We all know couples like Kermit and Piggy. They are the stuff of Hollywood legend, but you’ll find them on every street too - couples of fire and water, the glorious diva (non-gender-specific – men are divas too) and the anchoring, quiet, sensible force that helps their fiery, passionate partner achieve their dreams, while standing happily in the background. Think Tom Jones and wife Linda. Think Celine Dion and René. Think Angelina Jolie and…that guy she’s married to.
What do you mean he’s famous too? What could he possibly be famous for?
With Piggy and Kermit, the story is one of the unspeakable force meeting the frog who couldn’t hop fast enough. When they met in the 1970s on The Muppet Show, Piggy was a fresh face in the chorus and Kermit ran the show. It was clear though that Piggy was going places, whether Kermit liked it or not, and her talents as a singer, actress and hard-headed businesswoman saw her rise to the top of the bill and make The Muppet Show an unparalleled success for everyone concerned. Piggy became the star of the show, and when she cast her eye on Kermit, it was all the frog could do to escape without severe bruising. Kermit found himself dragged along by the powerful force of nature that was Piggy, and he went with it, learning to stop worrying and love her as she demanded on pain of…well, pain, chiefly.
Clearly, after the success of The Muppet Show, the pig and the frog were going places, and they were going there together. The movies beckoned with their punishing schedules and demanding routines. To some extent like Charles and Diana, Piggy and Kermit found themselves tied together less and less by the spark of attraction that had first intoxicated them, and more and more by the public appetite for the fairytale romance of a frog who loved a phenomenal international superstar. Despite Piggy’s volatile nature, which demanded unwavering obedience, and which led her from time to time to erupt into stunning displays of violence (the Vengeful Pork Chop became unfortunately famous during the Muppet Show days), the two became inseparable in the public imagination. If Kermit had tried to avoid entanglements with Piggy as unprofessional (not to say personally hazardous) during their Muppet Show days, the schedules of their combined movie career, at first such a source of stress, eventually appeared to make things simpler for the world’s favourite frog, and the couple settled into some sense of Hollywood normality, churning out a series of above-average family movies through the eighties and nineties.
The strain of working and living their lives in such close proximity and under such intense public scrutiny began to tell on them though, and in May 1990, they released a joint statement saying that the fairytale was over, and that they would be formally separating. Piggy cited Kermit, claiming he had never loved her for herself, only for the career boost their spectacular union represented. However, the sudden death of Muppet Svengali Jim Henson, known throughout the Muppet world as The Big Hand, forced a period of reflection on the two most famous Muppets, and they found a way through their troubles, deciding to stayed together.
The movies continue to come at a rate of one every three or four years, but still the pig and the frog weren’t left alone – the meddling influence of the House of Mouse was a constant source of pressure on the couple, and after a creeping barrage of involvement in the Muppet movies lasting almost twenty years, Big Mickey and his goons finally acquired control over the lives of Piggy and Kermit in 2004.
The next Muppet movie, simply titled The Muppets in 2011, some seven years in development, and twelve years since the previous movie, is said to have taken a toll on Piggy’s ever-fragile mental stability, despite opening to significantly better audiences than the last three movies, and establishing the Muppets’ golden couple once more as stars capable of opening a movie – as long as they opened it together. Piggy complained that the Mouse was ‘worse than working for Kubrick; tell Nicole she had it easy!’ and Kermit is alleged to have found himself at a crossroads in his life, with a longing for the simple pleasures of a life outside of the spotlight. The stress of the schedule and the airless publicity machine finally broke the golden Muppets apart, meaning that, with Kermit clocking up his sixth decade and Piggy (ahem) not, by some distance (how stupid do you think we are at WarpedFactor?), the two were free to pursue other options, personally, if not professionally.
The magic of Piggy and Kermit though continued to make money, the public never tiring of their undeniable stage chemistry, irrespective of their private heartbreak. Although the two are very publically no longer together, they were signed for a new TV deal in 2015 under the direction of Big Mickey, and with the new show, the two have come almost full circle, with Piggy out front, hosting Up Late with Miss Piggy, and Kermit, in one of TV’s necessarily most expensive golden handcuff deals, working as her producer. The two now live in an awkward friend zone, Kermit having found new love or something like it with Denise, the young Head of Marketing at the network, and Piggy finding distraction after distraction, not to mention a series of high-profile dates and relationships (Note to Josh Groban: you have to come out of hiding some time).
Ultimately, Piggy and Kermit are a couple for whom love came slowly, but who were cursed by the pressures other people (and, perhaps, Piggy’s flaming temper) put on their relationship. While they are finding ways to normalise their relationship in the Friend Zone, no-one can deny that the two will always have a special connection, the mixture of Piggy’s fiery passion and Kermit’s calming influence still as potent in 2016 as it was in 1976. And while they have the years in their love bank to make a friendship work (and Piggy, for her part, has recently shown her maturity by helping Kermit out in his relationship with Denise), it’s impossible to ignore the possibility, and the hope, that somewhere down the line, these long-time lovers might find their way back to passion once again.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk