Monday, May 13, 2019

'Arthur' Character Mr. Ratburn Comes Out as Being Homosexual, Gets Married in Season 22 Premiere

Here are two things you probably didn’t know: First, the animated children’s series Arthur is still on the air, entering its 22nd season on PBS Kids in the U.S.. Second, Arthur’s teacher — the well-read, well-dressed, well-liked Mr. Ratburn — is a homosexual.


The news comes out in Monday, May 13’s premiere, titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” in which Arthur and his pals are shocked to discover that Mr. Ratburn is engaged — mostly because they refuse to accept that their teachers actually have lives outside of school. “When they go home, they sharpen pencils, eat kale and dream up homework assignments,” Buster insists. “They don’t even sleep! They just go into low-power mode and watch documentaries.”

This paranoia only grows when the gang spots Mr. Ratburn having lunch with an uptight woman (voiced by special guest star Jane Lynch, iCarly, Two and a Half Men, Glee), who tells Mr. Ratburn that he’s “too soft” and needs to “toughen up.” They decide that marrying her will make Mr. Ratburn miserable, which will then make his students miserable, so they set off to nip the nuptials in the bud. Little do they realize, the woman in question is actually Mr. Ratburn’s sister, who just wants the best for his big day.


Arthur and his gang of mostly recognizable animal friends show up to the wedding ready to object, but when they see who Mr. Ratburn is actually marrying — not to mention how happy the couple appears — they decide not to sabotage their teacher’s big day, after all. They do, however, make fun of the way Mr. Ratburn and his new husband dance, which is fair.


Mr. Ratburn’s partner doesn’t have any lines in the episode, he simply winks at the children as he walks by them going down the aisle with his third grade teacher husband. From the looks of him, he is an aardvark like the show’s titular hero.

The news that Mr. Ratburn is gay exploded social media, making the term 'Mr. Ratburn' trend on Twitter.

Of course, this isn’t the first time the Arthur-verse has featured a gay character. In 2005, PBS was forced to pull an episode of the Arthur spinoff Postcards from Buster in which Buster visited a family with lesbian mothers. Before it was to air, former education secretary under George W. Bush Margaret Spellings asked PBS to pull the episode for fear that children might be exposed to — gasp! — lesbians.

Arthur creator Marc Brown said he was “disappointed” by PBS’s decision to comply with Spellings’ request.

“What we are trying to do in the series is connect kids with other kids by reflecting their lives,” Brown said. “In some episodes, as in the Vermont one, we are validating children who are seldom validated. We believe that Postcards From Buster does this in a very natural way —and, as always, from the point of view of children."

For what it’s worth, the word “lesbian” wasn’t actually used in the episode, just as Mr. Ratburn doesn’t use the word “gay” in Monday’s Arthur premiere.


Some of you may be wondering why I'm posting about Arthur, as it's not a Nickelodeon show - it did, however, air on Nickelodeon UK (and CBBC) in the mid-nineties!

Arthur is the latest animated series to include a prominent LGBTQ character. In 2016, Nickelodeon made network history with their first-ever portrayal of a same-sex male couple on their animated series The Loud House. The show has also revealed that Lincoln's sister, Luna, and her crush, Sam, are bi-sexual. The series' positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ characters has earned it two GLAAD Media Awards nominations.

The network also featured a younger unmarried female same-sex couple in the 2014 conclusion of its hit animated action series The Legend of Korra, which ended with Korra and Asami, two of the shows female characters, embarking on a romantic relationship, with fans endearingly calling the couple 'Korrasami'. Korra and Asami's relationship continues in comic book sequels to the series, including the upcoming Ruins of the Empire.

Further back in the '90s, Nickelodeon's iconic animated series Hey Arnold!, one of Arnold's teachers, Mr. Simmons, was gay. Craig Bartlett, the creator of Hey Arnold!, has also hinted that Arnold's friend, Eugene Horowitz, was also gay.

Most recently, Nickelodeon's revived Double Dare featured it's first family with two dads. A major milestone.

These representations are big deal considering that Nickelodeon has millions of viewers around the world, and the network's TV shows and movies featuring LGBTQ+ characters is an important step forward for mainstream visibility and acceptance of same-sex couples among younger viewers.

Congrats to the happy couple! :)

More Nick: Nickelodeon Embarks on New Direction with its Biggest, Most Wide-Ranging Content Slate Ever!

Original source: TVLine.com; Additional source: Out, Twitter /@WOLFNOlR.
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