PBS started the 22nd season of the popular cartoon “Arthur” by featuring a groundbreaking scene in which a same-sex couple married. During the episode, we saw Mr. Ratburn, Arthur’s teacher, marry another man. However, it would seem that the Alabama affiliates did not want to air this episode. They refused to allow the residents to join this aardvark and his friends while they were celebrating the couple’s nuptials.
Many reports indicate that Alabama Public Television were the ones to decide not to air “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.” Instead of this episode, they showed an older one. The representatives of this company said that there was some uneasiness because of the content. And this was the main reason why they decided not to distribute the episode to their affiliates.
Furthermore, they said that parents had believed in their company for years, as well as that they relied on them to provide programs to children that would educate, entertain, and inspire them. Also, Mike McKenzie, the director of programming at Alabama Public Television, stated that they thought parents should watch television with their children. At the same time, the company wants children to watch their program without any supervision.
What’s more, they are aware that children who are not the target audience for “Arthur”Marriage watch this show. But the company believes that they will betray the parents’ trust in them if they air the episode. McKenzie concluded that Alabama Public Television was looking after those parents who deemed this scene to be inappropriate.
History Repeating Itself
Many compare this view to the one expressed by Allan Pizzato almost 15 years ago. He was the then APT’s executive director who decided not to show an episode from the “Arthur” spinoff called “Postcards from Buster.” This specific scene talked about lesbian couples. At the time, Pizzato stated that they did not want to lose parents’ trust in their show. Thus, the episode was not suitable for his company.
For years, “Arthur” has shown willingness to present some content which we can see in the real world. In fact, the idea of Mr. Ratburn’s wedding was highly lauded because of its portrayal of same-sex marriages. This, in and of itself, is quite rare for cartoons. Also, people praised it because it celebrated the happy couple without providing additional commentary. The producers did not want to justify or explain same-sex marriage to their audience. Quite the contrary — they just depicted an ordinary same-sex couple.
The state of Alabama legalized same-sex marriage. In fact, the former Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore had to renounce his position, as he tried to outlaw marriage equality in 2016. Mind you, even though this episode did not find its way to local channels, at least we can watch it on the PBS website.