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I Love You, You Hate Me Review: A Fascinating Exploration Into Barney’s Dark History

Barney… for most, hearing the mere utterance of that name immediately conjures images of a happy, purple dinosaur with a vibrant smile. For years Barney and Friends was a permanent resident, living on the screens of any household with a child five years or younger. The slow lull of “I love you, you love me” sung through the nasally voice of it’s titular dinosaur was a double edged sword.

To children it was a soothing melody with words of affirmation and acceptance. To parents, a mind numbingly simplistic tune that played on an endlessly cyclical loop. At least ‘Baby Shark’ is upbeat and catchy! I Love You, You Love Me explores the polar ends of Barney fandom while shining a light on the darker history to the character in a fascinating, two part docuseries, streaming on Peacock.

I Love You, You Hate Me explores the darker side of Barney

Tickle Me Elmo, Beanie Babies and Barney: The holy trinity of pop culture phenomena that rocked the worlds of children (and adults). While grown men and women were fighting each other to get their hands on the unbelievably popular bean filled, stuffed animals, others were turning their aggressions to the purple dinosaur himself. “Barney Bashing,” as it was known, was the act of attacking the childhood icon, both verbally and physically.

Toys, drawings and pinatas depicting Barney’s likeness were punched, stabbed and shot as crowds exchanged high fives through roars of cheers and laughter. Filmmaker Tommy Avallone (The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man) uses actual footage, shot on grainy VHS, to contrast  the children show’s overly enthusiastic messages of love. The hatred for the dinosaur was contagious. Growing up, I would pretend to hate the show, while secretly watching it from the hallway as my younger brother sat cross legged in the living room glued to the screen.

I had the chance to speak with Tommy Avallone, and I told him about my experiences and memories of faux hatred. Tommy was quick to tell me how often he’d heard that while doing his research for the docuseries. It seems I wasn’t alone in my desperate attempts to seem cool by “hating” the happiest character on television. While my hatred may have been a show, the hatred was real for millions. But why? Why was there so much hatred for this character that clubs and gatherings were orchestrated with the soul purpose of organized Barney Bashing?

Bob West, the original voice of Barney

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To explore that question Tommy goes to roots, bringing in the very actors who wore the suit and voiced the dinosaur to give their first hand accounts of how it all began. I Love You, You Hate Me is a must watch for 90’s kids. Those of us who grew up attending Barney birthday parties. Those of us who had to pretend to hate the show to fit in. Whether you were a Barney Basher or die hard fan, I Love You, You Hate Me is a fun and fascinating look into a character whose popularity rivaled that of Elvis Presley, and whose name will forever be remembered for his messages of love and acceptance. 8.5/10

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the FandomWire review based Podcast, Cinema Stubs.

Twitter: @MrMovieGuy86 Instagram: @MrMovieGuy86