The Arthur season 22 premiere came with something of a bombshell reveal. Teacher Mr. Ratburn was revealed to be gay in the most recent episode of the long-running children's program. Not only was it revealed that Mr. Ratburn is gay, but the character even got married in the new episode, cementing this as more than just a small mention, or something that was confirmed in passing.
While many are shocked enough to learn that Arthur is still on the air and has been for more than 20 years, this represents a major moment for the PBS series. The episode, titled Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone, sees the kids learning that their teacher is engaged. They then see him having lunch with someone named Patty, voiced by Jane Lynch, who seems uptight. This concerns the kids and they hatch a plan to stop the wedding from happening. As it turns out, Patty is Mr. Ratburn's sister and he is actually marrying Patrick, a local chocolatier.
While a landmark moment for the series, it's not the first time that LGBTQ characters have been introduced in this universe. In 2005, an episode of the spin-off series Postcards From Buster somewhat famously featured several children whose moms were revealed to be lesbians. Maria Vera Whelan, senior director of marketing, communications and social media for children's media and education at PBS, said this about the big Mr. Ratburn reveal in a statement.
"PBS Kids programs are designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation. We believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS Kids every day."
Naturally, when the news made its way online, many who grew up watching the series reacted. Though, the vast majority of those reactions were either positive, or reacting in surprise to anything other than the fact that Mr. Ratburn is gay. Many pointed out their disbelief that Arthur is indeed still going, for example. A Twitter user by the name of Husky Dave Grohl had a humorous reaction, thinking of what it would be like to try and explain this situation to his younger self.
"Imagine telling me in 1998 that 'Mr. Ratburn' would be a worldwide trend on twitter dot com."
This isn't the only animated series to make headlines for its depiction of LGBTQ characters. Cartoon Network's Steven Universe featured a wedding last year between two female characters, Ruby and Sapphire, as officiated by the titular Steven. Arthur debuted in 1996 and has run for a total of 246 episodes and counting. We've collected some reactions from Twitter to the Mr. Ratburn news for you to check out below. Those interested in seeing the episode in its entirety can do so by heading over to PBSKids.org