actually pretty boring. There were only a few skits or parts that were actually funny for kids to relate to. I loved the band and gonzo, but most of the humor was directed towards parents. It seriously was more like Saturday night live than Sesame Street.

  7. cerpintaxt44

    The Muppets were for everyone it was basically snl. Sesame Street was specifically made for kids.

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