“Arthur” is one controversial cartoon.
Alabama Public Television pulled the Season 22 premiere of the long-running animated series. The episode, titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” revolved around the same-sex wedding of the series’ elementary school teacher.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” APT director of programming Mike McKenzie told AL.com. “More importantly, although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterward, parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision.”
The network opted to air a rerun from Season 21 instead, McKenzie said, because “children who are younger than the target audience for ‘Arthur’ also watch the program.”
This isn’t the first time APT yanked an “Arthur” episode over LGBTQ themes — they also did it in 2005 when it was revealed that Arthur’s bunny buddy Buster had two moms. At the time, a network exec said, “Our feeling is that we basically have a trust with parents about our programming. This program doesn’t fit into that.”
The social media response to APT’s latest action is divided.
“In an effort to defray its tattered image in light of its horrific and blatantly unconstitutional new abortion law, Alabama has decided to rectify the situation by also banning the new gay marriage episode of Arthur on public television. Go ‘bama, go…,” Ryan LaFlamme tweeted.
On the other end of the opinion spectrum, @FriscoVince posted, “Alabama does the right thing by not confusing children.”
A spokesperson for PBS told Entertainment Tonight: “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.”