“iCarly” aired on Nickelodeon from 2007 to 2012, spanning five seasons. The premise of the show revolved around Carly Shay (Miranda Cosgrove) and her friends Sam Puckett (Jennette McCurdy) and Freddie Benson (Nathan Kress) starting a web show together. Chaos ensues as they try to balance high school with internet fame, chaperoned only by Carly’s older brother, Spencer (Jerry Trainor).
While the original iteration began at the dawn of the internet as websites like YouTube were only just rising in prominence, the reboot takes place during a time when social media is more popular than ever.
The Paramount Plus revival finds Carly, Spencer and Freddie living in the Bushwell Plaza apartment complex again, 10 years after the original series took place. She’s moved back to the Bushwell Apartment Complex, except now she has her own place that she shares with her roommate and best friend, Harper Raines (Laci Mosley). Spencer and Freddie are not far behind her, both still taking residency in the building as well.
Since the end of the show’s initial run, Spencer has become extremely wealthy after selling his art. Freddie, however, has moved back in with his mother after two divorces and a failed startup. He’s also an adoptive father to Millicent (Jaidyn Triplett), the daughter of one of his ex-wives.
The first episode, “iStart Over,” begins with Carly being dumped by her boyfriend on the night she thought he would propose that they start a channel together. To make things worse, she livestreams the entire incident to “iCarly” followers, hoping to reinvigorate her popularity online.
While the abrupt breakup knocks her off her feet, Carly remains determined to make a return online after years of doing Italian QVC and college radio. She does, however, have her doubts about the idea of making a comeback, primarily worried that she won’t be able to host her web show without Sam (who is absent after joining a biker gang). After a failed attempt to find another co-host, Freddie encourages her to restart the channel on her own to explore her independence. She agrees, the only condition being that Freddie resumes his role as tech producer.
The old studio remains the same on the top floor of Spencer’s apartment, containing many beloved props such as the colorful wiener dogs and Sam’s cowboy mustache. Carly even finds the crib from the Baby Spencer skit, much to the dismay of Spencer, who exclaims “Damn it!” upon its unveiling (this use of language gained a lot of attention from fans online, many of whom were shocked to hear a character from their childhood swearing).
The revival keeps the light tone of its predecessor, still loaded up on quirky humor and physical comedy. It’s also not afraid to poke fun or satirize everything that makes the internet outrageous, such as memes, cancel culture and couples that share YouTube channels. Hijinks ensue in each episode of the show as Carly re-emerges online — wacky art shows, fashion fests and even more antics galore, all in the familiar Bushwell Plaza.
The biggest changes in the series come with the new members of the cast, Harper and Millicent.
Harper is an outstanding addition. She’s a phenomenal friend to Carly, always willing to help further her online presence through business endeavors or push her to try something new. Harper also has ambitions of her own, as she aspires to be a stylist.
Millicent brings a tech-savvy tween perspective to the show, always prepared to school her older counterparts on how the internet works in the modern age. Her relationship with Freddie mirrors that of Carly and Spencer in the original series’s early seasons.
Before the premiere of the series, the reaction to the first cast photo featuring Mosley and Triplett was sour. Many fans were upset that Carly would have a new best friend in the series instead of Sam. However, there is a reason for Sam’s absence in the reboot. Jennette McCurdy, who played Sam in the series, has been open about her decision to retire from acting, citing the trauma she endured as a child actress and her desire to leave that part of her life behind.
Despite this, feeling that her character Harper was the reason for the character’s absence, lots of angry people chose to lash out at Mosley. Mosley has since received scores of hateful, anti-Black comments across multiple social media platforms. Triplett was also targeted online by other racist users. The “iCarly” writing staff responded to the harassment in a statement posted by writer and producer Franchesca Ramsey. Ramsey’s statement defended Mosley and Triplett as well as firmly denounced all of the racist attacks against them.
In their decision to stand up for Mosley and Triplett, the “iCarly” writers have set an excellent precedent for all future rebooted properties. The production team clearly values creating a safe space for their Black actors and fans over keeping the viewership of those who harass them and engage in anti-Black sentiments online. They were able to quickly take back control of the narrative surrounding their show, inviting those who disagreed with the inclusion of Mosley’s character to watch something else.
Since the launch of the series, Harper and Millicent have become instant favorites among true fans, and many Black fans are happy to see themselves represented onscreen.
“I love the new perspectives,” said Trainor, during the “iCarly Cast Reunion.” “I love how grown up the show has become, the way we can tackle more mature issues, you know, from unique diverse perspectives. I think it’s everything that people are gonna want to see.”
“iCarly” stands out among other reboots because it has matured alongside its audience, allowing it to be enjoyed by viewers both in their youth as well as their adulthood. The writers of the “iCarly” reboot also have a clear understanding of what fans of the show’s original run want. In the nearly nine years since the finale, the audience has matured, so the characters must do the same. By allowing the show to “grow up” and discuss more adult topics, it remains relatable for everyone returning to watch.
In an interview with Page Six, Jerry Trainor and Nathan Kress teased sexual situations later on in the series, much to the surprise of some fans.
“This is an adult show. It’s not specifically for kids,” Kress explained. “And that’s been exciting for us — to just see where these characters from a kid’s show would be and where they are in their life now, 10 years later. But in a very realistic, non-glossy way.”
The successes of “iCarly” are the failures of other reboots, like the unreleased “Lizzie McGuire” spinoff, which was axed (much to the disappointment of the actors and fans of the original show) after Disney would not allow the series to try a more honest and mature perspective. Some fans even made this connection while watching “iCarly,” joking about it on Twitter.
Fans can look forward to plenty of old characters returning. In the first few episodes released on Paramount Plus, Freddie’s overbearing mother, Mrs. Benson (Mary Scheer), returns. Nora Dershlit (Danielle Morrow), who infamously kidnapped the iCarly crew in hour-long specials “iPsycho” and “iStill Psycho,” also runs into Carly and Freddie at a coffee shop. It has been teased that other characters — such as Carly’s nemesis Nevel Papperman and stuffed animal-obsessed ex-boyfriend Griffin — will be making appearances in later episodes of the series.
It’s clear that the showrunners, writers and actors all care deeply about the show they are creating together. In just a few episodes, the “iCarly” reboot has already demonstrated that it can build upon everything that made the original so special, while also adding plenty of new charms.
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