Queer representation in children’s animation has always served a purpose: on Arthur, Buster having two moms was less about pushing an agenda than reflecting the many different kinds of life a kid/bunny rabbit can have. After a push from fans, British Channel 5 series Peppa Pig introduced its first-ever queer couple, multiple outlets report. The duo, the parents of character Penny Polar Bear, represents one childhood reality: sometimes, kids have two mummies, one of whom makes spaghetti and one of whom is a doctor.
In a Tuesday episode titled “Families,” Penny introduces her parents via a drawing project where she depicts her family. Penny’s parents are two polar bears with dresses, one in glasses. Penny says: “I’m Penny Polar Bear. I live with my mommy and my other mommy. One mommy is a doctor and one mommy cooks spaghetti. I love spaghetti.” Penny’s family proves it—opposites attract!
The episode naturally left some clutching their pearls, oddly more horrified at the “indoctrination” of including same-sex parents than Penny reading her life-saving doctor mommy for filth with the three words “I love spaghetti.” But the call for representation on Peppa Pig has been consistent, and in 2019 a petition from fans to include a same-sex couple gained traction—it now has 23,892 signatures.
“Children watching Peppa Pig are at an impressionable age, and excluding same-sex families will teach them that only families with either a single parent or two parents of different sexes are normal,” the petition reads. “This means that children of same-sex parents may feel alienated by Peppa Pig, and that other children may be more likely to bully them, simply through ignorance. Peppa Pig is not just for entertainment, children are inevitably learning from it too.”
The petition, which so far has 23,892 signatures, seems to have had its main demands met (although the door certainly shouldn’t be closed to even more queerness in Peppa-land.) But petition signees should also be careful what they wish for: this new character introduction runs a real risk of alienating the valuable, esteemed fans of the show who don’t like spaghetti.