"Arthur" character comes out as gay, gets married in season 22 premiere

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

To the surprise of many, the 22nd season of "Arthur" just premiered on PBS – yes, that lovable aardvark and his friends are still on the air. But the classic children's show is very much keeping up with the times. The premiere episode revealed Arthur's teacher, Mr. Ratburn, is gay.

In "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone," the beloved teacher of Arthur and his friends gets married to a man. It's not the first time the children's show has included LGBTQ storylines although the last one occurred in 2005, TV Line reports. In the episode "Postcards from Buster," Arthur's best friend met children with two moms while on a trip to Vermont.

Arthur and his friends overhear Mr. Ratburn and an uptight woman, voiced by Jane Lynch, discussing his wedding. They believe the woman is his bride and devise a plan to stop the wedding. PBS/"Arthur"

The word "lesbian" was not used in the episode, nor was the word "gay" used in the episode about Mr. Ratburn. However, the show received praise for teaching children that men can marry men and women can marry women.

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In the season 22 premiere, the students see Mr. Ratburn speaking to an uptight lady, voiced by guest star Jane Lynch. They fear she is the person Mr. Ratburn is going to marry, and they devise a plan to stop the wedding and prevent a life of misery for their teacher.

Arthur and his friends show up to the wedding ready to object to it – only to see Mr. Ratburn walk down the aisle with his groom.
Arthur and his friends show up to the wedding ready to object to it – only to see Mr. Ratburn walk down the aisle with his groom. PBS/"Arthur"

But the kids chicken out when they get to the wedding and don't stand up to object to the marriage. Then, they learn the uptight woman is just Mr. Ratburn's sister, who is officiating the nuptials. When Mr. Ratburn walks down the aisle, he is arm in arm with a man.

The third-graders are happy for their newlywed teacher, but there's one thing they are mortified by: his dancing.

People took to Twitter when they learned about the episode – but many were sharing their disbelief that "Arthur" was still on the air. Some Twitter users wrote that they hope other TV shows and movies include LGBTQ characters and storylines.

I think the biggest surprise about Mr. Ratburn from Arthur being gay is that I'm just now finding out that Arthur is still coming out with new episodes.

— Erica Mendez (@tsunderica) May 14, 2019

My hand to god, I had no idea "Arthur" is still being produced, let alone in its 22nd season, and I'm now going to make a donation to @PBS. https://t.co/P8DIxbF5u5

— Charlotte Clymer🏳️‍🌈 (@cmclymer) May 14, 2019

1) Shoutout to Mr. Ratburn!

2) Arthur has been on TV forever. Season 22?? https://t.co/27W8Xo1NhA

— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 13, 2019

In 2015, same-sex marriage became legal across the country. So, regardless of where Arthur's fictional Elwood City actually is, Mr. Ratburn's marriage would be recognized.

First published on May 14, 2019 / 9:28 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Arthur and his friends overhear Mr. Ratburn and an uptight woman, voiced by Jane Lynch, discussing his wedding. They believe the woman is his bride and devise a plan to stop the wedding. Arthur and his friends show up to the wedding ready to object to it – only to see Mr. Ratburn walk down the aisle with his groom.

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