A significant element of “The Muppets” Season 1 has been its social consciousness, perhaps best represented by Pepe’s “gender is fluid” comment. But that was an offhand line, and thus far, the show has not really confronted any cultural issues directly with storylines that have unmistakable messages. With “A Tail of Two Piggies,” this approach is now front and center, prompted by Miss Piggy’s red carpet wardrobe malfunction. The exact message of this episode is not exactly clear, but what is clear is its stance against prejudice of any kind, whether based on identity or personal style decisions.
A curly puppet pigtail has no perfect human analogue, which makes it a little tough to figure out the exact reason for the outrage against Piggy. It appears to be a mix of slut shaming and species discrimination. The #UnveilTheTail hashtag points to the #FreeTheNipple movement as its closest inspiration, which is surprisingly fraught and mature for the Muppets, even this iteration. As much as this is a more adult version, it presumably also wants to attract the family audience that other current ABC sitcoms are targeting. Grappling with knotty issues does not necessarily preclude younger viewers, but it does make their viewership a bit more complicated.
It is fair to surmise, though, that most kids will not make the connection between Piggy’s tail and a human areola. (And if they do, there is a decent chance they are wise beyond their years.) On the surface, this can work as a goofy story in which some funny-looking body part is randomly chosen to have cootie-esque qualities. This perspective makes the point of this episode more ridiculous, and therefore stronger. Miss Piggy’s tail is part of her body, and also she is a puppet. Exposure of a piece of a felt, twisted though it may be, clearly will hardly blind anyone. Also, it will scandalize only those who choose to be scandalized. Some might claim that the same argument does not apply so easily to human skin, but the Muppets make it clear how they feel, and there is power in conviction.
However you cut it, the satire is unmistakable. The sign of solidarity among Miss Piggy’s cast and crew is like the backward version of women who Photoshop pictures of male nipples over their own on Instagram. Plus, there is Sam the Eagle leading the classic Muppet brigade of the hordes of the easily offended, here represented by the “One Million Angry Parents Association.” The sponsors acting as the Gatekeepers of Decency (Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Big Diapers) are expectedly, and effectively, exaggerated targets.