The wedding of Mr. Ratburn briefly made Arthur into the most talked about program in the PBS Kids line-up this year. But children in Birmingham aren't going to be able to watch.
Alabama Public Television elected not to air the May 13 episode “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” the season premiere for the show, according AL.com. Instead, the local affiliate showed a re-run. There are no plans to air the episode in the future.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” Mike Mckenzie, director of programming at APT, told the news outlet. “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. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”
The station was notified in mid-April that the episode was on its way, and made the decision to pre-empt the programming.
It’s not the first time the Alabama affiliate pulled an episode of Arthur over its LGBTQ-inclusive content. The station in 2005 pulled an episode where a character visits a girl with two mothers.
However, the episodes can still be streamed on PBS.org
The local media became aware that the episode was pulled after mother Misty Souder read about the episode and sat down with her daughter to watch it, then realized she had recorded a re-run. When she learned the network pulled the content, she alerted the media.
“I just want her to be aware,” Souder said. “There’s too much going on not to stand up for stuff, even if it’s Arthur. I never thought I’d be going to battle for a gay rat wedding, but here we are.”
Comments on AL.com show an expectable mix of criticism of the station and hateful condemnation of gay weddings.
“Wasn't that long ago that 'good Christian folk' would been screaming about an interracial marriage on TV,” says one user.
“I still do,” responds another.