The 22nd season premiere of PBS’s Arthur included a bit of a surprise, as audiences were treated to a beautiful wedding. But Alabama Public Television refused to air it because it was a sex-same marriage.
This being Alabama—a magical land where men who know nothing about human anatomy dictate the terms of the anatomy of women—I can’t even pretend to be surprised.
The episode, entitled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” shows the wedding of Arthur’s third-grade teacher Mr. Ratburn – a cartoon rat – to his partner, a chocolatier named Patrick.
It aired nationwide on May 13 as the series 22nd season premiere, prompting widespread online praise from supporters of LGBTQ rights.
But Alabama Public Television (APT) decided to show a re-run instead, after being notified about the episode by PBS, local news site AL.com reports.
“The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not,” Mike McKenzie, director of programming at APT, said in a statement. “Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode.”
The marriage in question involves Arthur’s longtime teacher Mr. Ratburn and his beau Patrick, who students approve of because Patrick is “nice, kind” and “fun to be with.”
Unfortunately, the notoriously conservative state of Alabama feels otherwise.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” McKenzie wrote in his statement. “More importantly—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.”
According to McKenzie, after conveniently airing a re-run during the original air date of “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” the APT has no plans to air the episode in future.
The network pulled a similar stunt in 2005 when a character named Buster met a girl with two mothers on Postcards From Buster, an Arthur spinoff.