Arthur aires series finale after over 25 years on TV
On February 21, Arthur aired its series finale after over 25 years on television. In honour of the end of this fantastic show, PBS broadcast an Arthur marathon, covering the whole series over the course of 6 days of non-stop Arthur episodes.
At first glance, Arthur is nothing more than your average educational children’s cartoon. Each episode has one or more of our main characters facing a personal problem and teaches children life lessons such as healthy ways to cope with their emotions. Despite the show running for so many years, the episodes of the show canonically take place in the span of one calendar year and are usually not aired in any kind of in-universe chronological order. My dream is to one day compile an official timeline with each episode in the Arthur universe, but that’s a project for later. What has always drawn me back to Arthur is the show’s strong emotional appeal; it deals with serious subject matter in a way that is approachable to children, without talking down to them or sugarcoating serious issues.
I only watched 6 hours of the 6 day marathon, but one of the episodes I watched shows how different kids at Arthur’s school react to the news that their favourite cafeteria worker, Mrs. MacGrady, has been diagnosed with cancer. Arthur and D.W. are overly protective of Mrs. MacGrady, Muffy pretends that Mrs. MacGrady is guaranteed to make a full recovery and that everyone is overreacting, and Francine is too scared to see her friend now that she is so sick. The show uses its vast catalogue of characters to showcase scenarios that would be relatable to all different kinds of children, and that’s where the show has really always thrived.
I have not seen every single episode of Arthur, but I grew up with the show and admittedly have continued to watch it as I’ve entered adulthood. I genuinely believe that Arthur has been a consistently great show throughout its entire run because whenever I’ve tuned in to an episode—no matter when it aired or in what year it was made, it was always a good episode. Whenever I tell people that I think Arthur is a perfect show, I talk about seeing the episode “The Case of the Girl with the Long Face” when it first aired in 2014. Spoiler alert! The episode is about Buster and George following their friend Fern around town so they can figure out why she has been so sad recently, and the episode ends with Fern explaining that sometimes she “just has bad days for no particular reason.” The episode is so masterfully done, especially Fern’s full monologue at the end, and it perfectly explains mental health and mental illness in a way that is accessible to any viewer. It is very telling to me that out of all 454 existing Arthur episodes, only FIVE have ever been pulled from TV since their original airing, and three of those five were pulled just because they featured Lance Armstrong!
While I am sad that Arthur is done for good, PBS has promised that new Arthur content will still go up on their website, including a podcast starring all our favourite characters! I will forever be grateful to have gotten to grow up alongside this show, and hope that my generation will continue to appreciate Arthur as the brilliant piece of media that it is for years to come.