The Muppet Show finally hit Disney+ on Friday, which was something of a small miracle for Muppets fans. For the first time in decades, the final two seasons that were never released on DVD are available to watch at any time. While the majority of the episodes are uncut and presented as they originally aired in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Disney did add disclaimers for some episodes that feature uncomfortable and insensitive jokes that have not aged well. One entire episode was also not included due to the guest star's criminal record.
The brief disclaimer runs 12 seconds and is the same one seen in front of Disney movies like Fantasia, Peter Pan, and The Aristocats. The disclaimer notes that the episodes include "negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures." The disclaimer continues, "These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it, and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together."
In the end, Disney directs users to the Disney.com/StoriesMatter website. "Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe," the disclaimer reads. "To learn more about how stories have impacted society, visit: Disney.com/StoriesMatter."
Muppet fans have already cataloged the episodes that feature this disclaimer. Many episodes featuring negative depictions of Native Americans and Middle Eastern peoples in sketches have the disclaimer before the episode begins. The Season 5 episode featuring Johnny Cash includes depictions of the Confederate flag during many of his performances. The reason for the disclaimer in front of some episodes was more puzzling though. Alan Arkin's episode features "Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah," the famous song from Disney's controversial Song of the South, but there are no other obvious insensitive jokes in the show.
The Muppets fan site ToughPigs noted that almost every episode is unedited, but there have been some songs missing. Some episodes are also missing the "U.K. spot," a segment that would air only in the U.K. The Season 5 episode with Brooke Shields is missing completely due to music rights issues. British writer-actor Chris Langham's Season 5 episode is also missing, likely due to the child pornography charges he faced in 2007. He was convicted on 15 charges, spent six months in prison, and was banned from working with children for 10 years.
Disney now owns the Muppets outright, but the company still has not posted everything featuring Kermit and friends. The '90s series Muppets Tonight is still missing. The movies The Muppets Take Manhattan, Muppets From Space, and Kermit's Swamp Years are also missing since they are controlled by Sony Pictures.