It’s not an unknown fact that the Muppets hold a special place in my heart. Probably more than the average twenty-five year old. My entire life, I’ve always been a huge fan of Jim Henson’s creatures- starting with my obsession with Fraggle Rock as a baby. There is photo of me sitting in my mini-rocking chair as a two-year old, starting at the Fraggle VHS playing on on our living room television. The tape that my mother would rewind multiple times day, playing that songs that most likely slowly drove her insane. Maybe that’s where my love of music, corniness and affinity to weirdos stemmed from- the subconscious messaging I was absorbing when my brain was the most pliable.
Not many people know this fact, but my love affair with New York City was started at age four when we rented Muppets Take Manhattan. It painted the illusion that anything can happen in that city- and made me want to live in lockers with Kermit’s friends. It was then I made the declaration I would live in NYC one day- to my amused parents. Little did the know 14 years later I actually would be (sans lockers).
There was even a brief time before puberty that being a puppeter was a potential career path I was exploring. During 5th grade when I was super bored in English class, I would sneak my Jim Henson biography on top my textbook and get lost in the world of 1950s instead of learning about dangling participles. Over the years, that 150-page book was read at least 200 times, if not more.
At home I would go through my sock drawer, collect all of the old loners and make them into my own ‘suppets’ (my sock version of Muppets). The trouble was my fine motor skills are on par with a four-year-old (more on that later). And because my parents thought this was a fleeting dream, I only had Elmer’s glue and googly eyes from my art box. Each time I put the ‘suppet’ on my hand, an eye would pop off, distracting me from creating witty dialogue.
The great thing about the Henson is that his work can be appreciated by every age range. At this age, I appreciate the witty jokes and cultural commentary that went over my head as a child. The skits in the Muppet Shows make much more sense, and the handcrafted art of the actual muppets navigated by skilled Muppeters is beautiful to study.
I often wonder what masterpieces and pop culture moments we missed out due to Henson’s early death. What would the world be like if we weren’t subjected to Muppet’s In Space? Would we have been treated to more classics like The Muppet’s Family Christmas or The Muppets Go to Disney World (both amazing yet underrated specials)? At least thanks to Jason Segal and legions of Muppet fans globally, future generations will be able to experience why it’s not easy being green, and attempt to answer the age old question ‘what exactly is Gonzo”.
So go ahead, next time you’re around a formative mind of a child try to get them to watch an episode of The Muppet Show instead of wasting more time on Minecraft. Not only will the appreciate you for it in the future, but society will.