Barney & Friends was a television phenomenon — but somewhere along the way, it became a catalyst for hate.
Peacock's upcoming docuseries I Love You, You Hate Me is breaking down the threats of violence and ruthless rumors that swirled around the beloved children's show.
"As [creator Sheryl Leach's] beloved character was heading into the stratosphere, people couldn't accept that this was just a show. And so, let the bashing begin," former Barney David Joyner says.
Chris Haston/Hit Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection
"Why does the world love to hate?" the trailer asks, giving wild examples of the growing backlash against Barney after it debuted in 1992.
"Some of the rumors I heard: Barney hides drugs in his tail," says one man in the teaser.
But the hatred for the show wasn't confined to rumors: Bob West, another performer who played the jolly purple dinosaur, detailed death threats against his entire family.
"They were violent and explicit, death and dismemberment of my family," he recounted. "They were gonna come and find me, and they were going to kill me."
Hit Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection
The documentary is a personal one for director Tommy Avallone.
Avallone recalled in a statement to PEOPLE: "Barney came out on television when I was just 10 years old, and I admittedly didn't understand him. 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."
The statement continued, "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."
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I Love You, You Hate Me is set to premiere Oct. 12 on Peacock.