A beloved 'Arthur' character, Mr. Ratburn, came out and got married on the show's 22nd-season premier, and fans are loving it, except in Alabama.
PBS is still making new Arthur episodes. The show's in its 22nd season and still going strong! That's a surprise in itself. But the biggest surprise came when, during the season's premiere, one of the show's most beloved characters came out as gay. It was a welcomed surprise, to say the least.
And that didn't sit well with Alabama Public Television (APT), which pulled the episode in another stunt exhibiting conservative prejudices following its controversial near-total ban on abortion. In a statement to AL.com, APT declared the following:
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire. More importantly, although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards, parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision.”
A regressive move if there ever was one.
In the episode, Mr. Ratburn not only came out. He got married as well, in a move that's serving to give all the gay children—and adults, of course— a living voice in a children's animated series. This is nothing short of a milestone for the LGBTQ+ community, as topics that were once (wrongly) considered taboo for "family" shows are finally being given the spotlight they deserve, which certainly helps to normalize behaviors that should have been deemed "normal" centuries ago.
The episode is titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.” In it, Arthur & the gang's beloved elementary-school teacher shows up and introduces his fiancé, whom the rest of the characters feared would be a bossy stranger named Patty. But their fears are soon put to rest. Mr. Ratburn's fiancé turns out to be a nice man named Patrick, the owner of a chocolate shop, and Patty is just his sister. As Arthur and the rest see the happy couple walking down the aisle, they can't help but smile tenderly—an emotional moment all around.
Here is the premiere's key scene:
After the episode aired, fans took to Twitter and other social media to give their thoughts. Yeah, other than Alabama, they all seemed to love the revelation.
Hopefully, more family shows will follow suit and finally get the message across: relationships and weddings between two consenting adults are a beautiful and happy thing, no matter the sex/gender, religion, orientation, or political beliefs. There's nothing wrong with same-sex couples marrying, and Arthur is now among the endearing shows highlighting this fact. Good for all of us.
The episode itself is a step in the right direction to emphatically fight discrimination against a community that's still facing social injustice on a daily basis. Hopefully, future generations will finally eradicate this harmful, unjustified prejudice. In the meantime, it's great that young people all over the world who'd otherwise feel alienated by arbitrary social standards can relate to a children's character, and feel empowered in knowing it's alright: they can be who they want to be.
Regardless of Alabama's unfortunate move, we can't but be excited for the future of the show. We can only hope states like Alabama catch up soon enough to what's clearly a harmless improvement in the lives of millions of people worldwide, and show support for a community that's long been kept at the margins through unjustified biases.
(Cover photo: PBS)
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