Loved by pre-school audiences in the UK, US, Australia and Latin America, Peppa Pig is arguably one of the most recognisable – and popular – cartoon animals in the world.
It is perhaps no wonder, then, that the programme’s decision to introduce its first same-sex couple has made waves.
During an episode titled Families, which first aired on Tuesday on Channel 5 in the UK, where Peppa Pig is made, the eponymous character was introduced to friend Penny Polar Bear’s mothers.
While drawing a portrait of her family, Penny explained: “I live with my mummy and my other mummy. One mummy is a doctor and one mummy cooks spaghetti.”
The programme, created by British animators Mark Baker and Neville Astley, has been running since 2004. This is the first time in its 18-year history a same-sex couple has been featured.
It comes two years after a petition was created on a US-based website, demanding a “same-sex parent family on Peppa Pig”. It has garnered almost 24,000 signatures.
“Children watching Peppa Pig are at an impressionable age,” the creators of the petition wrote. “Excluding same-sex families will teach them that only families with either a single parent or two parents of different sexes are normal.”
Robbie de Santos, director of communications and external affairs at LGBT rights charity Stonewall, described seeing a same-sex family in fictional Peppatown as “fantastic”.
“Many of those who watch the show will have two mums or two dads themselves and it will mean a lot to parents and children that their experiences are being represented on such an iconic children’s programme,” he told the BBC.
Peppa Pig is by no means the first children’s programme to feature same-sex couples. US cartoon Arthur, aimed at four to eight-year-olds, won praise back in 2019 after it showed a gay wedding during its 22nd series.
At the time, Maria Vera Whelan of PBS KIDS – where Arthur ran until it ended earlier this year – said in a statement PBS believed it was “important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children”.
Other popular cartoons to have touched on LGBT relationships have included Adventure Time and Steven Universe – both are also from the US but aimed at audiences aged 10 and above.
Following the latest episode of Peppa Pig, Twitter was alive with debate about the introduction of Penny Polar Bear’s family. “Lesbians in Peppa Pig… can’t kids shows just be for kids?” one man wrote, accusing the show of “box-ticking”.
Another disagreed, saying: “Well what do you know? My kids saw the first same-sex couple on Peppa Pig and the world didn’t end.”