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‘Arthur’ creator explains the aardvark's racial identity

The long-running PBS animated series ended this week after 25 seasons on the air.
/ Source: TODAY

It's the end of an era: PBS aired the final episode of "Arthur," the longest-running children's animated show this week.

And as the kids of Lakewood Elementary are now "All Grown Up" — as the series' aptly named finale episode says — the show's creator, author Marc Brown, is opening up about some of the more adult topics that the hit series was known for tackling.

In a recent interview with Variety, Brown explained that even though racial identity has been established in the "Arthur" universe — for example, Brain's family is from Senegal and celebrates Kwanzaa — he didn't assign a specific race to the lead character.

"You know, I myself didn’t really put a race on Arthur. That would be my honest answer," he told the outlet in response to the writer asking if Brown had thought about making the famous aardvark Black.

Arthur the aardvark is beloved by a generation of children (and parents).
Arthur the aardvark is beloved by a generation of children (and parents).PBS

Despite that, Brown said he hears from children and adults alike "all the time" that they believe the aardvark to be Black.

Brown added that he loved to be able to walk "into a school in Harlem and talk to the kids, and they all think (Arthur's) Black."

"And we don’t have to really discuss it. It’s just there. I hear it all the time, and I love it," he said.

He said he loves that about the show.

"And the magic that all of these characters happening to be animals levels the playing field. And any child can walk into a story and feel an affinity with any of the characters that they want to identify with," he explained. "That was just this incredible bonus that happened with 'Arthur.'"

Despite the show ending, Brown promised that this isn't the end for the show's titular character and his gaggle of friends.

"Podcasts, and new games that we can invent; we want to continue doing public service spots on PBS, maybe specials!" he told Variety this week. "The door is open to us to try new things with PBS. It’s fun to solve new puzzles!"