Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

YouTube's Defunctland chronicles the creation and evolution of The Muppet Show

Few pop culture success stories have been analyzed as thoroughly as that of Jim Henson and The Muppet Show, tracking a long, frequently unbelievable path from early stage shows, to talk show favorites, to mainstream success. (With a brief stop for “Why in god’s name is this part of Saturday Night Live?” along the way.) YouTube historians Defunctland have spent the last few months tracking the course of Henson’s career with their DefunctTV miniseries, including videos on his early efforts like Sam And Friends and Sesame Street. But now they’re digging into the meat of his most prominent success, with a new episode out this week charting the unlikely rise of both The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie

With a heavy emphasis on the team of young puppeteers Henson drew in around himself—and his relentless drive to push himself forward to the next new thing“The History of The Muppet Show” isn’t necessarily revolutionary in the facts it reveals, or in its analysis of the show’s success. But it is meticulously researched and full of fascinating clips, laying out many of the milestones on the show’s path to greatness, from Fozzie Bear’s original voice, to Miss Piggy’s first karate chop, to the first time Gonzo laid lecherous eyes upon a clutch of hens, allowing us all to look back fondly on the first time we thought, “Oh, wait, is he going to have sex with that chicken? That’s extremely weird.”

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