Arthur returned to PBS for its 22nd season on Monday, and in the premiere episode, Mr. Ratburn, a third-grade teacher on the animated series, married another male character.
In the episode, titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” Arthur and his friends are amazed that their teacher has a life outside of the classroom and mistakenly believed Mr. Ratburn’s sister, voiced by Jane Lynch, was the bride-to-be. The group of students were unaware of whom Mr. Ratburn was marrying until the two men walked down the aisle together.
According to TVLine, since first airing in 1996, Arthur never mentioned Mr. Ratburn’s sexuality until the wedding episode. It should be noted that the word “gay” was not used throughout the nearly 25-minute premiere.
The outlet also reported that Mr. Ratburn is not the only LGBTQ character to be featured on the long-running series. During a 2005 episode, Buster, the cartoon rabbit and lead character’s best friend, met with a group of kids who had two mothers, although “lesbian” was never used in that episode either.
After “Mr. Ratburn and Someone Special” aired Monday, there were mixed reactions on social media, including congratulations from GLAAD, the LBGTQ advocacy group.
The full episode can be watched at PBSKids.org.