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"Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone"

Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone

Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone Title Card

Season/Series: 22
Number in season: 1a
Original Airdate: Flag of the United States May 13, 2019
Credits
Written by: Peter K. Hirsch
Storyboard by: Allan Jeffery
Episodes
Previous
"Pal and the Big Itch"
Next
"The Feud"
"Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" is the first half of the first episode in the twenty-second season of Arthur.

Synopsis

The gang is surprised that Mr. Ratburn is getting married.[1]

Plot

One of Mr. Ratburn's usual pop quizzes for the class is interrupted by a cell phone call from someone named "Patty," who is 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 is 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 classroom, 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 first 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 match Mr. Ratburn with the librarian Ms. Turner. 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 does not 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 she is not actually the bride. The kids question who Mr. Ratburn is actually marrying. Their question is soon answered: Mr. Ratburn walks down the aisle arm-in-arm with his new husband, Patrick.

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.

Characters

Major

Minor

Cameo

Mentioned

Controversy

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).[2][3]

GLAAD (Gay & 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."[4]

Petiton

2 weeks ago, since the banning of the episode, a petition was started by user Alex Hirsch to change Alabama's decision to ban the episode. As of June 3, 2019, the petition has over 27,000 signatures. However, McKenzie has not responded to the petition yet.[5]

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, "[p]ersonally, 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." McKenzie has yet to respond to the screening.[6]

Trivia

  • It is revealed in this episode that Mr. Ratburn is homosexual.
  • 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 never said in that episode (nor are they used in this 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."
– Marc Brown interviewed by CBC[7]

Cultural references

Episode connections

Errors

  • 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’s suggested that the parlor is renamed in the future.

Gallery

References

  1. https://play.google.com/store/tv/show?id=UFKe2tLqrkA&cdid=tvseason-UFKe2tLqrkA95123086B662B808SE&gdid=tvepisode-UFKe2tLqrkA752FAB65F706948CEP
  2. https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/444688-alabama-public-television-wont-air-arthur-episode-with-gay-wedding
  3. https://katv.com/news/local/arkansas-public-tv-refused-to-air-arthur-episode-with-gay-marriage
  4. https://ew.com/tv/2019/05/21/arthur-mr-ratburn-same-sex-wedding-alabama/
  5. https://www.change.org/p/the-state-of-alabama-change-the-alabama-state-flag-to-mr-ratburn-s-wedding?recruiter=559134944&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_petition&recruited_by_id=2cd9ba60-3657-11e6-908c-f7ec04890aa3&use_react=false
  6. https://www.al.com/news/2019/06/birmingham-church-to-host-wedding-party-while-screening-banned-arthur-episode.html
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9oQZ1k8peo
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