Alabama Public Television chose not to air PBS’s Arthur episode that included a same-sex marriage.
In the episode, which aired nationwide May 13, Arthur and his friends attend their beloved teacher Mr. Ratburn’s nuptials to his partner.
APT preempted the episode by showing a re-run of Arthur.
Mike Mckenzie, director of programming at APT, said APT was notified by WGBH and PBS in mid-April about the episode titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” and decided to show a re-run. Mckenzie said APT has no plans to air the episode at a later date.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” Mckenzie said in an email. “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.”
APT previously pulled an episode of Arthur in 2005, when Buster, a bunny character in Arthur visited a girl who had two mothers.
“’Our feeling is that we basically have a trust with parents about our programming. This program doesn’t fit into that,” Alabama Public Television’s executive then-director Allan Pizzato told AL.com in 2005.
Misty Souder, a substitute teacher in McCalla, saw the celebration of inclusion on social media and recorded the episode to watch with her 9-year-old daughter. She and her daughter were disappointed when the episode, which still was named “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” turned out to be a re-run. Souder reached out to APT and used the experience to teach her daughter about the importance of speaking out for the minority groups.
“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.”
The episode is available online at pbs.org.