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Appalling Errors In Vulture’s Ranked List Of Muppets Movies, Ranked

Kermit the Frog strums a banjo onstage.
Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

New York magazine's Vulture section published a ranked list of Muppets movies last week; as several readers quickly observed, the post, as of this writing, is marred by factual errors, including at least two right in the top paragraph.

Here's that paragraph:

Legendary filmmaker Orson Welles was certainly onto something when he claimed Sesame Street was the greatest thing to happen to television. Created by Jim Henson, the cherished children’s show wasn’t just an educational series—it provided the genesis of many beloved characters from the Muppets, who were developed on Sesame Street before getting their own series, The Muppet Show, in 1976. A few years later, in 1979, The Muppet Movie came to cinemas, launching the movie careers of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and many others.


We are not talking about Deep Muppet Lore stuff for Jim Henson sickos—nobody is getting dinged for not knowing that Gonzo's original name was "Snarl the Cigar Box Frackle," here—but basic top-line facts, the kind of stuff you might rightly expect someone to know (or to double-check!) who'd presume to write a blog about the Muppets for a big national publication. At least one online commentator wondered, given the nature of these errors, whether the article's lede, at least, might have been composed by the infamous error-generating autocomplete scambot ChatGPT.

Here is a list of the article's factual errors, ranked from most to least appalling.

1) Jim Henson did not create Sesame Street!
This is a common misperception, as Sesame Street did lean pretty hard on, and is closely associated with, Henson's puppet characters. Sesame Street was created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, the co-founders of the nonprofit Children's Television Workshop, later renamed the Sesame Workshop. Cooney was a former journalist turned documentary producer and TV writer; Morrisett was an experimental psychologist with a specialty in early education. Sesame Street famously resulted from a conversation the two sparked up at a 1966 dinner party at Cooney's home, over the question of whether television could be used to teach children. They later hired Henson to develop a cast of puppets for their show, which in its early going was at least as much about its human characters as those made of felt.

2) The Muppet Show/Movie Muppets were not developed on Sesame Street!
Kermit the Frog, the most famous Muppet of all, did indeed appear on Sesame Street years before the debut of The Muppet Show and Muppet Movie ... but that was years after he'd already been appearing in shows, such as Sam and Friends, on Washington, D.C.'s WRC-TV network. And while the puppet cast of Sesame Street are indeed considered Muppets, befitting their origin as Jim Henson creations, they are not Muppet Show Muppets; the Muppets movies are not about them. The two shows feature separate puppet casts, with almost no overlap. For example, Kermit is the only one of the major Muppet Show/Movie Muppets who had much of a presence on Sesame Street—which, again, he predated by years—and no significant Sesame Street Muppets had any role in The Muppet Show (and, apart from a tiny Big Bird cameo, no notable Sesame Street Muppets appear in the original Muppet Movie). They're best thought of as two wholly distinct acting troupes.

The funny thing about both of these errors is that they are totally unforced. As Kermit and the Muppet Movie gang did not originate on Sesame Street and in most cases never so much as appeared on that show prior to the debut of the Muppet Show, the article needn't have mentioned Sesame Street at all, much less incorrectly, to say nothing of doing it a bunch of times right at the beginning. This is like making a ranked list of Star Wars movies and starting it out by stating that Han Solo first appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

3) The Great Muppet Caper is not the fourth-best Muppets movie!
It is in fact the second-best Muppets movie.

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