Barney & Friends

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Barney the dinosaur

Barney & Friends is a children's television show produced in the United States, mainly aimed at preschoolers, starring a large purple dinosaur named Barney. Although beloved by its target demographic, it has a reputation of being somewhat tedious for older people to watch. Barney, with his magenta body complete with a green underbelly and yellow toenails, was created in 1987 by Sheryl Leach of Dallas, Texas as an attempt to entertain her son during long car trips and traffic jams. She created her own videos, which were picked up by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). The show became a megahit after debuting on PBS in 1992. The show was taped at the Lyrick Studios facility at Greenville Avenue & Bethany Drive in Allen, Texas from 1992 to 2002. The TV series and videotapes are distributed by Hit Entertainment.

The show is criticized as being excessively sappy and optimistic with its song lyrics like, "With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you/Won't you say you love me too?", as well as the often overexaggerated delivery of its young actors, which have sometimes made it the target of parody. After the show debuted on PBS in 1992, vicious song parodies and editorial cartoons showing Barney getting killed soon broke out (the most popular of which being "I Hate You", which is still a favorite at elementary schools everywhere). Barney has even been the target of many cartoons in negative way (many older children's cartoons and even The Simpsons have been reported for making fun of it) Despite this criticism and ridicule, the show is still one of the most popular young children's television shows.

In the many episodes, Barney's human friends bring him to life and play many games with him. Aside from many human actors of a highly diverse ethnic mix, Barney's friends include other plush dinosaurs, such as Baby Bop and her brother, B.J.. They sing songs with simple lyrics and typically repetitive melodies that teach the alphabet, counting, etiquette, colors, good friendship, and the value of imagination. Unlike the previous crownholder of children's television, Sesame Street, every word spoken in "Barney & Friends" is completely accessible to kids and the writers do not throw in witty lines and sophisticated cultural references to amuse the adults in the audience. Every episode begins with its opener sung to the tune of "Yankee Doodle" and ends with a rendition of "I Love You", the song that has become a signature of the show, with its melody lifted from "This Old Man" and lyrics penned by Lee Bernstein. Trademark sayings associated with the show include Barney's "Super-dee-duper!" and Tina (played by child actor Jessica Zucha)'s overdramatized "That's greaaat, Barney!"

A Barney toy played a surprising role in the 2000 Canadian federal election. On a political panel on CTV network morning show Canada AM, Liberal Party activist Warren Kinsella criticized Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day's fundamentalist religious beliefs. "I just want to remind Mr. Day that The Flintstones was not a documentary," he said, before producing a large stuffed Barney toy. "And this is the only dinosaur that recently co-existed with humans." While the stunt offended some, the subtext that religious conservatism might find expression in Day's public policy alarmed other Canadians.


Anti-Barney humor

Main article: Anti-Barney Humor

Many entertainment icons have been accused of using Anti-Barney humor, including...

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