Screenshot: ‘Teletubbies,’ Netflix

Get behind us, Tinky Winky!

It feels like everyone is coming for the Teletubbies now that Netflix has shared a first look at its upcoming reboot of the British children’s series: “They’re too gay!,” “They’re not gay enough!,” “They messed with the mythology!,” “They’re bringing up traumatic childhood memories!”

How about you just mind your own business and let the Teletubbies… um… wait, what is it that the Teletubbies do again?

Created by British TV veterans Anne Wood and Andrew Davenport and aimed at a pre-K audience, Teletubbies premiered on the BBC in 1997, arriving to American airwaves the following year and subsequently becoming an international phenomenon. The original run of the series was five seasons long, with 365 episodes total—that’s a Teletubby for every day of the year!

With no plot to be found, the series simply follows the day-to-day lives of four babbling creatures who frolic across what is almost certainly a post-apocalyptic oasis and watch little videos via the screens on their tummies. Honestly? Work!

Related: Hiding in plain sight: 10 of the queerest cartoon characters ever

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and, no, we don’t mean the Teletubbies’ subterranean home, a.k.a. the “Tubbytronic Superdome”), you’re likely familiar with the series’ quartet of characters: There’s Dipsy (the green one), Laa-Laa (the yellow one), Po (the red one), and Tinky Winky (the gay one—well, maybe. It depends who you ask, but more on that in a minute.)

In any event, Netflix has brought the Teletubbies back from the dead cancellation for a new series that will drop on their Netflix Jr. platform on November 14. The streamer really doesn’t appear to have messed with the classic formula, aside from a new look for the Sun Baby (who we presume is some sort of god to the Teletubbies?), and the addition of Broadway star Titus Burgess (also of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fame) as the narrator, putting those famous pipes to good use.

Still, after the new Teletubbies trailer made its way to Twitter, all hell broke loose. Have a look for yourself… if you dare!

So, yeah, it seems harmless enough, right? WRONG. Folks are coming from every corner of the internet to file their complaints about the Teletubbies’ return, shouting about everything from the Sun Baby’s new look to the revival’s mere existence:

We think—nay, we hope and pray—the above reactions are being ironic. But you never know!

That time Jerry Falwell came for Tinky Winky

All this furor had us taking a trip down memory lane, back to a faraway land called “1999” when most Americans were meeting the Teletubbies for the first time. But even in the nascent stages of Teletubby-mania, the colorful characters were causing outrage, particularly the triangle-topped Tinky Winky.

It was that year that the late Reverend Jerry Falwell—fresh off his attacks on Ellen Degeneres (who he dubbed “Ellen Degenerate” after she came out)—decided to set his sites on Teletubbies. He specifically saw Tinky Winky as a threat to heterosexuality, claiming the character to be gay because “he is purple, the gay pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle: the gay pride symbol.”

Falwell warned that Tinky Winky could be a “gay role model” (derogatory, in his view), a covert symbol of homosexuality used to subliminally recruit young viewers into the gay community. To Falwell, there was nothing worse than thought of a young boy coveting Tinky Winky’s chic signature handbag.

Related: So, like, did the Teletubbies just come out?

In the end, Falwell’s fear-mongering only helped to bring more eyes to the Teletubbies, making them some of the most universally recognizable pop culture figures at the turn of the millennium.

In an official response to Falwell, The BBC released a statement claiming that “Tinky Winky is simply a sweet, technological baby with a magic bag.” Itsy-Bitsy Entertainment—the production company behind the series—followed suit, “He’s not gay. He’s not straight. He’s just a character in a children’s series.”

With the Teletubbies’ impending return on Netflix, many are remembering the wave of gay panic brought about by the original series and are bracing themselves for an even messier “Round 2”:

https://twitter.com/AmyDentata/status/1582489266642616320

https://twitter.com/Scholarofthe1st/status/1582760199827644416

Wake up, Teletubbies! It’s time to get dressed for the culture war!

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