‘I love you, you hate me’ review: Peacock’s Dr. Barney takes a look back at how Dino induces acceptance, inspires disdain

Listen, we’re in this together, so if a particular song is going to play in my head as I write this review, it can race around the audio loop in your memory as well as you read it:

I love you

you love Me

We are a happy family

With a big big hug

And a kiss from me to you

Wouldn’t you say you love me too?

Sorry. It will eventually disappear. Just like Barney did.

I love you you hate me

During the 1990s and 2000s, “Barney & Friends” was a dominant purple force in children’s television, entertaining millions of children with its simple songs and positive messages while winning parents’ gratitude for keeping them occupied — but also creating one of the sharpest backlashes in history. popular culture. In the two-part documentary series “I Love You, You Hate Me” from Peacock, we revisit Barney’s upbringing and watch with astonishment a great American success story turn into a dark and terrifying story, not only on the TV show, but for the family of the person responsible for bringing in the grandiose dinosaurs huge to this world.

Director Tommy Avalon has a passion for graphics and visuals in the style of the late ’80s/early ’90s (over and over again, we see VHS tapes inserted into VCRs), and begins the series with a flash graphic that tells us: “In 1988, SHERYL LEACH MONSTER was created… Official credit for creation” Barney” as a TV show split between Cathy Parker, Dennis Deschzer, and Leitch—but as the song “I Love You” makes clear, it was Leitch who devised the concept in the late 1980s, when she was looking for something to entertain her two-year-old son, Patrick.

Leach wrote a number of initial treats for a show that featured various toys coming to life, and Barney was originally a teddy bear—but after she took her son to a traveling dinosaur exhibit who passed through Dallas and saw his face light up, Barney became a purple dinosaur. Original lead writer Pat Ryder tells us he envisioned Barney as a wise character similar to Bruce Willis in “Overtime,” but Reader was fired during the rewriting process, and even in the relatively first few “Barney” VHS tapes, the character was right there: a big, stupid dinosaur, Smiling and not scary for sure it was all about love, acceptance, happiness, and tolerance.

We hear from the likes of Sloane Coleman, who came up with the idea for Barney’s birthday parties and pioneered the marketing of highly successful live shows, and Larry Rifkin, who was Head of Programming at Connecticut Public Television and was instrumental in helping Barney go nationwide. We see archival footage of kids going crazy at Barney’s live shows. We meet Bob West, who gave the voice to Barney, and former child actors Pia Hamilton, Hope Cervantes and Lea Montes, who speak fondly of their time on the show and rightly note how “Barney & Friends” celebrates diversity and unity.

What could possibly go wrong? Let’s count the ways.


Pia Hamilton and former “Barney & Friends” cast members share happy memories of “I Love You, You Hate Me”.

Even early on, there was resentment of those irritating songs and those relentlessly cheerful messages. “It has been difficult for many adults to watch because he has always been an optimist…meaning he is unrealistic,” notes Bill Nye (you know, man of science). As Barney’s popularity soared in the ’90s, culture took a cynical turn, from David Letterman’s comedy “Beavis and Butt Head” to the rise of gruesome confrontational talk shows like “Jerry Springer.”

Barney was mocked by “Wayne’s World” and the “X-Files. There was a Barney-bashing event at the University of Nebraska, a newsletter titled “I Hate Barney” and a role-playing game called “Jihad to Destroy Barney the Purple Dinosaur.” Rumors spread of Barney as a cult leader and Barney Kids prey on.The San Diego Chicken made a regular routine of beating a Barney lookalike, to the cheers of the crowd.

In the second part of the series, we see how the massive success of “Barney & Friends” became a double-edged sword for the Leach family. As Patrick grew up, he became resentful of being Barney’s “brother” and battled a number of personal demons. When Patrick was 14 years old, his parents divorced; When he was 18 years old, his father committed suicide. In 2013, when Patrick was 27, he got into a standoff with a neighbor in Malibu and shot the man in the chest. Patrick was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempted murder. (Neither Cheryl nor Patrick are currently interviewed for the documentary.)

“Barney & Friends” was canceled in 2010, but there’s no denying the indelible memories it created for generations of younger viewers — and when we look back through the “I love you, you hate me” filter, it seems ridiculous that a show could spark Disturbing TV kids like this vitriol from adults in certain places. “Barney would never have argued that the world was a perfect place,” says Stephen White, lead writer on the show from 1992-2005. “He was arguing that it could become a better place if everyone tried to make it a better place.”

And for that he was beaten.

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