Some Kids Missed This Episode of ‘Arthur’ – Here’s Why
Public television stations across two states are refusing to air an episode of a popular children’s cartoon because it features two men marrying.
The “Arthur” episode aired nationwide May 13 as part of the show’s 22nd season premiere, but children in Alabama and Arkansas didn’t get to see it according to a KCCI.com Des Moines story.
Leaders with Alabama Public Television said they thought it would be a “violation of trust” with its viewers.
“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,” Mike McKenzie, director of programming at the public television station, told AL.com. “We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for ‘Arthur’ also watch the program.”
A spokeswoman with Arkansas Educational Television Network had a similar response.
“We previewed the episode in question because content decisions that affect our smallest viewers and their parents are a major concern for us,” she said in a statement to Hearst TV’s WVTM. “While, ideally, parents watch our programming with their children and discuss it with them afterwards, the reality is that many children, some of them younger than age four, watch when a parent is not in the room. In realizing that many parents may not have been aware of the topics of the episode beforehand, we made the decision not to air it.”
In the cartoon, Arthur and his classmates attend the wedding of their beloved third grade teacher, Mr. Ratburn.
The show does not specifically address the sexuality of the cartoon rat, nor does it show a wedding ceremony.
Viewers see Mr. Ratburn and Patrick, a chocolate maker, walking down the aisle.
One of the cartoon characters asks, “Who is Mr. Ratburn marrying?” Patrick replies with a wink.
The episode is available here.
A mother and substitute teacher in Alabama, said she thought the episode was a celebration of inclusion.
She said she was disappointed the public television station chose not to air the episode and used the experience to teacher her daughter a lesson in standing up for minority groups.
“There’s too much going on not to stand up for stuff, even if it’s ‘Arthur,’” she said. “I never thought I’d be going to battle for a gay rat wedding, but here we are.”
A spokeswoman for PBS Kids said programs are “designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation.”
Iowa Public Television aired the episode last week with minimal comments from those unhappy with its airing.