The simple fact that puppets are frequently horrifying, and the stories told to children through the medium of puppetry often leave those children scarred for life (shout out to Sid and Marty Krofft, Lidsville, and an entire generation’s therapist bills), has spawned an entire cottage industry of parody that–let’s face it–demonstrates the disturbingly thin line between the real thing and satire. Meet The Feebles didn’t launch Peter Jackson’s career because no one thought to parody our Muppetty homies in ways that made them scary before–everything from Jackson’s breakthrough to Wonder Showzen and Avenue Q works because they feel like the unrestrained id behind those things.
Nowhere is “unrestrained id” + “puppets” more readily on display than in the equally mesmerizing and horrible British web series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, which released its third episode–only nine months after the previous one, besting their previous release gap by nearly two years–on, fittingly, Halloween.
The episode is once more directed by Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared creators Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling, and this time they and their puppet friends take on the task of explaining one of the most elemental aspects of the human condition: Love. They do this through a fine, late-’90s Britpop-influenced song sung by a smushed butterfly–who leads the Yellow Boy through a psychedelic journey that sounds vaguely like a Cornershop B-side.
Things take a dark turn, as one might expect, as we get to the song-within-a-song “story of Michael, the ugliest boy in town,” and then learn who the king of love is–and what he really wants. Ultimately, on a creepiness scale of 0-to-H.R. Pufnstuf, it rates a solid 8, minimum.