WGBH is 'disappointed' by bawdy humor on social media
Credit: PBS

In recent days, the bespectacled aardvark at at the center of the animated kids series Arthur has become an unlikely poster child for modern-day frustration, thanks to a series of irreverent memes that have taken the internet by storm.

But in spite of the newfound viral appeal, the network behind Arthur is less than thrilled that some social media users have combined the show’s wholesome characters with explicit humor and profane language.

“We appreciate the memes that have been created and shared in good fun,” a spokesperson for WGBH in Boston said in a statement Wednesday. “We are, however, disappointed by the few that are outside of good taste.”

While Arthur has been airing on PBS stations for nearly 20 years, it captivated social media users last week when an enterprising meme maker singled out an image of the cartoon aardvark’s clenched fist, highlighting its comic potential as a symbol of discontentment.

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Although many of the resulting Arthur memes tackled everyday annoyances — perceived slights, family arguments, workplace drama — some featured bawdy humor involving sex, drugs, violence, and race.

WGBH said that while the network is “lucky to have a fan base that is so engaged with Arthur, especially those millennials who grew up with him,” it also hopes “that Arthur and his friends will be depicted in a way that is respectful and appropriate for all audiences, including young Arthur fans and their families.”

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