Arthur kicked off its 22nd season with an episode about same-sex marriage and while the premiere received mostly positive reviews, not everyone was happy about the message that it preached. In fact, the state of Alabama outright banned the episode and have no plans to air it in the future.
The episode, entitled, Mr. Ratburn and the special someone aired on May 13th, 2019 and featured Arthur’s teacher getting married to his partner, Patrick. With that being said, Alabama Public Television decided not to air the original episode and had a rerun put in its place.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” Mike Mckenzie, who is the programming director for APT, said in an email. “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.”
Mckenzie also revealed that he was made aware of the episode in April and made the decision then to have it pulled from the airwaves. Although some are hopeful that APT will eventually air the episode at a later date, Mckenzie also claimed that is not the case.
Unfortunately for Alabama, this stunning ban comes the same month that legislators in the state passed a controversial abortion bill that bans the procedure even in cases of rape and incest. Furthermore, it is seen as yet another way that the state isn’t being progressive enough, which is making it the butt of many jokes in the media.
‘Our feeling is that we basically have a trust with parents about our programming Mckenzie said when asked about why the episode would not be aired, “This program doesn’t fit into that,”
This isn’t the first time that APT pulled an episode of the show as an episode of Postcards from Buster was banned in 2005 due to it featuring same-sex marriage as well. The episode, which was a spinoff of the original Arthur series, showed Buster visit a friend with two mothers.
The conservative group, One million moms, has also come out against the episode, calling for parents everywhere to boycott the show until PBS agrees to stop airing the episode. Their petition argues that PBS is normalizing same-sex marriage by airing this episode and that the television company shouldn’t be politicizing children’s television like this.
In the end, the episode has received a lot of positive reviews, with many applauding the company’s effort to give more representation to The LGBTQ community, but others find that the show is shoving an alternative lifestyle down their throats.
Either way, its generally being seen as a step forward for children’s programming and definitely opens the door to more ballsy moves like this in the future.