By Caz Armstrong
The Muppets have been going strong since they first hit screens in 1955 on a local Washington DC show “Sam & Friends”. They have had numerous feature films and TV shows, adapting to stay current and accessible to new audiences.
The latest show “Muppets Now” on Disney+ sees them embracing digital technologies even more with video calls (via a new service adorably called “Rainbow Connector”), vlogging and streaming.
With the release of this new incarnation, it’s the perfect time to delve into the Muppet world. Everyone loves Kermit, Gonzo and Animal but what about the top 5 female Muppets?
Note that this is just about “The Muppets”, not Sesame Street or Fraggles. Don’t start on the difference, that’s huge a can of worms.
Straight in at the top spot is Janice, the lead guitar player in the band Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. She’s a long-haired hippy free spirit who epitomises the 60s flower child. She has appeared in various sketches and films over the years, and plays a range of different instruments.
She has a distinctive slow valley-girl way of speaking. “Like, groovy man”, “for surre” and “trippy!” are frequently uttered without even opening her eyes.
She owns her distinctive fashion style and doesn’t take anything seriously. She is laid back, musical and embodies her full personality with a relaxed self-confidence.
2) Miss Piggy
The best known female Muppet, Miss Piggy is a bold as brass diva. She’s in the number 2 slot for being completely iconic but she’s also a selfish demanding bully. She thinks only of her own beauty, possessions and reputation. She will luxuriate in style while the rest of the Muppets make do with very little.
The only crack in that persona is her love for Kermit. But this creeps into possessiveness and jealously and she treats him terribly. One saving grace is that she frequently gets her comeuppance so the joke is very much on her. She’s no stranger to being humiliated, mocked and generally taken down a peg but she never changes.
With her no-nonsense attitude, fiery character and martial arts skills she is beloved by many. But she’s also abrasive and selfish. At least she knows who she is and sticks with it.
3) The Snowths
These iconic creatures sing the “do dooo de do do” part in the song Mah Na Mah Na. They’re cute and soft with fluffy bodies and little horns. They love to sing even if they can only really do one noise. They have the perfect round mouths for it though.
The Snowths’ gender hasn’t been specified as far as I know but they are female-coded with high voices, big eyelashes and pink fur.
The Snowths first performed on the Ed Sullivan show in 1969 and their version of the song has been repeated and parodied ever since. They have performed song with many different celebrities over the years and always try to bring order to proceedings when the skat vocals go awry.
Gonzo’s chicken girlfriend Camilla has been a part of the crew since 1978. She brings a softer side to Gonzo who would otherwise be solely focused on shooting himself out of cannons or performing idiotic death-defying stunts.
She’s a smart chicken, working in some unspecified executive capacity at Gonzo’s plumbing business. Maybe she’s joint owner. She doesn’t speak English but converses and sings in “chicken”. I don’t know what language she types in.
Loyal, smart, and in a long term stable relationship, Camilla might not be a main character but she’s up there as a pillar of the Muppet community.
Well here’s where we hit a problem. The Muppets are still overwhelmingly male. Of those listed in the Muppet Encyclopaedia, 83% are male. Of the 17% female Muppets most are smaller characters from their history. Anyone remember Wayne and Wanda, Lydia or Hilda? There are of course a few female Muppets around the edges, like Yolanda and Rhonda the rats or Fozzie’s mum Emily but there are very few in the main lineup.
Sesame Street has been making great efforts to diversify their characters, particularly around race and disability. It also has more female performers. This progress on inclusion hasn’t been realised in The Muppets.
The Muppets are beloved all over the world for their love, friendship, loyalty, mayhem, and can-do attitude. They’ve proven to be capable of adapting their offering to changing times and trends, adding new characters frequently. So as Muppets Now progresses I hope they introduce more female Muppets into the upper tier of recurring characters. Maybe we can fill this fifth slot.