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.
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.
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