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Headscratchers / Barney & Friends

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  • If Baby Bop is a Triceratops, why does she not have a beak and why the heck does she have ears like a cow?
    • Because they didn't want her to look scary with a horn coming out of her nose and forehead? That's why Barney doesn't have razor-sharp teeth and claws coming out of his hands and feet. It's a show aimed for toddlers.
  • And in that matter, how could B.J. and Riff be related to Baby Bop? They're clearly different species.
    • Genetic engineering. Curtesy of a generous grant from John Hammond and the folks at InGen.
    • Help me out with the timeline. In many viewings of the show when I was a little boy, I've seen Baby Bop and B.J. be child-size, then adult-size. What is going on here? Is time somehow passing for them, yet not affecting the other kids and Barney?
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    • BJ and Baby Bop both started out adult size, but shrunk in order to fit the character's ages better (seven and three, respectively). As for the interspecies dinosaur family thing, one can assume that BJ, Baby Bop, and/or Riff were adopted in a sense. Luckily, Barney doesn't have a family relationship to work with (in context, his friends are his family, as they bring him to life).
    • "Barney is a dinosaur from our imagination" that's how the theme song starts out. I think that clears up all your questions.
    • Personally, I've always thought of Barney as a Tyrannosaurus, B.J. and Baby Bop as Protoceratops and Riff as Saurolophus.
    • Word of God says that Baby Bop is a Triceratops, B.J. a Protoceratops, and Riff's a Hadrosaur.
  • Maybe I'm making this up, but wasn't there a time where Barney had these monstrously huge, human-like feet before they decided to shrink it to the size they are now? I remember seeing a Barney movie as a toddler, and seeing those feet creeped me out. Did they actually have something like this, or am I just making it up?
    • Confirmed. Definitely changed the feet size there.
    • I see. So they changed it because they realized it was too freaky for the kids? How long did Barney have those old creepy feet?
  • Why do people hate the show so much? A lot of people say it's because Barney looks creepy and he's always smiling. In that case, why isn't Big Bird or Mickey Mouse hated as bad? That never made sense to me.
    • The incredibly annoying voice might have something to do with it.
    • One of the problems with Barney is that it comes across as patronizingly dumb. Shows like Sesame Street don't talk down to kids, Barney talks down to kids. Barney is Tastes Like Diabetes, while Big Bird is just sweet. Carroll Spinney himself has gone on record criticizing the Barney franchise for exactly this reason.
    • Another issue could be that all or most of the "Barney kids" are much older than the show's target demographic. Of course, this has occurred with other kids' shows, too. Gabi of Sesame Street, for instance, has appeared on episodes for years. But unlike Sesame Street and other such shows, there is no intellectual line between Barney and the little kids vs. older cast members. Thus, it's pretty jarring, at least from an adult perspective, to see kids that are clearly in their early teens acting like songs and activities aimed at toddlers are genuinely fun/intriguing. (For instance, the kids who played Luci and Michael in the first few seasons did not leave the franchise until at least age 14).
      • To go along with that: You also have to consider Barney has no Periphery Demographic. With shows like Sesame Street Wishbone, or Arthur, for instance, there are plenty of things for adults to enjoy. Parodies, pop culture references, and references to works of literature and film meant for older audiences abound, even if the target audience doesn't "get it." With Barney and Friends, it's just teenagers dancing around with a guy in a dinosaur suit. As others have said, patronizingly dumb.
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    • As Nostalgia Critic said:
    Critic: So, looking at this eye-saurus after all these years, it is hitting me with more clarity why it's so easy to dislike him. One of the biggest reasons: he's creepy looking! When you compare him to, say, Disney characters or the Muppets, who spent years trying to perfect their designs, you can start to tell why. First off: the eyes. They're the most expressive part of the face, so either making them very large and complex or smaller and simpler can make a big difference. Barney's eyes are both big in the wrong way and small in the wrong way. The actual size of his eyes are tiny, but not simple enough to leave a gentle impact. Yet his pupils are huge and literally glassy, always looking dead, stoned, or possessed by Yoshi Satan! On top of that, his weird-ass teeth! Again, Disney and the Muppets rarely incorporated that much dental unless they wanted them to look intentionally weird. You probably noticed a big smile with a lot of teeth often comes across as domineering, or even a little scary. Heck, just look at this asshole! And not making them sharp, if anything, kinda makes it even more creepy. Remember when Sonic had normal-looking teeth? Remember when sharks were photoshopped with normal teeth? It didn't help anything; it just made shit scarier! So before Barney even says a word, you're already put off by him. But, books and covers and all that; maybe his personality has more charm than I remember.
    Barney: (standing in a bathtub) Towel, please!
    Critic: Well, Barney bathing naked in front of little kids is certainly a good start!
    Cody: Real dinosaurs don't laugh! (Cody laughs in a mocking tone) There aren't any real dinosaurs anymore!
    (The whole time Cody is talking, Barney just laughs)
    Critic: You know, maybe that's another big factor. I mean, that kid just insulted Barney and all he did was laugh! Which for some characters could work, but for Barney, you know he's just gonna be happy...and that's it. And believe it or not, even for little kids, that's not very relatable. Think about why other children's icons stayed with you: because they showed they were more than one emotion. Mister Rogers could talk about sad things like death, depression, difficult emotions.
    Daniel Tiger: What does "assassination" mean?
    Critic: Big Bird could feel awful when he finds out he's never gonna see someone ever again.
    Susan: When people die, they don't come back.
    Big Bird: Ever?
    Critic: It's not just one emotion a great children's character can express—it's a gamut of emotions that all kids feel.
    Fred Rogers: To understand those feelings, and to better respond to them, is what I feel is the most important task in our world.
    Critic: Barney would never feel sad, or angry, or confused. He was just happy all the time, which, after a while, comes across as phony and even kinda shallow. And don't get me wrong, I know it's weird to analyze something meant for, like, little little kids, but part of this analysis is figuring out why everyone else hated him so much. Part of that may be because we remember relating to other kids' media because it taught us how emotions and conflict work, as well as numbers and letters. And all they had to do was simply have more than one emotion. Imagine Barney having any other emotion other than happy. It would be crazy, because neither his physical nor emotional designs support it. He couldn't have the conversations they had on Sesame Street or Mister Rogers because there was so little to him. Imagine if he did; it'd just turn out insane!
    Critic!Barney: Hi, kids! What does "assassination" mean? Is that when someone gets killed in a surprise way? That's what happened, you know! That man killed that other man!
    Critic: I can't even keep going! It's just too uncomfortable to process! Yet Daniel Tiger—a sock puppet—does it and it feels more genuine because he isn't obnoxiously happy all the time! Kids can process their emotions as well as information without even knowing they're doing it, and Barney flat out rejects that. All of that, in my opinion, is why he gets on so many people's nerves.
    • Barney was unapologetically aimed at children as young as 18 months. An 18 month old child is going to be engaged with colours, shapes and music, not pertinent social issues. In this case, Barney did a perfectly good job at being a show strictly for toddlers that allowed them to explore movement, music, colours and shapes. Unfortunately, adults can have a certain sense of entitlement over shows not aimed directly at them. I’ve seen it happen in action with the My Little Pony fandom.
  • Barney's transformation from doll to living dinosaur is visible to the audience, but his transformation back into a doll is always unseen. What would his reversion into a doll look like if it was shown onscreen?
    • We do get to see the end of his reversion near the end of the Backyard Gang episode, "The Backyard Show", where he is seen in doll form sparkling a bit.
    • However, this was changed in the TV series, where the camera pans away from Barney as he bids the children farewell, and when it pans back to him, he is back in doll form with little to no explanation. No sound effects are even heard to signal his transformation back into a doll.


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