|"Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone"|
|Number in season:||1a|
|Original Airdate:|| May 13, 2019|
November 5, 2019
July 27, 2020
|Written by:||Peter K. Hirsch|
|Storyboard by:||Allan Jeffery|
"Pal and the Big Itch"
One of Mr. Ratburn's usual pop quizzes for the class is interrupted by a phone call from someone named "Patty," who’s calling to discuss flower arrangements for something. Mr. Ratburn apologizes to the class, explaining that the call was for a wedding. When Muffy asks who‘s getting married, Mr. Ratburn answers, "Me." The class gasps in surprise.
Muffy, Arthur, Buster and Francine discuss the news at the Sugar Bowl, surprised that Mr. Ratburn has a life outside the school, as they wonder who would marry Mr. Ratburn. Their question is seemingly answered when Mr. Ratburn walks in with a woman named Patty, who’s shown to be a stickler for perfection. She claims that Mr. Ratburn is too "soft" and that she will toughen him up. While Arthur remarks that they don't really know what Patty is like, the others insist that they need to split them up because a tougher Mr. Ratburn would be unbearable. Muffy uses an app that turns a picture of Mr. Ratburn into an animated hippie. Buster and Arthur then trick Mr. Ratburn into making a recording of him reading a children's book, which they sync up with the app and give to Patty. Unfortunately, Patty just finds the video hilarious.
The kids move to plan B, where they try to set Mr. Ratburn up with Ms. Turner the librarian. Arthur and Francine stop at the gourmet chocolate store Patrick's Chocolates, where the friendly owner Patrick gives them some free samples. They decide that the chocolates are perfect to give Mr. Ratburn to make him fall in love with Ms. Turner. Patrick hears their plan and remarks that chocolate doesn’t necessarily make people fall in love, but he goes along with it when Francine and Arthur claim they are desperate. They try to lure Mr. Ratburn to the library with chocolate and non-alcoholic champagne, but he is too busy with wedding preparations. He then asks them to return a library book for him, Love Poems by Pablo Neruda. This gives Muffy the idea to write a love poem "from" Mr. Ratburn to Ms. Turner. Ms. Turner isn't fooled, however, and returns the poem with corrections to Muffy's bad spelling and grammar (and a how-to guide on writing love poems).
The kids soon learn their families are all invited to the wedding. As a last resort, they choose to object during the ceremony. When they arrive, however, they begin to realize that Patty's duties don't seem consistent with that of a bride's. When Patty observes that they want to say something, the kids change their minds about objecting and compliment the wedding tent. Patty thanks them, but remarks that nothing would have really been good enough for her younger brother's wedding, revealing that not only is not the bride, but that she's Mr. Ratburn's sister (and the officiant for the wedding). The kids are surprised to learn this and, after questioning who Mr. Ratburn's getting married to if Patty isn't the bride, they discover that their teacher is actually getting married to a man—Patrick, the chocolatier they met earlier—and not a woman, after seeing the two of them walking down the aisle arm-in-arm. But instead of being shocked, they are pleased, as Patrick is a friendly person.
The kids enjoy cake after the ceremony and remark that they are happy with how the wedding turned out, and that it is a brand new world now that Mr. Ratburn is married. However, observing Mr. Ratburn and Patrick having their first dance, they all agree with embarrassment that teachers should never dance.
- Ed Crosswire
- Millicent Crosswire
- Oliver Frensky
- Laverne Frensky
- Mr. Barnes
- Mrs. Barnes
- David Read
- Jane Read
- Mr. Powers
- Mrs. Powers
- Rodentia Ratburn
- Miss Sweetwater
- Catherine Frensky
- Bitzi Baxter
- Shop Owner
- Fern Walters
- George Lundgren
- Neal Lundgren
- Mrs. Lundgren
- Jenna Morgan
- Maria Pappas
Public banning in Alabama
Somewhere around the same week that the episode originally aired, Alabama Public Television's director of programming, Mike McKenzie, commented, "The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not. Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode." Then, McKenzie pulled and banned the episode from APT (Alabama Public Television).
GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), however, argued that "[w]ith LGBTQ visibility at an all-time high on television, including in the Kids and Family Programming genre, this attack to censor content is not only mean-spirited, it’s a losing battle. The uptick of LGBTQ characters and stories on kids TV shows has been met with praise from families of all kinds, and media need to put context to the extremely fringe anti-LGBTQ organizations and individuals who speak out against any inclusion. TV worlds often reflect our actual world and today that includes LGBTQ parents and families. LGBTQ parents and their children deserve to see themselves reflected in media and if leadership of this public broadcasting station cannot serve the interests of the entire public, it's time to find someone who can."
Birmingham methodist church screening of the episode
The First United Methodist Church, located in Birmingham, Alabama, hosted a wedding party on June 15, 2019, while screening "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" episode. The director of the festival, Rachel Morgan, got permission from WGBH to screen the episode at the wedding party. Morgan, when hearing Alabama's decision, stated, "personally, I was in disbelief and a little ashamed for our state. With all due respect to Alabama Public Television, it simply doesn't speak well for Alabama on a national level to censor such content. It made me sad, mostly for the message that it potentially sends to children -- that the lives of members of the LGBTQ community don't deserve the same representation as others."
- This episode reveals Mr. Ratburn is homosexual, although the terms "gay" or "homosexual" are never used. In fact, Mr. Ratburn could've been easily been marrying a man or woman in the script, it's that subtle.
- Jane Lynch guest stars in this episode as Mr. Ratburn's older sister, Patty.
- This is not the first time the Arthur franchise has depicted same-sex marriage: In 2005, Postcards from Buster aired the episode "Sugartime!", which included scenes of Buster meeting several real-life children with lesbian parents in Hinesburg, Vermont (at the time, Vermont was one of the few states to recognize civil unions for same-sex parents). The terms "lesbian" and "homosexual" were also never said in that episode, but "Sugartime!" ignited national controversy when then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings demanded PBS return federal funding used to produce the episode. PBS subsequently removed the episode from their schedule, but several member stations chose to independently air it, including Arthur's co-producer WGBH in Boston.
- The significance of this episode was not lost on Arthur creator Marc Brown:
"I'm sure I'm not any different than millions of other families around the world that have people that we love who are gay, who are young families raising children, and it makes me very sad that these young families are not really well-represented or hardly represented at all in our media. And I don't think that's a good thing. This happened to be one of the ideas that... we would have a teacher getting married perhaps, and the more we talked about it the more we saw it as an opportunity for a learning experience, and this great way to represent another part of life that so seldom gets portrayed on television...I started to get emails from family members and friends about, "You're blowing up Twitter!" and I started to read some of the comments from people and it just made me feel great that we did something that was really helpful to so many people. A parent has the opportunity to watch television with their kids and explain things and expand the story that they're watching together and share their values. That's, I think, one of the beauties of television. You know, art reflects life, and life reflects art, and I think kids need to see what's happening in the world. I would hate to live in a world which is sanitized and censored, and that's really something I can't get behind."
- Muffy is very excited about the wedding. She previously "hosted" one in "D.W. Unties the Knot."
- Buster thinks that teachers don't have lives outside of school. This idea was brought up previously in "The Rat Who Came to Dinner" and "Lend Me Your Ear."
- In "Bitzi's Beau," Buster imagined his mother getting married to Mr. Ratburn.
- The music played at the wedding, the prelude to Bach’s cello Suite No. 1 in G major, is the same music that is heard when Grandma Thora and D.W. walk to the library in "My Music Rules."
- There is a cutout of a jester seen on the table in the chocolate shop that looks similar to the jester that hosts the trivia game between Brain and IQ in "The Return of the King."
- Muffy's poor grammar in the fake love poem is a callback to "Francine Goes to War."
- In Arthur's imagination, Mr. Ratburn turns into a green monster similar to the Hulk after he gets angry.
- Mr. Ratburn reads Love Poems by Pablo Neruda.
- Ms. Turner gives Arthur, Buster, Francine and Muffy a book called A Beginner's Guide to Writing Poetry. The color scheme and cover are very similar to the For Dummies series of guides.
- Patrick names his chocolate of the day after Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist and activist.
- The overhead sign at the Sugar Bowl says "Sugar-Free Bowl." The aerial view of the building was likely recycled artwork from "D.W. and the Beastly Birthday," when it was suggested that the parlor is renamed in the future.