PBS Show 'Arthur' Introduces Children To Same-Sex Marriage

23 hours ago
Originally published on May 15, 2019 6:21 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It is a wonderful day. That's the theme song to the series "Arthur," which airs on PBS Kids. It stars an anthropomorphic aardvark and his friends and has been running since 1996.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Yeah, the show is based on Marc Brown's books of the same name. And on Monday, "Arthur's" 22'nd season premiered with an episode called "Mr. Ratburn And The Special Someone."

MARTIN: Right. So Mr. Ratburn is a third-grade teacher in the show, who is, of course, a rat. And in the episode, he's getting married.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ARTHUR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Are the flowers on the quiz too?

ARTHUR HOLDEN: (As Mr. Ratburn) No, they're for a wedding.

MELISSA ALTRO: (As Muffy) A wedding - who's getting married?

HOLDEN: (As Mr. Ratburn) Me.

KING: The students are left wondering who the lucky someone is.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ARTHUR")

ALTRO: (As Muffy) Who is Mr. Ratburn marrying?

MARTIN: That is answered when Mr. Ratburn walks the aisle with his new husband, an aardvark named Patrick. Mr. Ratburn's been a character since the beginning. And this is the first time, though, that the show has made reference to his sexual orientation. Here's Mathew Rodriguez. He's a staff writer from Out magazine.

MATHEW RODRIGUEZ: I thought this was a really great example of ways to teach children that there are so many different types of people and that queer people exist. And we are in your everyday life in ways that, sometimes, you don't even know.

MARTIN: He says he hopes this is something we see more of.

RODRIGUEZ: To see something is to know that it exists in the world and to know that that is possible for you.

KING: This move, this episode was also applauded by Sarah Kate Ellis. She's the president and CEO of GLAAD media advocacy organization. They are thrilled by this storyline.

SARAH KATE ELLIS: It's really important for children to see families like their own in programming that they watch all the time.

KING: She hopes it continues.

ELLIS: We're seeing more and more representation and inclusion in kids' and family TV programming. I'm hoping it's starting to become normalized.

MARTIN: PBS said in a statement to NPR that, quote, "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." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.