A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is turning 50 this year…
And, along with the milestone birthday, it’s serving up a bit of controversy.
At the heart of the controversy is Franklin, the only main black character in Peanuts.
When you watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, does anything stand out as a little weird to you?
During the big Thanksgiving feast scene, when the Peanuts gang sits down to toast, sundaes, jelly beans, and popcorn, Franklin is relegated to his own side of the table, seated in a beach chair.
Everyone else gets a “real” dining chair, while poor Franklin sits by himself in a fold-up chair designed for sun and sand.
He’s definitely still part of the group, but he’s also obviously segregated from the rest of the group, and people have things to say.
While this seems like an obvious dig at Franklin, Schulz’s widow, Jean Schulz, defended her husband over Franklin’s role in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
She said the choice to have Franklin on his own side of the table — in a lowly beach chair — wouldn’t have been a creative choice by Charles Schulz — the creator of Peanuts.
The director parcels out the scenes to the animators, and the animators who drew that scene aren’t alive anymore or we don’t know how to find them.Jean Schulz
As a kid, I probably watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving 50+ times, and I never saw the problem — it never stood out to me.
But, as an adult, I see the obvious distinction between the Peanuts gang and Franklin.
While it can’t be known now which animator drew that particular scene, you can be sure there was no ulterior motive. — I fall back on Peppermint Patty’s apology to Charlie Brown explaining she meant no harm when she criticized his poor Thanksgiving offering, which goes something like: ‘There are enough problems in the world already without these misunderstandings.’ To suggest the show had any other messages than the importance of family, sharing and gratitude is to look for an issue where there is none.Jean Schulz
What are your feelings on the Franklin controversy?
You can currently catch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving streaming on Apple TV+.
Non-subscribers will be able to watch it for free on AppleTV+ on Nov. 18-19.