The new season of the PBS Kids cartoon Arthur includes a milestone in children’s programming with the wedding of a long-time character to his same-sex partner.
Nigel Ratburn, the teacher of eternally 8-year-old Arthur, was revealed to be gay in an episode entitled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.”
Entertainment Weekly notes the children’s show in the past tackled many issues from autism to cancer. But this is the first time a character has been revealed to be LGBTQ.
Especially noteworthy, the character has been on the show since it debuted 22 years ago, and also appeared in the Marc Brown children’s books on which the series is based.
In the episode, Arthur and other members of his class presume they are going to a wedding between Mr. Ratburn and Patty, but then they realize Patty is in fact the teacher’s sister.
Then Ratburn walks down the aisle with Patrick, presumed by the children to be the teacher’s friend.
“It’s a brand new world,” declares Buster, Arthur’s best friend, at the reception.
But notably, that comment simply comes in a conversation among the children about the fact Ratburn had been married. Little mention is made of the historic same-sex wedding taking place on an American children’s television show, one on public broadcasting no less.
Of course, a few viewers noted on Twitter that Ratburn may not even have been the show’s only character making an LGBTQ debut in the episode.
Some figure Patty, voiced by out comedienne Jane Lynch, presented a solid lesbian vibe herself.
“Animation Twitter is losing it over the fact that Arthur made Mr. Ratburn gay but no one is talking about his clearly queer sister,” noted a Twitter user named Goth Ms. Frizzle.