BritBox TV’s reprisal of the political puppet satire attracted major backlash after unveiling its Thunberg puppet on Tuesday - a typically-absurd looking construct exaggerating the pint-size eco-warrior’s furrowed brow, hectoring finger, and braided pigtails.
The show originally ran for 12 years before being canceled in 1996 and is set to return next month with contemporary characters.
While every puppet gets the production’s signature grotesque-caricature treatment, critics on social media nevertheless tore into the still-unaired new series for its portrayal of Thunberg.
The 17-year-old’s autism makes her off limits, many argued.
A number of commenters condemned the series for “punching down” without specifying what exactly elevated the youthful Swedish scold above comedic criticism.
Others, who’d seen the original Spitting Image, tried to mitigate the outrage, pointing out that not every character who appeared on the show was ruthlessly mocked and worrying about the future of comedy itself.
Several defended the satire, pointing out that Thunberg was a public figure who traveled the world lecturing people on their carbon footprints and thus a valid target.
Ironically, one of those defending Spitting Image was apparently Thunberg herself, who has proven herself able to take a joke much better than her legions of defenders.
The original Spitting Image directed mockery at politicians of all parties as well as celebrities, royals, and anyone else making news, something that many may find difficult to imagine in hyper-partisan 2020. The show was scheduled to return to the airwaves in 2016 after a special broadcast two years prior, but a fight over certain puppets put it on the sidelines temporarily.
The Thunberg likeness’s co-stars are set to include ex-royals Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, PM Boris Johnson, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump, erstwhile Democratic Socialist presidential challenger Bernie Sanders, rapper/sometime presidential challenger Kanye West, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.