You're reading Previously On... a weekly column on pop culture obsessions. You can always find past Previously On... goodness and subscribe to new ones on Bulletin and you can keep up with me on FB, IG, and Twitter.
It’s been a trying season for us Miss Piggy fans. The not-so-secret weapon of The Muppets franchise, Miss Piggy, has been woefully under-utilized for years and we, the Pig Hive, are starving. I thought we might be served some good Piggy portions in the latest offering Muppets Haunted Mansion, but I regret to inform you that the star (yes, the STAR) of House Henson is only afforded two paltry scenes. Pork futures aren’t looking good.
Hollywood, of course, has a long history of paying dust to stars with hard-to-categorize talents or unconventional looks. And it doesn’t get more unconventional than a puppet pig in a blonde wig. But for nearly 50 years, the character and the talented Muppeteers who brought her to life have found inventive ways to keep her funny, arch, and, if not relevant, at least relatable.
This is no easy task. Piggy’s counterpoint, Kermit the Frog, is the centerpiece of The Muppet universe, but by design Kermit doesn’t change much. He’s a comedic straight man--he’s there to set up jokes, get flustered, and bring it all home— a crucial and complex feat in its own right, to be sure. There’s a reason couples are still walking down the aisle to “Rainbow Connection” after all these years. But Miss Piggy is built for something different. Miss Piggy would sooner crash your wedding than sing back up for it. Miss Piggy’s wants are so potent they could power one of those weird rocket ships that billionaires take to touch the hem of God or whatever they’re doing up there.
She’s more than a diva, she’s ego itself. Her insatiability opens the door to huge gestures, like her propensity to karate chop or drop into faux-French, but it also gives (larger than) life to a character who is never the same each time you see her. Fozzie Bear has been wearing the same cravat since the Carter administration, meanwhile Miss Piggy seems to have one of Hollywood’s best hair stylists on speed dial to update her sew-in every time the trends shift. The appeal of Miss Piggy’s character may be an easily mockable excess, but at her core she’s aspirational. She knows what she wants, she gets what she wants, and she doesn’t let any frog or bear or weirdo get in her way. She’s who Carrie Bradshaw thinks she is in her most deluded daydreams, hamming it up in custom couture. Honestly, if Miss Piggy had one of those Master Classes on self-actualization or career longevity or really anything, I’d take it. She is an international icon, she is a fashion model, she is a businesspig. She’s everything.
We are due for a Miss Piggaissance. I thought our time had come when it was announced that she’d be guesting on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Can you imagine a more perfect setup than the take-no-prisoners, permanently unimpressed swine bantering with a bunch of queens in the work room or reading them for filth on the runway? This is the energy that the character brought to some of The Muppet Show’s zaniest moments, like her combative duet with Danny Kaye or her feud with Big Bird of all puppets in the Leslie Uggams episode.
As we’ve seen in various Snatch Games, not all queens are born comediennes, which is all the more reason to make bantering with a felt pig a prerequisite for drag stardom. Alas, Miss Piggy wasn’t even in the building, instead showing up on the video monitor to introduce a lackluster Reading Challenge on All Stars 6, reduced to a series of reaction shots.
One does not make Miss Piggy get in a full face, pull on her best armpit-length pink satin evening gloves, and straighten her hair just to have her read an intro off a cue card and giggle at a couple of reads that would have benefited from another round of Hooked on Phonics. We’ve fallen so far from greatness as a society. And by greatness I mean the time that Miss Piggy did a water ballet in The Great Muppet Caper.
Things seemed to be improving on Muppets Now, where the writing wisely centered Miss Piggy and her contentious relationship with literally every star and the idea of fame itself. Check out the shady way she effortlessly, and sensely, ethers her “bestie” Linda Cardellini in Le Chat Room, a recurring Zoom conversation segment.
Fans were living high on the hog in fall of 2020 but the show was axed after one season and since then the magic of the venerable franchise has been mostly hit or miss (piggy).
So, what are we to do? I want to believe that we live in a world where everyone is a Miss Piggy fan, where we vote our consciences and those consciences are guided by our allegiance to her swineness. But I know that reality is far crueler; that some people are “just okay” with Miss Piggy. I can’t imagine going through your day not thinking that the bedrock of The Muppet franchise isn’t one of Hollywood’s most underrated and under-utilized stars, but some people seem to manage! Remarkable.
It’s not too late. As we’ve seen, time and time again, Miss Piggy may go in and out of the spotlight, but she never fades away for good, like a Law & Order franchise or a character in Follies. So, let’s get some meetings set up for this endlessly inventive personality; let’s get some ideas on the board. Let’s see Miss Piggy get the platform that she, and we all, deserve. Here’s some ideas to get the ball rolling.
Miss Piggy Murder, She Wrote
This is a no-brainer. Honestly, it’s a personal project of mine to suggest a Murder, She Wrote spinoff for all of my favorite character actresses who need greet material. Joan Cusack Murder, She Wrote! CCH Pounder Murder, She Wrote! Yuh-Jung Youn Murder, She Wrote! Miss Piggy already memorably played an unwitting part of a crime-adjacent love triangle in The Great Muppet Caper. Imagine the possibilities when she’s hi-yah-ing her way to the truth as lead investigator.
Miss Piggy West Wing
No one delivers dialogue like Miss Piggy. Imagine her curt, sometimes saccharine, sometimes surly line readings in service of page-long monologues about the price of corn or a crucial phrase in the constitution. Also, as someone who roller skated across Central Park at full speed to catch a purse snatcher in The Muppets Take Manhattan, she was made for a “walk and talk”
Miss Piggy Disaster Movie
Why do we not have footage of Miss Piggy walking away from an explosion in slow-motion? WHY? Here’s my pitch: Miss Piggy is the president of the United States but also doubles as the president’s good-for-nothing sister Princess Switch-style, stepping in with a unique skillset that makes her the one thing that stands between us and total annihilation.
Miss Piggy Eleanor Roosevelt Biography
Everybody is asking for it. Well behaved women rarely make hickory (smoked ham).
Miss Piggy and Janet do The Little Foxes
They rotate the roles in rep like Cynthia Nixon and Laura Dern.
Miss Piggy Sex and the City
We’ve seen this before in various iterations but in this concept, Muppets play all the roles (Sam the Eagle as Mr. Big) except Samantha, who is played by Kim Catrall. Who does Miss Piggy play? Well, it seems obvious to say Carrie but really anyone. Magda. Why not? Let’s live.
Miss Piggy The Family Stone
I am already crying.
Miss Piggy Dear Evan Hansen
You thought the Ben Platt discourse was wild! Just wait! You know that she’s going to bring down the house with the Act One closer “Moi Will Be Found.”