Arthur, the beloved long-running PBS animated children’s series about an anthropomorphic aardvark and his friends and family, recently aired an episode titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” in which the Arthur and the gang’s elementary teacher is getting married. When they show up at the wedding, however, they learn that Mr. Ratburn is actually marrying a man.
The series is known for tackling progressive topics, as well as issues like illnesses and disability, but this episode in particular did not sit well with Alabama Public Television and as a result, the state-run network refused to run the episode. Instead, the episode was preempted by an Arthur rerun. Director of Programming Mike Mckenzie told Alabama.com that there are no plans to air the episode at a later date:
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” Mckenzie said in an email. “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. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”
This apparently is not the first time APT has pulled an episode of Arthur due to depictions of same-sex unions. In 2005, APT refused to air an episode of the Arthur spinoff Postcards from Buster, in which the titular character encounters children who have lesbian parents in an episode set in Vermont — as the state was one of the first to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples.
Yet, given how far the country has come in the past 14 years, people are expressing their outrage with the decision — particularly when you factor in the Alabama’s recent abortion legislation.
First they came for our reproductive rights, then they came for fictional gay rat weddings — Alabama’s not winning any fans this month.