This week was a pretty good week for fans of the original The Muppet Show, with not only the first three seasons but also Seasons 4 and 5 (the two seasons that have never previously been released on home entertainment) making their debut on Disney+ on Friday, February 19. But viewers noticed something new opening each episode- a warning that the following adventure with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the gang might contain offensive content. At first glance, the move may sound a bit surprising considering how Jim Henson's creations have been known for their promotion of diversity, acceptance, and a deeper appreciation of the cultures around us. But as DH notes, you also have instances like famed country singer Johnny Cash performing in front of a confederate flag as well as some painfully outdated racial and ethnic stereotypes and other instances.
Here's a look at how the disclaimer reads: "This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it, and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together. Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe." Created by Henson and premiering in 1976, The Muppet Show stars Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, the Swedish Chef, and more in a comedy/variety series that deftly blended fantasy and reality (along with some amazing original songs) to offer an impressively unique take on the format. Steve Martin, Elton John, Liza Minnelli, Alice Cooper, Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Gene Kelly, and Mark Hamill are just a few of the famous faces that have taken to the stage over the course of five seasons.
"It's going to be great to welcome back longtime fans, and to give a new generation of fans a chance to see how we got our start, how Miss Piggy became a star and so much more," said Kermit the Frog in a statement when the news was first announced on Tuesday morning. "Today, I'm proud to say: 'It's time to play the music, light the lights and meet the Muppets on Disney Plus tonight!' And as for Statler and Waldorf, the two old guys in the balcony, I can only add: 'Sorry, guys, but….here we go again."