WGBH / PBS KIDS
This Week in Family
After 22 years, Mr. Ratburn, the feared but beloved schoolteacher on PBS’s Arthur, finally got married. What made this “very special episode” so special is the fact that a gay wedding wasn’t presented as an unusual or remarkable teaching moment. “The show treated it as a joyous celebration of a happy relationship, and so did viewers,” write Ashley Fetters and Natalie Escobar. Although the depiction of same-sex couples and LGBTQ characters on children’s television has a way to go, Mr. Ratburn’s wedding marks one more milestone for positive and normalizing representation.
In this week’s installment of The Friendship Files: the story of how Norman Mineta and Alan Simpson met as Boy Scouts and reconnected decades later as congressmen. In the 1940s, Mineta’s family was sent to a Japanese internment camp in Wyoming, not far from where Simpson lived. Nearly 40 years later, the two worked together across political parties to pass the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which prompted the federal government to formally apologize for the internment of Japanese Americans.
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Centuries ago, long-distance relationships entailed the occasional handwritten (and sometimes raunchy) love letter. Decades ago, they meant the infrequent but expensive (adjusted for inflation, $26 a minute!) telephone call. Now couples who live in different cities, states, or countries can see each other at a moment’s notice. Thanks to smartphone apps, they can watch TV together, or leave each other on a video call as background noise. Today, for the educated, professional class in particular, modern technology has enabled people to pursue their career goals independently while staying in a relationship that transcends geography.
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