When the 22nd season of Arthur premiered on PBS last week and the world found out that beloved teacher of aardvarks, Mr. Ratburn, is not only gay, but engaged to be wed, people lost their shit. It was a moment of celebration, both because many realized Arthur is still on-air and because a same sex wedding on children’s television is a sign of progress, even for a gay aardvark. (Mr. Ratburn, a rat who teaches third grade, married Patrick, a chocolatier aardvark.) GLAAD chimed in with its congrats.
Now, approximately one week later, some dummies are trying to protect the young children of Alabama from ever seeing Mr. Ratburn’s wedding on public television. (Apparently they are unaware of something called the internet.)
Alabama Public Television (APT) is refusing to air “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” and decided to air a re-run of the children’s cartoon last week instead of the season premiere. The director of programming, Mike McKenzie, told NBC News in a statement that APT is worried children might watch the show without adults to explain the mind-boggling concept of marriage between two men:
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” McKenzie said in a statement. “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 is not the first time APT has freaked out over depictions of gay adults on the small screen; in 2005, APT also pulled an Arthur episode in which Buster visits a girl with two moms.
APT said it has no plans to air Mr. Ratburn’s wedding. All the same, for anyone Alabama who is interested, young or old, the episode is available to watch on PBSkids.org.