It’s the year 2019, and I would like to think that most people wouldn’t bat an eyelash at two people declaring their love for each other, whatever sexuality they may be.
Sadly, Alabama Public Television (APT) have decided not to show an episode of Arthur which shows a same sex marriage ceremony. The episode – entitled Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone – depicted the wedding of Arthur’s teacher Mr. Ratburn and his partner Patrick.
This was reportedly a sweet episode which saw Arthur and his pals twig that teachers have – gasp! – lives beyond school. (Buster: ‘When they go home, they sharpen pencils, eat kale and dream up homework assignments. They don’t even sleep! They just go into low-power mode and watch documentaries’.)
However, the subject matter of the episode apparantly proved too controversial for APT, who decided to show a re-run instead. There are reportedly no plans to air this episode in the future.
This isn’t the first time APT has taken offence with LGBT representation in Arthur. In 2005, an episode where Buster met a girl with two mums was pulled by the network.
Director of programming at APT, Mike Mckenzie, has given the following statement to AL.com:
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.
We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.
Mr. Ratburn is a beloved, respected member of the Elwood City community. Talented, intelligent and keen to share his passion for learning, he is a solid role model for any young viewer.
Patrick is also shown to be a kind-hearted character, who owns a chocolate shop (the dream!) and shares Mr. Ratburn’s enthusiasm for excitable dancing.
Most importantly, the couple make each other happy which comes as a great relief to Arthur and the gang, who had initially mistook Mr. Ratburn’s bossy sister for his fiancée.
Finding out that Mr. Ratburn actually has a far more chill other half comes as a lovely surprise to his pupils, who just wanted the best for him.
MR RATBURN IS GAY HELLO !! HE GOT MARRIED !! pic.twitter.com/T1Emc97Y0f
— eels! (@WOLFNOlR) May 13, 2019
I personally think it’s a real shame that APT chose against airing this episode, which would have been a good opportunity to allow children from LGBTQ+ households feel represented.
Mr Mckenzie has spoken about his duty of care to parents, who put their trust in the network. But what of the same sex parents who would be grateful for such a positive relationship being depicted in an accessible way?
Congratulations to Mr. Ratburn and Patrick!
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.