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What's Up with John Oliver's Sick Obsession with 'The Muppets'?

By Dustin Rowles | Late Night TV | November 23, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Late Night TV | November 23, 2015 |

Last night, during his segment on pennies, John Oliver compared their worthlessness to The Muppets television show, saying, “How is this still on? And how did someone somewhere think, ‘You know what the problem with The Muppets is? Kermit doesn’t fuck enough pigs. Let’s have him fuck a different pig.’”

My first thought after hearing Oliver goes off on The Muppets TV show is that even the most ardent defenders have to be wavering.

My second thought was, “What’s Oliver’s deal with The Muppets,” because last night wasn’t the first time he’s made The Muppets collateral damage in a issues-based rant. This obsession goes way back.

It seemed to begin last June, when Oliver did a segment on deplorable LGBT rights around the world (and specifically in Uganda), noting that Scott Lively — who was running for Governor of Massachusetts at the time — had tried to take the rainbow back from the LGBT community by promoting a song that suggested that rainbows belonged to God, not homosexuals.

“I feel like, if Kermit ever heard that song,” Oliver said, “he would immediately insist on one fewer songs about rainbows.”

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He made another reference to Kermit a few months later, saying that state lotteries are the “second best use of magic markers on ping pong balls after Kermit the Frogs eyes.”

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His next The Muppets reference came last summer in his segment on mandatory minimums, recalling the anti-drug hysteria of the 1980s when even The Muppet Babies were in Just Say No campaigns. He referenced on in particular involving baby Kermit and Piggy, saying that it had a “very clear message to kids. If you use drugs, all your favorite cartoon characters will show up and talk to you. Is that what you want?”

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He followed that up by going The Muppets adjacent and, in that same segment, having Sesame Street puppets come out and sing about the problems with the prison system.

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John Oliver’s obsession with The Muppets hits its peak, however, two months ago in his segment on public defenders, when he noted that “If I only had seven minutes to prepare this show, I definitely would not be talking about public defenders right now; I’d be desperately trying to fill time by listing the Muppets in order of fuckability.”

Then he went ahead and listed those Muppets in order of fuckability: “Obviously, you go Fozzie first; most attractive thing is a sense of humor. Then you got to go Rowlf, you’ve got to go Rowlf. Then, you know what? I’m going Swedish Chef. And I’m finishing up with Sam the Eagle, ‘cause you know, he’s into some freaky business. Freaky.”


Interestingly, this obsession also goes all the way back to The Daily Show, when Oliver and Cenac suggested ways to make Sesame Street more palatable to conservative audiences, while dressed as Muppets.

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“If people are gunning for Big Bird, it’s time for Big Bird to gun back.”

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Oliver is clearly smitten with the Muppets and Sesame Street, and in spite of Oliver’s sometimes harsh words for The Muppet TV Show and his sexual interest in the them, he’s also had Cookie Monster on to discuss great ideas for cookies.

John Oliver: The Muppets biggest fan, and most vocal critic.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.