The episode, which initially aired nationwide on May 13 and is titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” shows Arthur’s third-grade teacher, Mr. Ratburn, marry his partner, Patrick, a chocolatier, at a wedding by his students.
According to AL.com, after being notified of the topic in April, APT opted not to air the episode and instead air a re-run, as the network "felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode.”
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” APT’s director of programming, Mike McKenzie, said in a statement. “More importantly — although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards — parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”
“The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not," the statement continued. “Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode."
APT had previously pulled a 2005 episode of the series in which Buster visited a friend who had two mothers.
“Our feeling is that we basically have a trust with parents about our programming. This program doesn't fit into that,'' APT’s executive then-director Allan Pizzato said at the time.
News that the network has chosen not to air the episode, which was praised by many as a groundbreaking moment for a children’s TV series, has garnered backlash from those online.
Alabama Public Television refused to air a kids' show because it portrayed a same-sex wedding. It's hard to take people seriously when they complain that everyone in Alabama gets lumped into certain stereotypes. https://t.co/ssU29s47gV— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) May 20, 2019
Alabama: Where we're making women give birth and getting uptight over a Gay Wedding of Anthropomorphic children's cartoon characters.— Kevin D. Grüssing (Pronounced Grew-Sing) (@KevDGrussing) May 20, 2019
Roll Tide, War Eagle, whatever the fuck...
“I never thought I’d be going to battle for a gay rat wedding, but here we are.” https://t.co/2rND5IJFMa— Campbell Robertson (@campbellnyt) May 20, 2019
Currently, APT does not plan to air “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” at a later date, though fans are able to view the episode online at the PBSKids website.