The Season 22 premiere of the PBS Kids series follows Arthur and friends as they try to uncover the woman Mr. Ratburn is to wed, only to learn it's a man.
PBS is offering more representation for its youngest viewers as a long-standing character from its hit show "Arthur" has come out as gay in the Season 22 premiere.
The show smartly explores the marriage through the eyes of Arthur and his friends, who are shocked to discover that their teacher Mr. Ratburn is going to tie the knot. They spend the episode trying to figure out who the bride might be, finally settling on a female rat named Patty (Jane Lynch).
Ultimately, they discover that Patty is Mr. Ratburn's sister -- another shock to find out their teacher has his own life and family. They then turn to see Mr. Ratburn coming down the aisle with his actual fiance, another groom.
The kids were all excited for their teacher, as Arthur's friend said, "It's a brand new world." She was simply referring to their teacher being married, as young children generally don't have more complex thoughts about love and relationships.
Mr. Ratburn is the gay icon I never knew I needed pic.twitter.com/wp4o5TLr1p— Andrea Cee (@extraspicee) May 13, 2019
But for the show and PBS Kids, it's "a brand new world," indeed. This is the kind of representation that is essential to normalize same-sex marriages, just as the inclusion of women and people of color in our entertainment goes such a long way to combat sexism and racism.
That was at the forefront of the network's decision to offering this type of inclusion, telling People 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
This is the series' second attempt at including a same-sex couple in their universe, though the first came in a 2005 spinoff titled "Postcards from Buster." Variety reports that series included a lesbian relationship and came under almost immediate fire, with then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings denouncing the program.
As expected with an issue as polarizing as this one, Twitter lit up Monday evening and overnight as the story broke wide, with people lining up on both sides of the issue, in support of the marriage or denouncing it as Spellings did 14 years ago.
MR RATBURN IS GAY HELLO !! HE GOT MARRIED !! pic.twitter.com/T1Emc97Y0f— EIGHTH WONDER (@WOLFNOlR) May 13, 2019
Hold up Mr. Ratburn frm Arthur gay?? Chile I'm so here for it— 🥰🤑💛💖 (@_ItsJazzieJazz_) May 13, 2019
What the fuck— Okime (@Celtic_Fan34) May 13, 2019
They really going to make mr ratburn from arthur gay and get married
They really pushing this gay agenda everywhere these days
So about that Arthur Gay Marriage episode. They did this 15 years ago, when Buster meets a lesbian couple. It caused so much outrage at the time that PBS banned it. Even though it was a live action segment, Im glad so much has progressed since then. https://t.co/kxTa6un3tF— richmunk (@AThirstyBottle) May 14, 2019
PSA: Mr. Ratburn from "Arthur" is gay. Do you know how amazing it is that someone who's been on the show from the start, someone who's a main character, is openly gay and getting married on a kids show? PBS Kids really is that bitch.— osmosis jones (@keeothrama) May 13, 2019
Plus, all his students are at his wedding! :') pic.twitter.com/aaxGwTE9is
They turned Mr Ratburn from the cartoon Arthur gay....society is doing too much now....— Howard Potts (@MysterEWoodz) May 14, 2019
i like that they made the teacher character in arthur gay cause u dont see that a lot even when there is rep in a show bc of....well...............i probably dont have to explain— zevrans wife @ commissions open (@zevwanawainai) May 14, 2019
I found out that Mr. Ratburn's getting married to a bloke on Arthur and I say hey (hey) what a wonderful kind of gay.— Gavin Herman (@MrHissara) May 13, 2019
It turns out Arthur is more courageous and explicit than Avengers: Endgame when it comes to LGBTQ2 lives and storylines. Congrats Mr. Ratburn! Your move, Marvel.... https://t.co/eq99SerHaC— Rachel Giese (@rachelagiese) May 13, 2019
My God. First Ruby and Sapphire from Steven Universe and now Mr. Ratburn from Arthur.— PANCAKE (@Lurkingfollower) May 13, 2019
Someone get me a tissue 😭🧻🤧 pic.twitter.com/LfQQdvKaAU