Plotlines in Arthur are summed up in the theme song’s opening lyrics: What a wonderful kind of day / to learn to work and play / and get along with each other. Arthur and his pals learn how to work through conflict, articulate feelings, and take action on issues they care about.
In the show’s 22nd season opener, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” Arthur’s teacher walked down the aisle to say “I do” in a wedding that made national news. That’s because Mr. Ratburn married another man. It marked one of the most well-known children’s programs to date to feature gay marriage. Note the storyline is not about the revelation that Mr. Ratburn is gay; it’s the kids’ concern that teachers aren’t supposed to have lives outside of the classroom! They withdraw their objections when they witness Mr. Ratburn’s obvious happiness.
That’s not the only episode to reflect 21st century issues. In “Muffy’s Car Campaign,” Francine circulates a petition to get more cars off the road and help the environment. But there’s a problem! Francine’s dad sells cars for a living. And, in “The Longest Eleven Minutes,” the gang has to endure 11 whole minutes without – gasp! – Internet connection! Can they find other ways to connect and stay entertained that don’t rely on their beloved devices?
Arthur has endured for so long for a reason. If you’re looking for television role models for your kids, you can’t do better than this perpetual third-grade aardvark.
Gina Catanzarite ©2020 Parents’ Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 14 Emmy® awards, 37 Emmy® nominations, a Matrix award, 3 Golden Quill awards, 2 Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.