Although the television and film landscape has made great strides in LGBTQ+ representation over the past several years, it is still sadly very rare that same-sex couples are shown in mainstream children’s cartoons. That is why the latest episode of Arthur is making huge waves among everyone who grew up watching the long-running kid’s show. In the new episode, Mr. Ratburn marries a man, and these tweets about Mr. Ratburn’s gay wedding on Arthur show just how meaningful that moment of representation is for everyone who grew up watching the popular PBS cartoon.
On Monday, Arthur premiered its twenty-second season on PBS — yes, it has been on the air since 1996! — and it kicked off its new season with a very special episode. Entitled "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone," the episode revolved around Arthur, Francine, Buster, and Muffy learning that their perennial third grade teacher Mr. Ratburn was in the midst of planning his own wedding. Although they initially think he is marrying a demanding woman named Patty (voiced by Jane Lynch), they come to find out at the wedding that Patty is Mr. Ratburn’s sister and Mr. Ratburn actually walks down the aisle with a chocolate shop owner named Patrick. The episode is available to watch for free on the PBS Kids website.
The gay wedding scene between Mr. Ratburn and his new husband Patrick inspired tons of Arthur fans, both young and old, to share how the monumental moment of gay representation in a kid’s show made them feel. Some people made jokes, others drew some cute fan art of the couple, and others got emotional about how far children’s animation has come — check out the best responses on Twitter below:
Arthur‘s gay wedding scene is a groundbreaking moment of representation in mainstream children’s animation. Network kids’ shows notably never explicitly featured same-sex couple or weddings up until recent years. Some shows, such as Hey Arnold!, heavily hinted at a major character being gay, but it was not until recently that kids’ cartoons would emphatically confirm that a character belonged to the LGBTQ+ community. Now, progressive children’s shows like Steven Universe, Adventure Time, and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power include unambiguous LGBTQ+ representation, and Arthur has joined that list as the first network children’s cartoon to feature a main character’s gay wedding.
And actually, this is not even the first time that the world of Arthur has shown a same-sex couple. A 2005 episode of the spinoff series Postcards from Buster involved Buster meeting several children who had two mothers. The episode was actually pulled from broadcast at the insistence of then-Secretary of Education Margaret Sellings, but it still aired at a handful of local PBS stations and was included on the DVD release of that season of the show.
The other big surprise to come from this news for many people is that Arthur is still putting out new episodes. The show is officially the longest-running children’s cartoon in the United States, and the second longest-running animated show overall after only The Simpsons. It is already confirmed to continue through at least Season 25.
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