The ongoing trend of children’s shows featuring LGBTQ characters continued recently during an episode for the “Clifford the Big Red Dog” reboot.
“The beloved animated show ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ in recent weeks became the second PBS Kids series with a recurring LGBT character when one of Emily Elizabeth’s friends brought her two moms to a dinner party,” reports Christian Headlines. “It was rebooted by PBS and Amazon Prime last year with new animation and new voices. It is within this reboot that two lesbian characters were introduced – although it may not be obvious to many children.”
The episode, titled “The Big Red Tomato/Dogbot,” introduced the lesbian couple when Emily’s friend, Samantha, invites her “two moms” to an outdoor dinner party she’s hosting.
“Won’t you please join us?” Emily Elizabeth asks.
“It would be our pleasure,” one of the women replies. “Oooh, something smells delicious!”
The two characters, Dr. Mulberry and Ms. Mulberry, appear in several episodes in which Samantha refers to them both as “Mom.”
“In other episodes, Samantha calls each of the women ‘Mom,'” continued Christian Headlines. “In the episode titled ‘The Birdwell Island Blues/The Big Red World,’ she calls Dr. Mulberry ‘Mom,’ and in ‘Making Lemonade Out of Lemons/The Watering Hole,’ she calls Ms. Mulberry ‘Mom.'”
LGBTQ representation in children’s shows has been on the uptick this past decade, beginning in 2014 on the Disney show “Good Luck Charlie,” which featured a lesbian mom couple.
“In the storyline, parents Amy and Bob Duncan (Leigh-Allyn Baker and Eric Allan Kramer) set up a playdate for preschooler Charlie (Mia Talerico) and one of her new friends,” TV Guide reported at the time. “When the kid arrives, the Duncans learn that Charlie’s pal has two moms. That’s fine, but the potential new friendship is put to the test as one mom chats with Amy, and the other is stuck listening to Bob’s dull stories.”
In 2019, the PBS television show “Arthur” made waves when a beloved character came out as gay by marrying his male partner. That was later followed by the Disney show “Andi Mack” featuring the first teenage gay couple on the network, which was then followed by the “Rocko’s Modern Life” reboot featuring a transgender storyline.
Last year, Maria Vera Whelan, the senior director of marketing, communications and social media for children’s media and education at PBS, defended the network’s decision to include LGBTQ characters in response to backlash from some parenting groups.
“PBS Kids programs are designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation,” said Whelan. “We believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS Kids every day.”
Disney will also be breaking new ground this Friday with the release of “Onward” – the studio’s first animated movie to feature an openly LGBTQ character. The character, voiced by Lena Waithe, will be a lesbian police officer whose sexuality will be explicitly pointed out in the movie as opposed to just being implied, such as the alleged lesbian couple in “Finding Dory” or the “exclusively gay moment” in the “Beauty and the Beast” live-action remake.