‘Everybody Loves Raymond’: Fans Have a Theory About Why Marie Barone Hates Debra Barone

On the surface, Everybody Loves Raymond appears to be a fairly benign show about the trials and tribulations of married life. A dysfunctional and too-close-for-comfort extended family is thrown in for added interest. Some fans, however, think there might be a more scandalous explanation for that familial dysfunction. A fan theory suggests that Ray and Debra Barone’s children are the results of an affair, and that might be why Marie Barone, Ray’s mother, is so awful to Debra. 

‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ fans notice that the Barone kids don’t look like their parents 

Everybody Loves Raymond fans have noticed something strange about the family structure. While Debra and Ray are brunettes with dark eyes, all three of their children are blonde with blue eyes. Ray’s brother, Robert Barone, also has dark hair, and it’s assumed both Frank and Marie were brunettes as younger adults. Debra’s parents are harder to figure out, though. Debra’s mother was a redhead, but her father’s hair had gone completely grey by the time fans met him.

Even if Warren Whalen were a natural blond, it would still be unlikely for Debra and Ray to have multiple fair-haired children. If Debra and Ray had blond recessive genes, they only had a 25% chance of having a blond child. Healthline notes that it might be a bit more complicated than that, though. Still, it seems unlikely that all the Barone kids would be fair-haired, with neither parent displaying the trait. 

There is a real-life reason the kids all looked like each other, though. The actors who played Ally, Geoffery, and Michael Barone are siblings. Madilyn Sweeten portrayed Ally. Her younger twin brothers, Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten, portrayed Geoffrey and Michael Barone, respectively. The elder Sweeten was five when the series started. Sawyer and Sullivan were just toddlers when they landed their parts. Sawyer Sweeten died in 2015. 

Could an affair explain why Marie Barone hates Debra Barone? 

Fans have always noticed that Ally, Geoffrey, and Michael didn’t look a ton like Debra and Raymond, but is it the reason Marie disliked Debra? Some fans think so. A fan theory suggests that Marie disliked Debra because she knew the Barone kids were not Ray’s biological children. According to the fan theory, all three of Ray and Debra’s children resulted from an affair that Debra had with a fair-haired man. Somehow, the theory suggests, Marie was privy to that information, but Ray was not. 

Peter Boyle, Doris Roberts, Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Monica Horan, and Brad Garrett pose for a promotional photo for ' Everybody Loves Raymond '
The cast of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ | Monty Brinton/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Ray himself even questioned the paternity of his children once. In the season 6 episode “The Breakup Tape,” Ray questions the paternity of his children when he finds out Debra has kept mementos from her past relationship. He even drew a connection between their blond hair and the blond hair of Debra’s ex. 

Wouldn’t Marie Barone have told Raymond that the children weren’t biologically his, though? 

Fans who are skeptical about the theory have some questions. Namely, they wonder why Marie wouldn’t have just told Ray. Proponents of the idea argue that Marie could have thought she was acting in Ray’s best interest. In short, they believe that Marie didn’t want to upset Raymond and thought Debra, despite her flaws, made him happy. That, defenders argue, would be enough to keep her quiet. There is some evidence to back up that thought process, too. 

Marie was mostly kind to Robert Barone’s ex-wife, Joann, even though she hated her. In a flashback episode, Marie revealed that she thought she was keeping Joann’s background a secret from Robert because she believed he was happy. Once she realized he was unhappy in his marriage and that Joann was leaving him, she spilled the beans. 

It was of no consequence; Robert already knew that Joann worked as an exotic dancer before their marriage. Still, the revelation can be used as proof that Marie would keep a big secret from her son if she thought it was in his best interest. A secret as big as the paternity of children might be a different story, though.