ABC Uses Scandal Torture to Promote Muppets

Written by PTC | Published September 5, 2015

The Muppets are returning to ABC this fall; and in promoting the new program, the network has been showing ads involving stars and characters from other ABC shows…including some not appropriate for children. One such promo portrays the Muppet Gonzo being threatened by Quinn and Huck, professional torturers prominent on the graphic and adult ABC series Scandal. In the promo, the two menace a bound Gonzo with a power drill, threatening to drill into his head. The Muppet confounds the duo by saying he wants to be drilled in the head, then urges viewers to stay tuned for the torture scene. “It’ll be great!” Gonzo enthuses, causing his would-be tormentors to leave in disgust. The scene is of course a humorous parody; but while nothing in the ad is graphic, the viewer can question what such dark characters, from such a grim, adult, and grittily realistic program, are doing sharing commercial space with a character aimed largely at children. Interacting with human co-stars has been part of the Muppets’ legacy, dating from their earliest days on Sesame Street to the 1970s variety program The Muppet Show. Yet there is a difference. On the earlier programs, the humans who appeared alongside the Muppets were either actors and performers, like Milton Berle or Crystal Gayle; or they were purely fantasy fiction characters totally appropriate for kids, like Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 from Star Wars. It would never have occurred to the makers of the earlier show – including Muppet creator Jim Henson – to feature as guest-stars adult characters like Midnight Cowboy’s Ratso Rizzo, or Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz, on a program aimed at children. Sadly, the Disney-owned ABC network has no such scruples.

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