Arthur cast
photo: PBS Kids

Fans of the PBS Kids series Arthur were thrilled when the show featured its first openly gay marriage in its 22 seasons.

The show is popular among children, of course, but gained notoriety with a clenched-fist meme that was popularized throughout internet culture — or, various snarky D.W. memes that have gained popularity as well. The show is about a group of animal friends dealing with typical childhood dilemmas. 

The progressive nature of the show is not a new phenomena: in 2005, a spinoff of Arthur, Postcards From Buster, featured an open lesbian couple. However, the gay marriage was a coming out for one of the show's most prominent characters. 

Congratulations to the happy couple — Mr. Nigel Ratburn and Patrick!

Mr. Ratburn is Arthur and the gang's third grade teacher. In the episode, available on PBS Kids, the kids speculate who Mr. Ratburn could be marrying. They're concerned he's marrying the tough rat Patty (Jane Lynch), who is introduced early in the episode, because they fear she could turn Mr. Ratburn into a stricter teacher. They're relieved when they discover that Patty is actually his sister, and Mr. Ratburn is marrying an aardvark named Patrick. 

"Mr. Ratburn is married, I still can't believe it!" Arthur exclaims. And Francine responds, "Yup, it's a brand-new world."

Twitter is really into Mr. Ratburn's new hubby. 

One person on Twitter jokes, "Fine, I'll say it: Mr. Ratburn's husband is Hot!!" 

While most everyone is down for Mr. Ratburn's chocolatier husband, some were confused about his animal identity. Apparently he is an aardvark, and that also marks one of the first inter-species marriages in the show. 

Longtime fans of the show are proud of the progressive moment. 

"Mr. Ratburn marrying his husband makes me so so happy. Like I cannot put into words how special this is to me, how a cartoon anthro rat teacher man is marrying another cartoon anthro man," one fan on Twitter wrote. 

This person also wrote how glad they were that children have a show like this that they can connect to: "Arthur is a very special thing for me, I grew up with it and I connected to it for a long time, more so than any other show I think. It covered and taught many important things. I’m so glad kids can have this." 

The episode, "Mr. Ratburn & The Special Someone," marked the start of the new season. 

The Arthur Twitter account announced that the new season would start with an episode featuring gay icon Jane Lynch. It came to many as a surprise that Mr. Ratburn was the character featured as gay in the episode, but most were here for it. The episode did get some pushback, of course, but overall it was a win for LGBTQ representation. 

Arthur first premiered back in 1996. 

Multiple generations have grown up watching the series. And now that the show is making headlines, people can't believe it's still running. 

One person on Twitter notes, "I think the biggest surprise about Mr. Ratburn from Arthur being gay is that I'm just now finding out that Arthur is still coming out with new episodes."

At 22 seasons long, it is one of the top 10 longest-running children's shows. 

Jane Lynch voiced Mr. Ratburn's sister, Patty, and Twitter has some thoughts. 

People on Twitter couldn't help but wonder if gay icon Jane Lynch also played an LGBTQ character on the show. 

Someone wrote, "Animation twitter is losing it over the fact that arthur made mr ratburn gay but no one is talking about his clearly queer sister." 

Lynch has not made any comments about her Arthur appearance whatsoever, or if Mr. Ratburn's sister was out as well. 

Amid the James Charles scandal, Twitter users just couldn't help but poke fun. 

Mr. Ratburn's wedding came just in time. Someone on Twitter wrote, "James Charles may be canceled, but there's a new gay icon in town: Mr. Ratburn." 

All jokes aside, this character will open up conversation and normalize an identity for children. Arthur made great strides in LGBTQ representation this week. 

This is hardly the first progressive moment to be featured in the show. 

Arthur is a show that deals with childhood traumas and issues in a palatable way for children. A fan of the series on Twitter pointed out all of the different identities and types of people and families that are represented on the PBS Kids show. 

"watch arthur pls! it has:
- gay marriage
- a character w aspergers
- a blind character
- a character in a wheelchair
- a jewish character
- kids who appreciate cultural differences
- divorced parents
- kids who live with their grandma
- a grandparent with alzheimer's
- and more!"

Fans loved the fact that Mr. Ratburn's coming out was normalized and presented without any fuss. 

Someone on Twitter rhetorically questioned why make Mr. Ratburn gay in the first place, and answered in the realization that it made sense. It was significant that the show made a primary character who has been featured for years without any mention of sexual orientation come out in a blasé and natural way. 

"Sometimes, when a show outwardly touches on a character's sexual orientation after several years of that not mattering, I wonder why they even did that (prime example: Lenny and Carl in The Simpsons). With Mr. Ratburn... this makes a lot of sense."

Twitter truly cannot get enough of the newlyweds. Specifically, Patrick and that wink. 

I think we just found the next Arthur meme in Mr. Ratburn's husband's wink. As one person points out on Twitter, "Mr. Ratburn’s husband is a whole entire mood." Mr. Ratburn and Patrick walked down the aisle, and to the children's amazement, he stopped to give them a sly wink. 

Throughout the whole episode, Arthur and his friends were concerned for Mr. Ratburn's future, but in the end, they were happy for their teacher.