Metro Weekly

Arthur’s teacher comes out and marries his boyfriend in long-running PBS cartoon

Mr. Ratburn marries his boyfriend in a surprise reveal during the 22nd season's first episode

Patrick (left) and Mr. Ratburn at their wedding — Photo: PBS Kids

Long-running PBS Kids cartoon Arthur has opened its 22nd season by revealing that Mr. Ratburn as gay.

According to TVLine, the character — who teaches the titular 8-year-old aardvark Arthur and his friends — marries his partner in the episode, much to the surprise of the kids.

The episode, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,”which aired Monday, May 13, saw Arthur and friends learn that Mr. Ratburn is engaged.

They then spot Ratburn having lunch with a woman, Patty (voiced by Jane Lynch), who tells him that he’s “too soft” and should “toughen up.”

The kids believe that Patty is Ratburn’s fiance, and that she will make him miserable — which, in true childhood fashion, they realize will then make them miserable in school — and so decide to try and stop the wedding.

Of course, as you’ve probably guessed, when Arthur and co. show up to the wedding, they quickly discover how wrong they were — the woman is actually Mr. Ratburn’s sister.

“Then who is Mr. Ratburn marrying?” asks Arthur’s friend Muffy. Mr. Ratburn then walks down the aisle with his partner, Patrick.

The children quickly realize how happy Mr. Ratburn is, and, rather than sabotage the big day, instead eat cake and mock the happy couple’s dancing.

Unfortunately, despite widespread praise for Mr. Ratburn’s nuptials on social media, it hasn’t stopped some from busting out their right-wing homophobia.

Q. Allan Brocka, creator of Logo series Rick & Steve and known for the Eating Out films, collated a few responses in a tweet.

“Not a wonderful kind of day,” one user wrote in reference to Arthur‘s title song. “So I guess we are forcing this content to our children now,” said another.

A third user took a giant, disgusting leap of imagination and tweeted, “Next season [Arthur’s younger sister] D.W. will have her first sexual experience with a 35 year old man!”

“Sure it’s ok to let a faggot come out of the closet but don’t [sic] you teach kids about God,” someone else wrote.

Brocka clapped back: “I mean, *somebody’s* got to teach your kids how not to be douche nozzles.”

The word “gay” is never said during the “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” — much like a 2005 episode of Arthur spin-off Postcards From Buster, which featured lesbian moms in Vermont, but didn’t use the word “lesbian.”

That didn’t stop it from being subject to conservative ire at the time, with PBS withdrawing the episode from airing after then Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings demanded PBS return the federal funds used to create the episode, claiming “many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode.”

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!