Last week, PBS kicked off its 22nd season of “Arthur,” which included a shocking revelation about the show’s beloved character, Mr. Ratburn. In the premiere episode, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” the third-grade teacher came out as gay and walked down the aisle for the show’s first same-sex marriage.
While many fans applauded the network for its progressive programming, others complained about forcing same-sex relationships on children – despite the fact that many live in same-sex households and deserve representation on television. In fact, programming execs in Alabama have refused to air the episode altogether.
According to Deadline, Mike McKenzie, director of programming at Alabama Public Television, said PBS informed stations about the episode in April, citing “possible viewer concerns about the content of the program.” After reviewing the episode with others at APT, McKenzie decided to nix the episode and air a rerun instead.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” McKenzie told AL.com. “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.”
“The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not,” he continued. “Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode.”
According to the publication, this is not the first time APT pulled a progressive ‘Arthur’ episode. Back in 2005, the execs refused to air an episode from the show’s spinoff, “Postcards from Buster,” in which the rabbit visited Vermont and met children whose moms were lesbians.
At that time, PBS said that the “presence of a couple headed by two mothers would not be appropriate curricular purpose that PBS should provide.”