BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama Public Television has decided that it will not run the same-sex “wedding” episode of the longtime children’s cartoon “Arthur” as it does not want to breach its trust with parents in the state.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” Mike Mckenzie, director of programming, 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,” he explained. “We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”
As previously reported, the episode, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” depicts elementary school teacher Mr. Ratburn as “marrying” an aardvark named Patrick. It also features the voice of lesbian actor Jane Lynch, who plays Ratburn’s sister, Patty.
The broadcast opens with Ratburn, Arthur’s teacher, receiving a phone call on his cell phone. His ring tone plays out Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.”
After students hear Ratburn discussing floral arrangements during the brief call, they ask if flowers will be on their quiz.
“No, they’re for a wedding,” he replies.
“A wedding? Who’s getting married?” Muffy Crosswire exclaims.
“Me,” Ratburn discloses, as the students loudly gasp.
As Arthur and his friends later discuss the shocking development at a restaurant, suddenly Ratburn walks in with Patty, who the students assume is his fiance. Being worried about Patty’s demanding and harsh nature, the students seek out ways to thwart the supposed relationship and stop the wedding.
Upon attending the event with intentions to object, Arthur and his friends discover that Patty is actually Ratburn’s sister, and question among themselves who their teacher might be marrying. Within moments, Ratburn walks down the aisle with Patrick, and the students smile. Ratburn winks at the camera.
ABC News reports that the various local PBS stations have the freedom to decide what broadcasts they will and will not run, but PBS also seemed to defend the depiction of Ratburn as homosexual.
“PBS stations are independently run and make local scheduling decisions for programs,” Representative Maria Vera Whelan said in a statement. “PBS KIDS programs are designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation. We believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS KIDS every day.”
Alabama Public Television decided to play a rerun of another “Arthur” broadcast for the premiere instead of the “Special Someone” episode. It reportedly did the same in 2005 surrounding an episode where Buster visits a girl who has two mothers.
As previously reported, an increasing number of children’s programs have depicted homosexuality or transgenderism in recent years.
In 2017, an episode of the preschooler-geared Disney Junior cartoon “Doc McStuffins”featured an animated depiction of the lesbian mothers of two children. Disney also raised concerns the same year when it aired its first-ever same-sex kissing scene during a broadcast of its cartoon “Star vs. the Forces of Evil.”
Last summer, World of Wonder’s WOW Presents Plus aired the cartoon “Drag Tots,” voiced by cast members of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and featuring four pint-sized drag queens who attend grammar school. Netflix also announced its animated series “Super Drags,” which centers on the fictional tales of drag queen superheroes.
The late Anglican preacher J.C. Ryle once said, “Men try to cheat themselves into the belief that sin is not quite so sinful as God says it is, and that they are not so bad as they really are.” He also is quoted as stating, “The world will let a man go to Hell quietly and never try to stop him. The world will never let a man go to Heaven quietly. They will do all they can to turn him back.”