People of a certain age will remember the wonderous day of preschoolers fixated on that lovable, singing and dancing purple dinosaur on Barney & Friends. Airing on PBS from 1992 to 2010 (and in repeats for another eight years on the former cable network Sprout and its successor, Universal Kids), the world of Barney was inescapable. Merchandizing sales were through the roof as Baby Bop and DJ would teach up kids to clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere.
While it’s easy to have fond memories of days when life was easy and imagination came to life, there was also the darker side to PBS fame. In the two-part limited series, I Love You, You Hate Me, it tells the other side of Barney the Dinosaur people often forget or are too young to remember.
I Love You, You Hate Me unpacks how a children’s character who stood for inclusion, understanding, and kindness birthed a movement of anger and criticism that threatened the show, its creators, and their futures,” said Joel Chiodi, Head of Documentaries and SVP of Strategic Development at Scout Productions in a statement. “As it spotlights the beginnings of modern-day hate culture, this documentary traces the creation of the character and how it took a toll on the people closest to it, examining the surprising and lingering impact the ‘Big Purple Dinosaur’ left on American society.”
“Barney came out on television when I was just 10 years old, and I admittedly didn’t understand him,” said director Tommy Avallone. “As a teenager, for one of my birthdays I asked my aunt to make me a Barney costume, so my friends and I could beat him up on camera. Several years later, creating this docuseries, it feels good to be on the other side and no longer a Barney hater. Now having children of my own, I understand all the love that went into making the purple dinosaur.”
Barney performer Bob West recalls threats from that time: “They were violent and explicit, death and dismemberment of my family. They were gonna come and find me, and they were going to kill me.”
As seen in the trailer above, the documentary also promises to dive into rumors surrounding the show — even ones as outlandish sounding as “Barney hides drugs in his tail.”
Barney & Friends debuted in 1992, born out of the minds of Sheryl Leach, Kathy Parker and Dennis DeShazer. The show notably launched the careers of such luminaries as Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez.
I Love You, You Hate Me hits Peacock October 12th.